Asthma can be triggered by seasonal and indoor allergens, like pollen or pet dander, but allergens aren't the only things you need to worry about when you have asthma. There are a variety of non-allergic triggers, as well. Here are three non-allergic triggers for asthma.
The winter months can be hard for people with asthma because cold air can trigger asthma symptoms. When you breathe in cold, winter air, it dries out your airways and irritates them. The airways then become inflamed and constricted, which makes it hard for you to breathe.
This doesn't mean that you need to hide indoors all winter. When you go outdoors, cover your nose and mouth with a scarf; this helps to make the air a bit warmer and moister before it enters your lungs. Your allergist may also want to adjust your asthma medications to make dealing with winter easier for you.
Intense emotions—like stress or anxiety—can also trigger your asthma symptoms. This may seem hard to believe, but stress affects your entire body and can aggravate a variety of health problems. Stress and other strong emotions make your muscles tense up, and the muscles that line your airways are no exception. When these muscles become tense, it gets harder for you to breathe.
There are many ways to keep your emotions and your asthma under control. You may find it helpful to talk to a therapist or to practice self-help therapies like yoga or spending time outdoors. Your doctor may also prescribe medications like antidepressants or sleeping pills, if necessary.
Exercise is good for you, but it can also trigger an asthma attack. This happens because you need to breathe harder while you're working out, and you typically breathe through your mouth, which can irritate your airways. This irritation leads to inflammation and narrowing of the airways, resulting in an asthma attack.
Doing a quick warm-up (six to 10 minutes) before your workouts can help to prevent an asthma attack. Try to avoid working out in cold, dry weather since these conditions are more likely to trigger an asthma attack; instead, work out in warm, humid areas. Pre-exercise asthma control medications are also available, and your allergist may prescribe them for you.
Cold air, intense emotions and exercise can all trigger an asthma attack, so remember to take appropriate precautions. For more advice, talk to a doctor at Cookingham Allergy & Asthma Associates, P.C.