2018-04-15 / Health

Three allergens that may trigger asthma attacks

Asthma affects millions of people across the globe. While some asthma attacks, which can occur at any time, may end quickly, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America notes that more severe attacks can last hours or days. Coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and tightness in the chest are some common symptoms of asthma attacks, which can be triggered by a number of allergens.

1. Dust mites: Dust mites are so tiny that they’re invisible to the naked eye. But just because you can’t see them does not mean they’re not there. Sometimes as small as one-quarter of a millimeter, dust mites thrive in environments where temperatures are between 68 F and 77 F, such as homes. Dust mites feed on tiny flakes of skin that humans shed each day, so they tend to make their homes in the inner layers of furniture, carpets and bedding. Even stuffed children’s toys might make great homes for dust mites. Asthma sufferers whose attacks have been linked to dust mites can cover their mattresses and pillows in dust-proof covers, wash their sheets and blankets in hot water and utilize HEPA filter vacuum cleaners to keep mites and mite waste from reentering the air after a cleaning.

2. Cockroaches: According to the AAFA, cockroach allergies are common asthma triggers. In fact, the AAFA notes that studies have indicated children who are allergic to cockroaches must visit the hospital for asthma more frequently than other children who do not have asthma. Cockroaches need food, water and shelter to survive, so people whose asthma attacks are being triggered by cockroach allergies can cover their trash cans tightly, store their food in airtight containers, clean all of their dirty dishes immediately after use, and promptly sweep up any food or crumbs that accumulate on their counters, tabletops, stoves, and floors.

3. Mold: Molds live everywhere, and upsetting a mold source may send mold spores into the air, potentially triggering asthma attacks. While allergic reactions from mold spores can occur at any time of the year, the AAFA notes that allergic symptoms from fungi like mold are most common between July and early fall. Mold spores that get into the lungs can trigger asthma attacks. Some reactions may occur immediately after the spores reach the lungs, while others may be delayed, resulting in asthma symptoms like nasal congestion gradually worsening over time. Reducing exposure to mold spores both inside and outside can prevent allergic reactions. Limit outdoor activities when mold counts are high and wear a mask when tending to lawns and gardens. Relying on central air conditioning equipped with HEPA filter attachments and lowering indoor humidity are two ways to reduce exposure to mold when indoors.

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