Asthma, affecting one in twelve adults, is one of the most common respiratory diseases in Britain, and statistics show that over a thousand people die from the condition each year. Narrowing of the airwaves, caused by an immunological response to allergens that results in inflammation and an increase in mucus production, characterize the typical asthma attack. Common triggers of asthma attacks include air pollution, dust, exercise, infections, pollen, spores, and tobacco smoke.
Air pollution, a significant problem in cities but also an issue affecting rural areas, is one of the leading causes of asthma attacks. Internal combustion engines, burning petrol or diesel, release exhaust fumes that can irritate the lungs of asthma sufferers. While industrial gases that are released from factories can also trigger asthma attacks. Forest fires, occurring during heatwaves, may also pollute the air that we breathe. Clouds of smog, consisting of noxious gases as well as smoke and dust particles, can travel for hundreds of miles and pollute the air of remoter areas.
Dust, comprised of fine particles of both organic and inorganic matter, is an unavoidable fact of life and this harmful substance can be found outdoors as well as inside buildings. Inhaling dust can cause several respiratory problems, particularly if the feces of microscopic mites are present in the mix, and may trigger asthma attacks in susceptible individuals. Removing dust as often as possible, by vacuum cleaning and wiping surfaces, may help to reduce bouts of respiratory illnesses, but asthma inhalers should be present in the homes of all who are affected by the condition.
Exercise can be a double-edged sword for those with respiratory diseases and asthmatic individuals that like to run, climb or play sports should always have their asthma inhalers with them. Physical activity, including brisk walking and working out, can alleviate the systems of asthma for some, while others may suffer from exercise-induced asthma and should avoid strenuous activity as a result. Those who have asthma regardless of the severity of their condition, who are unsure of whether or not they should be exercising should seek advice from medical professionals.
Colds and flu, caused by viruses that attack the respiratory system, can trigger asthma attacks, but there are measures that affected persons can take to avoid and manage the sudden worsening of symptoms. Those with asthma should avoid contact with persons who are suffering from colds or flu, wash their hands as often as possible and avoid touching the nose and mouth, which are vectors for viral infection.
Pollen, a powdery substance produced by the flowers of male plants, is known to cause hay-fever, but it also has the potential to provoke asthma attacks. Persons with pollen-induced asthma should take similar precautions to those who are afflicted by hay-fever. Try to avoid going outdoors when the pollen count is high, keep windows and doors shut if possible, and make sure to have the correct medications at all times. Speak with a doctor for more information on the best kind of inhaler for you.
Spores, or microscopic particles released by the fruiting bodies of fungi and certain types of plants during their reproductive cycles, can cause asthma attacks when they are inhaled. The spores of some types of fungus, such as those that grow outdoors in nature, cannot be avoided, but the fungus that grows inside the house can be controlled through good sanitation practices. Keeping rooms dry, well ventilated and warm in the colder months helps to prevent the growth of mold and mildew.
Smoking tobacco products, such as pre-rolled or hand-rolled cigarettes, should be avoided by those who suffer from asthma. Tobacco smoke, harmful in a myriad of ways, can irritate the passageways of the lungs and cause asthma attacks. Smokers who suffer from the condition should have their inhalers with them at all times.