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Breathe Easy: How to Reduce Asthma and Allergy Triggers at Home

Zing Health
Posted by Zing Health on Mar 16, 2023 11:06:12 AM

Asthma is a serious long-term lung condition that affects people of all ages, sexes, races and ethnic backgrounds. However, the burden of asthma falls disproportionately on Black Americans. Taking asthma triggers seriously can help manage breathing problems, as well as regular use of the daily and quick-relief medicines the doctor prescribes.

Black Americans are 1.5 times more likely than white people to have asthma, five times more likely to visit an emergency room because of the condition, and three times more likely to die due to an asthma attack. Black women are even more likely to have bad outcomes. The living environment is a strong factor in this health disparity, from moldy ceilings to tobacco smoke and polluted air.

Lock Out Asthma and Allergy Triggers

Many people don’t act on their asthma symptoms quickly enough because they look like basic allergies. Common irritants can set off allergy or asthma symptoms. However, allergies and asthma are not the same. 

Allergies are caused when the immune system becomes hypersensitive and puts up a defense against something that’s normally harmless. Asthma produces a more dangerous reaction, which restricts the airways and makes it difficult for people to breathe. They may feel their chest clog or tighten up. Congestion and sneezing are allergy symptoms, while coughing, wheezing and shortness of breath are all signs of an asthma attack. Seeing a healthcare professional right when these symptoms act up is the best way to determine the difference.

Some of the more common indoor irritants that bring on asthma include tobacco smoke (even secondhand smoke), mold, cleaning products, cockroaches, mice and even household pets. Bedding, upholstery and rugs can be homes for tiny bugs called dust mites. They don’t bite, but an allergic reaction can bring on an asthma attack.

Outside, asthma triggers include air pollution from factories, cars or wildfire smoke. Also, since humidity helps common allergens like dust mites and mold thrive, asthma can come about quickly when one is out of the house. Stress and strong emotions, which affect breathing, can bring on asthma symptoms too.

Clearing the Air: How to Treat Asthma Symptoms

Once a person has identified asthma triggers, finding ways to reduce exposure will lower the chance of an attack. The easiest solution is to remove the irritant, such as by quitting smoking or keeping smoke out of the home. Clean, dust and lower humidity levels to cut exposure to mold and dust mites and follow directions on strong cleaning products to use them at safe levels.

Get any moldy walls or ceilings fixed and get rid of roaches and other pests. Home visits from health and social service agencies will suggest productive changes or offer help with unresponsive landlords. Doctors can test for substances that might trigger asthma symptoms and suggest smoking cessation programs or other remedies.

But aside from removing the triggers themselves, activity and other stress reducers can control asthma, even for people with breathing problems related to exercise. Controlling acid reflux or food allergies also helps some asthma patients, and a doctor can offer solutions for either problem.

For most people suffering from asthma, doctors will prescribe different types of inhalers that prevent an attack or work quickly and effectively to end one. Keeping asthma under control means knowing how and when to use inhalers correctly, so new asthma patients may want to practice with a nurse or health coordinator. 

While asthma is more common among some families and races, the genetics of asthma and ethnicity aren’t well understood. However, treatment for asthma is no different regardless of sex, race or ethnicity. Working with doctors and following an asthma treatment plan will help people with asthma manage their symptoms.



Topics: chronic conditions, prevention, asthma, allergies

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