Those who experience asthma attacks know how scary they can be. The shortness of breath and immense pressure in your chest can make you feel like you’re suffocating. The constant urge to cough with little to no relief is frightening and frustrating.
If you’ve seen an allergist for your condition, you likely have an action plan outlining specific things to stay away from, whether it is pet dander, dust mites, cigarette smoke, cold air, pollen or all the above. However, there may be triggers you aren't aware of that could cause an attack.
Here are five unexpected triggers you should watch out for to avoid an asthma attack.
1. Air fresheners
The very term “air freshener” sounds like it should be safe for anyone, especially asthmatics. Not so. These deceptively named products have perfumes and flower scents that do more harm than good when they enter airways. According to a study in the International Journal of Environmental Health Research, air fresheners and even scented candles can irritate and restrict airways, bringing on an attack.
If you want a fresher smelling home without the adverse side effects, boil some herbs and citrus, create a candle from an orange, or make a spray with lemon and basil.
From high winds and sharp rain to lightning strikes and loud booms that shake the earth, thunderstorms are dramatic. To someone with asthma, they can be even more so.
In all that wind, thousands of pollutants are blown in the air, causing severe asthma attacks. In fact, in January, nine people reportedly died and thousands more were hospitalized after a series of severe thunderstorms hit Victoria, Australia.
“The event was triggered by a sudden drop in temperature from peaks of 35 degrees C, combined with severe thunderstorms and winds that swept pollen into the air and shattered it into small enough particles to enter people’s lungs, causing them to have severe reactions including asthma attacks," according to the Guardian.
3. Crying or laughing
Crying and laughing are emotional responses brought on by anything from sadness and sorrow to joy and anger. These natural and often uncontrollable responses can also bring on an asthma attack. Much like exercising, crying and laughter change breathing patterns and can restrict air flow, prompting an asthma attack.
Before you try to avoid crying or laughing, know the benefits more than outweigh the risks. Just make a habit of always having your inhaler handy.
If you find yourself overworked or have situations in your life causing unnecessary stress, they may be the cause of your frequent asthma attacks.
A review of health and mental health data published in the September 2015 Journal of Asthma found that experiencing psychological distress within the past year correlated with asthma symptoms.
While the stress of traffic could bring on an attack, there's more to it. Traffic-related air pollution was found to cause development of allergies and asthma in children during the first eight years of life according to research published by the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Additionally, the pollutants and fumes put out by nearby cars combined with the surrounding air quality was able to bring on an attack in previous asthma sufferers.
Asthma does not have to control you — you control it by knowing your triggers and having your inhaler or other protective measures readily available. Being aware and prepared will help you control your asthma and live a healthy, vibrant life.
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