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Asthma Triggers

Triggers are things that make your asthma worse. Weather conditions, or activities that are harmless to most people, can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath in those with asthma. They don't cause asthma, but they can lead to asthma symptoms and flare-ups. You can reduce how often your asthma flares up by stopping or minimizing exposure to your triggers. Asthma triggers may not be the same for each child and some children may have more than one trigger. Keeping a diary of your child's activities and when symptoms occur may help in identifying their triggers. Symptoms of asthma episodes can include: Chest Tightness, Coughing, Shortness of Breath, and Wheezing.

Smoke

Smoke can trigger asthma episodes and increase the severity of attacks.Keep your child away from any smoke including cigarette smoke, fire places, barbeque grills, candles and fireworks. Parents, friends, and relatives of children with asthma should try to stop smoking and should never smoke around a person with asthma. They should only smoke outdoors and not in the home, garage or car. They should not allow others to smoke in the home, and they should make sure their child's school is smoke-free.

Exercise

Playing hard at recess, gym or in sports can trigger an attack in some children. Exercise and play are healthy activities and should not be avoided. If exercise is a trigger, give your child's reliever medication as ordered on their asthma action plan. Always have your child's quick relief medication available during exercise. Start with warm up exercises and finish with cool down exercises. If asthma symptoms persist talk to your child's doctor.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny bugs that are too small to see. Every home has dust mites. They feed on human skin flakes and are found in mattresses, pillows, carpets, couches, bedcovers, clothes, stuffed toys, book shelves and places where dust collects. Body parts and droppings from dust mites can trigger asthma in children with allergies to dust mites. Exposure to dust mites can cause asthma in children who have not previously shown asthma symptoms.

Wash pillow cases and bedding once a week in hot water. Wipe hard surfaces, including hard floors, with a damp or an electrostatic cloth weekly. Use a dust mite resistant cover for mattresses, pillows, and quilts. Avoid using pillows with feathers. Vacuum carpets and furniture every week (children should avoid re-entering the room during vacuuming and for approximately 20 minutes following). Keep air conditioning units clean, change filters regularly. Reduce clutter from the bed and bedroom. Choose stuffed toys that you can wash. Wash stuffed toys in hot water. Dry completely before your child plays with the toy. If washing the toys or stuffed animals is not a possibility, seal them in an airtight bag for 48 hours or freeze them for about a day to kill the dust mites. Following this, shake or beat the toys outdoors to remove the dead waste which can still cause allergies.

Pets

Some children are allergic to skin flakes (dander), urine, or saliva from animals and birds. The best way to control asthma triggers caused by animals or birds is to find the pet a new home. If pet owners are unable to locate a new home for a pet, they should keep the pet out of the house when possible. Pets should be kept of the bedroom of the person with asthma and keep the bedroom door closed. Keep pets off furniture and away from stuffed toys. Have your child wash his or her hands after petting or playing with pets. Wash pets weekly and vacuum carpets frequently.


Dust Storms and Windy Days/Outdoor Air Pollution

The West Texas Region is well known for sudden dust storms and windy days. A dust storm usually arrives suddenly in the form of an advancing dust wall, which may be miles long and several thousand feet high. Dust storms can be a major contributor to reduced air quality and increase the number and severity of asthma attacks. The best way to avoid potential trouble during dust storms and windy day is to assess visual clues. That is, if the winds are blowing hard, and it really looks dusty, it is likely that sustained exposure to those conditions will result in trouble with your child's asthma. So, when visibility is impaired and it looks very dusty, the best measure is to avoid spending time outdoors. Pay attention to air quality forecasts and plan activities accordingly.

Cockroaches and Pests

Droppings or body parts of cockroaches, mice and other pests can trigger asthma. Keep counters, sinks, tables and floors clean and free of clutter. Avoid leaving food out and clean dishes, crumbs and spills right away. Keep left-over food in sealed containers, and trash bags closed. Set out roach traps, poison baits, powders, or gels. Limit the use of sprays to kill roaches but if used have your child stay out of room.

Mold

Mold spores float through the indoor and outdoor air continually. When mold spores land on damp places indoors, they may begin growing. For people sensitive to molds, inhaling mold spores can trigger an asthma attack. Fix leaks as soon as possible. Absorbent materials, such as ceiling tiles and carpet with mold, may need to be replaced. Throw out moldy sponges and mops. Clean mold with soap and water and get rid of excess water and moisture. Keep humidly level of your child's room between 35%-50%. In humid climates control humidity by using an air conditioner, dehumidifier or exhaust fan.

Odors and Aerosol Sprays

Many children with asthma are very sensitive to odors, aerosol sprays and scented products. Avoid using room air fresheners and carpet powders. Do not wash your child's clothes or bedding in bleach or bleach products. Have your child stay away from strong odors such as perfume, nail polish, nail polish remover, hair spray, paint, new carpet, cooking and/or car exhaust, cleaning products, and insecticides. When using cleaning products, poor solutions on a cleaning cloth instead of spraying. Avoid using scented body lotions, potpourri, incense and scented candles. If you find that your child's asthma gets worse when you use a certain product, consider trying different products. If you must use a product, then you should make sure your child is not around and open windows or doors, or use an exhaust fan.

Other Triggers

  • Changes in air temperature Be aware of changes in air temperature. When out in cold air cover your child's nose and mouth with a scarf
  • Cold & Flu Colds and flu frequently trigger asthma; these are difficult triggers to avoid. Avoid people with the cold or flu. Use your child's asthma action plan if he or she develops a cold or flu. Getting a flu vaccination in September or October may be helpful in avoiding the flu.
  • Emotions Crying and laughing can be a trigger. Provide reassurance and relaxation for your child.
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