Causes of Asthma
Asthma is caused by inflammation in the airways, this inflammation then irritates the muscles around the airways, causing them to constrict, making it then more difficult for air to get in and out of the lungs. This then leads to the wheezing and breathlessness so many asthma sufferers experience. This inflammation also causes the lining of the airways to produce extra mucus which causes coughing and yet further obstruction to the airflow.
Often there is no apparent reason as to why symptoms flare up but some people find that their symptoms are caused, or made worse, in certain circumstances. By understanding what may prompt certain asthma symptoms and thus avoiding these trigger points you may then be able to reduce the symptoms
- Smoking and cigarette fumes - if you smoke and have asthma, you should make every effort to stop. See a practice nurse for help if you find it difficult. Passive smoking can make asthma worse too. Even where adults smoke away from the presence of children, smoke on clothes, hair, etc, may make asthma worse. All children deserve to live in a smoke-free home - in particular, children with asthma.
Infections - particularly colds, coughs, and chest infections.
Pollens and moulds - asthma is often worse in the hay fever season.
Certain medicines - for example, about 1 in 50 people with asthma are allergic to aspirin, which can trigger symptoms. Other medicines that may cause asthma symptoms include: anti-inflammatory painkillers such as ibuprofen diclofenac, etc, and beta-blockers such as propranolol, atenolol, or timolol. This includes beta-blocker eye drops used to treat glaucoma
Other fumes and chemicals - for example, fumes from paints, solvents and pollution. The increase in air pollution may be a reason why asthma is becoming more common.
Certain pillows and mattresses - feathers in pillows may trigger symptoms. It is thought that some people develop asthma symptoms from chemicals (isocyanates/methyl ethyl ketones, etc) that are emitted in very low quantities from memory foam pillows and mattress topper
Emotion - asthma is not due to 'nerves', but such things as stress, emotional upset, or laughing may trigger symptoms.
Allergies to animals - for example, pet cats, dogs, and horses. Animals do not trigger symptoms in most cases, but some people notice that their symptoms become worse when close to certain animals.
House dust mite - this is a tiny creature which lives in mattresses and other fabrics around the home. If you are allergic to it, it may make symptoms worse. It is impossible to get rid of house dust mite completely. To greatly reduce their number takes a lot of time and effort and involves taking various measures. For example, using special mattress covers, removing carpets and removing or treating soft toys. However, if symptoms are difficult to control with treatment, and you are confirmed to be allergic to house dust mite, it may be worth considering trying to reduce their number.
Some foods. This is uncommon. Food is not thought to be a trigger in most cases.
Exercise - If you suffer any symptoms during or after exercise this is usually indicative of the condition being undertreated as it is known that sport and exercise are good for you if you have asthma. If necessary, you can use an inhaler before exercise to prevent symptoms from developing.