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  • 8 Common Causes Of Asthma And How To Avoid Them

    You may not totally prevent but you can minimize .your exposure to your specific triggers.
    by Jocelyn Valle .
8 Common Causes Of Asthma And How To Avoid Them
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  • Asthma is a major noncommunicable disease that affects both children and adults globally, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). Yet the exact cause or maybe causes of asthma remain unknown, as pointed out by the United States National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).

    About asthma

    Considering its global prevalance, a lot has to be learned about the disease that NHLBI describes as "a chronic (meaning, long-term) condition that affects the airways in the lungs." The Philippine College of Chest Physicians (PCCP), for instance, advocates for free information on asthma and other pulmonary diseases on social media.

    Among the recent webinars posted on PCCP's Facebook page is titled Usapang Asthma with resource person Dr. Paul Rilhelm M. Evangelista, a specialist in pulmonology medicine and interventional pulmonology. He has a comprehensive talk, including asthma symptoms, triggers, treatment, and prevention.

    Dr. Evangelista mentions studies showing that chronic inflammation causes the occurence of asthma symptoms. This happens when your bronchial tubes or airways become hyper irritable or very sensitive and they then get inflammed to the point of constriction.

    He explains that when your airways come in contact with triggers, they become easily swollen and inflamed. This inflammation causes narrowed airways and trapped air. It can be reversed when given treatment. Thus the asthma formula: Irritable airways + Triggers = Inflammation.

    One way to test if you have asthma is through the spirometry, upon your doctor's recommendation. He will also assess your condition and help identify the triggers to your asthma attacks.

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    Common triggers or causes of asthma

    Dr. Evangelista defines a trigger as anything that an asthmatic person encounters that produces an inflammation in the airways. He adds that triggers come in many forms, you just have to find out the specific ones or what he calls your "individualized triggers."

    Animal dander

    Fur and feathers are sources of animal danders, which are tiny bits of skin that contain protein. This protein, also found in the animals' saliva and oil gland, can trigger an asthma attack.

    Examples include cats, dogs, horses, hamsters, rabbits, mice, guinea pigs, and birds. They usually leave behind their dander in sofas and other furniture. But if you can't get rid of your pets, Dr. Evangelista suggests doing the following measures:

    • Give your pets a bath twice a week and don't let them in your bedroom.
    • Avoid having upholstered furniture in your house.
    • Use a vacuum cleaner with hepafilter or use a hepacleaner in your bedroom.
    • Perform pest control regularly to avoid an infestation of cockroaches.

    House dust mites

    Dust mites are microscopic creatures, which Dr. Evangelista says live in rugs, carpets, curtains, pillows, cushions, beddings, upholstered furniture, and soft toys. Those creatures also thrive on eating flakes, human skin, and cotton. Their fecal pellets cause an allergic reaction, especially to asthmatic patients.

    To minimize exposure to dust mites, Dr. Evangelista suggests these preventive measures:

    • Avoid having thick curtains, rugs, and carpets in your house.
    • Wrap your pillow and mattresses with impermeable plastic.
    • Soak your beddings in boiling water for seven minutes. Do this every week.
    • Vacuum your sofa and avoid lying on it.
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    Inhaled allergens

    Airborne allergens, such as pollens and weeds, can trigger an asthma attack when inhaled. So the doctor suggests for you to stay indoors, preferably with the windows closed and the air conditioning on. But if your house doesn't have air conditioning, simply close the windows, particularly from 4 a.m. to 8 a.m., and just turn on the electric fan.

    Aside from pollen, other allegens include molds. These microscopic fungus-producing thrive on wet surfaces and where there is stagnant water, that's why they are usually found in the basement and bathroom. Their airborne spores act as triggers to asthma.

    To lessen, if not totally avoid, your exposure to allergens, Dr. Evangelista suggests these preventive measures:

    • Make sure your house is well-ventilated.
    • Regularly clean the areas, like your bathroom, where molds thrive.
    • Get rid of containers with stagnant water.
    • Make it a point that garbage cans are clean and dry.
    • If you have plants, get rid of the fallen leaves.

    Air pollutants

    Dr. Evangelista says both outdoor and indoor air pollutants can trigger asthma. These include smoke from cigarettes and industries, as well as chemicals from factories and paints. His advice is to avoid exposure from these pollutants and never smoke a cigarette.

    Respiratory tract infection

    The common cold is a respiratory tract infection, and yes, it can trigger an asthma attack. Dr. Evangelista says an attack usually occurs three to five days after you get a cold. To avoid this, the doctor suggests to make your immune system strong and resistant to infections.

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    Weather changes

    While you can't do anything about the changing weather--from hot to rainy to cool and back to hot--you can do something to avoid an attack by adjusting your asthma medication. Being prepared is the key, says Dr. Evangelista.

    Stress and extreme emotion

    When you're under so much stress or express too much emotion, you may aggravate your asthma condition and eventual attack. Dr. Evangelista suggests you take time to relax and learn some relaxation techniques.

    Exercise

    Exercising or doing a physical activity, such as sports, can be one of the causes of asthma. But Dr. Evangelista says it doesn't mean you should totally avoid it. You just have to use your inhaler just before you start your routine and, better yet, control your asthma to enjoy the benefits of exercise.

    (Read here for more on asthma and here about other respiratory diseases.)

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