The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Communities in Action Asthma Initiative supports local programs working to help people in their communities bring asthma under control. An important part of this Initiative is raising awareness that asthma is a serious, sometimes life-threatening chronic disease that can be controlled.
One of the most important ways to prevent asthma attacks is to make sure that indoor allergens and irritants are controlled and will not trigger an attack or make an episode worse.
According to the EPA, here are the top 8 asthma triggers to be avoided:
- Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke can trigger asthma episodes and increase the severity of attacks. Secondhand smoke is also a risk factor for new cases of asthma in preschool-aged children.
- Dust Mites
Body parts and droppings from dust mites can trigger asthma in individuals with allergies to dust mites. Exposure to dust mites can cause asthma in children who have not previously exhibited asthma symptoms.
Molds create tiny spores to reproduce, just as plants produce seeds. Mold spores float through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on damp places indoors, they may begin growing. For people sensitive to molds, inhaling mold spores can trigger an asthma attack.
- Cockroaches and Pests
Droppings or body parts of cockroaches and other pests can trigger asthma. Certain proteins are found in cockroach feces and saliva and can cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma symptoms in some individuals.
The most effective method to control animal allergens in the home is to not allow animals in the home. If you remove an animal from the home, it is important to thoroughly clean the floors, walls, carpets and upholstered furniture.
- Nitrogen Dioxide
In people with asthma, exposure to low levels of NO2 may cause increased bronchial reactivity and make young children more susceptible to respiratory infections. Long-term exposure to high levels of NO2 can lead to chronic bronchitis.
- Chemical Irritants
Chemical irritants may exacerbate asthma. At sufficient concentrations in the air, many products can trigger a reaction.
- Outdoor Air Pollution
When inhaled, outdoor pollutants and pollen can aggravate the lungs, and can lead to chest pain, coughing, digestive problems, dizziness, fever, lethargy, sneezing, shortness of breath, throat irritation and watery eyes. Outdoor air pollution and pollen may also worsen chronic respiratory diseases, such as asthma.
If you have asthma, you may react to just one trigger or you may find that several things act as triggers. Be sure to work with a doctor to identify triggers and develop a treatment plan that includes ways to reduce exposures to your asthma triggers.