10 Asthma Triggers to Avoid

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  • For some asthma sufferers, the coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath are minor nuisances. For other people -- possibly those with a genetic predisposition to the disease -- the narrowing of airways and extra mucus are severe enough to interfere with daily activities. Worse yet, an acute asthma attack can be life threatening. The good news, though, is that when you team the right medications with a concerted effort to avoid your triggers, you have a very good chance of staying symptom-free. Here are the top 10 ways to keep your condition at bay.

    Fend Off Heartburn

    Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD) may cause damage to the airways in your lungs and consequently make your asthma symptoms worse. If you have frequent heartburn, the cause may be your penchant for spicy foods such as chili and hot tamales. Other food and beverage culprits can be coffee, alcohol, carbonated drinks, citrus fruits, and tomatoes. Experiment to see what brings on the burn for you and then cut those items out of your diet.
  • Use an Air Conditioner Opening the windows for a breath of not-so-fresh air can be a major cause of asthma attacks. Especially during the seasons when trees, grasses, and weeds are pollinating, the airborne allergens will find their way indoors. Best to invest in an air conditioner and keep the windows closed.
  • Maintain Your Healthy Weight Carrying extra pounds has been shown to worsen asthma symptoms along with putting you at risk for other health problems. Consider a weight loss support group if you're having trouble staying slim. Also, fruits and vegetables other than those that cause heartburn are not only good choices for weight control but they can increase your lung function because they are antioxidant powerhouses. Beyond that, get regular exercise to burn calories and boost your lung health.
  • Stay Away from Second Hand Smoke You know you need to quit smoking if you're asthmatic, but you should also make a point of avoiding second hand smoke. If family members smoke, try to get them into cessation programs for their own sake as well as yours. Most offices and public buildings are now smoke-free, but don't linger outside where the smokers congregate.
  • Foil the Dust Mites You can lessen or eliminate nighttime symptoms if you use dust-proof cases for pillows, mattresses, and box springs. In addition, get rid of carpeting and opt instead for hardwood or linoleum floors. Wash curtains and blinds often.
  • Use a Dehumidifier Especially if you live in a damp climate, you would do well to get a dehumidifier. Affordable, portable versions are available that you can move easily from room to room. Empty and refill the water at least once a day. Your lungs will thank you!
  • Change Filters Often About once a year, have your utility company clean or replace the filters for your furnace. Also change the filters for your air conditioner every 12 months or so according to the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Keep Pet Dander Under Control If you're allergic to dander, you really shouldn't have pets with fur or feathers. Turtles, fish, snakes, and chickens – the latest trend in animal friends – are alternate choices. However, if you already have a beloved pooch, bathe and groom him frequently. Cats, of course, keep themselves clean but you can take them to the vet now and then for an extra thorough rousting of dander.
  • Wear a Mask When Cleaning Your home ought to be as clean as possible. If stirring up the dust brings on your symptoms, wear a dust mask while you're vacuuming and mopping. Better yet, get another family member to do the dirty work or budget so that you can pay for cleaning help once a week.
  • Cover Your Mouth and Nose in Cold Weather Many people with asthma find that cold air makes symptoms flair up. Putting a scarf over your mouth and nose will help conquer that problem. You could also use a face mask like the kind you wear for cleaning. That way, you can literally breathe easy!