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Asthma - Asthma triggers

NHS Choices Feature

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Some people are much more likely than others to develop allergies, such as asthma, hayfever and eczema. C

ertain 'triggers', such as pollens, household cleaners or pets, can cause an allergic response.

What can trigger asthma?

Many things can make asthma worse. Keep a list of your triggers when you discover them, and discuss them with your GP or asthma nurse. Asthma UK cites the main asthma triggers as:

Animal proteins, such as house dust mites, animal hair and cat saliva. Read more about  pet hygiene if you have asthma.

  • Pollens, including trees and grass.
  • Mould spores, which are released from trees at the end of the year, or in damp housing.
  • Smoking.
  • Weather and changes in temperature.
  • Viral infections.  A cold, the flu or other respiratory infections can make asthma worse.
  • Emotions.  Negative emotions can act as a trigger, possibly for the same reason that exercise is a trigger. Your respiratory rate (the rate of breathing) increases, which means that you take in more air.
  • Hormones. A small number of women with asthma find that changes in their hormone levels can be a trigger. This may be worse before menstruation.
  • Medicines. In a few people, asthma is triggered by medicines that contain salicylates, such as ibuprofen and some other anti-inflammatory drugs. It may also be triggered by beta-blockers, a type of drug prescribed for some people with cardiac disease, anxiety, hypertension, angina and glaucoma. If you have asthma, be cautious of taking ibuprofen (which may be sold by the brand name, Nurofen) or beta-blockers. Your GP or asthma nurse may be able to suggest an alternative.
  • Traffic fumes.
  • Household cleaners and sprays can have an irritant effect, which can trigger asthma. Strong perfume can do the same.
Medical Review: February 13, 2012

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