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5 surprising asthma triggers and what you can do about them

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1. House dust mites

These tiny mites are present in most beds, carpets and curtains. Invisible to the naked eye, they thrive in the warm and humid conditions found in most of our homes. They colonise quickly and produce many allergenic droppings each day. Dust mite allergy is a hypersensitive reaction to the proteins in these droppings.

The allergy is thought to affect around 2% of the world’s population, and according to Asthma UK, around 90% of asthma sufferers are sensitive to the house dust mite. Wheezing, coughing and itching eyes – particularly severe in the mornings – are classic symptoms of sensitivity to the dust mite allergen.

What can you do?

Be sure to manage your asthma well, taking the medications that your doctor has prescribed for you. Some simple lifestyle changes, such as using dust mite proof bedding, allergy sprays and an air purifier, can also make a difference to how you feel. Try these top tips to help reduce the dust mite population in your home.

2. Stress

Stressful situations are commonplace with the fast pace of modern life. The ‘fight or flight’ response to stress triggers reactions such as a fast, shallow breathing and a fast heart rate. These changes can put asthma sufferers at a higher risk of a flare-up of symptoms. You may find that when you are stressed you drink or smoke, or forget to take your medication. These actions also put you at increased risk of an attack.

What can you do?

It’s virtually impossible to completely eliminate stress from your life. However, a healthy diet, a good quantity and quality of sleep and gentle low-impact exercise such as yoga can help to balance your hormones and leave you better equipped to deal with stress. If you find your asthma itself to be a source of stress and worry, you can call the Asthma UK helpline on 0800 121 62 44 (click here for more information) and speak to one of their caring, knowledgeable nurses.

3. Thunderstorms

The Met Office say that there is a correlation between thunderstorms and asthma-related hospital admissions. Although this correlation is not yet fully understood, it is thought that the combination of wind and high humidity in a thunderstorm can cause pollen and mould spores to be swept up, broken into smaller pieces and re-distributed. These smaller particles when inhaled can further irritate the lungs. Click here to learn more about thunderstorm-related asthma.

What can you do?

If a thunderstorm is forecast and you suffer from asthma or hay fever, stay indoors and take your prescribed medication to help prevent a flare-up of symptoms. Keep a close eye on the Met Office’s pollen and spore count so you can take preventative action.

4. Fragranced products

Scented candles, air fresheners, hairsprays, spray on deodorants and perfumes are a big ‘no-no’ for asthma sufferers (as well as for the chemically sensitive). Many people report respiratory symptoms as a result of exposure to strongly fragranced products. Aerosols, including deodorants and room sprays, can be particularly problematic; the fine mist when inhaled, combined with strong fragrance, can trigger asthma attacks. Even if you don’t have allergies, it’s advisable to cut down on the use of synthetic fragrances to reduce the overall chemical load on your body.

What can you do?

Go scent free and ditch the aerosols. At The Healthy House, we have a ‘no scent’ policy – none of the staff here wear or use perfumed products. Some of the staff are chemically sensitive, and we also want to ensure that there are no perfume residues on any of the parcels that leave the building, for the benefit of our chemically sensitive customers. Synthetic fragrances contain a whole host of unhealthy chemicals that our bodies are better off without!

There are many scent-free toiletries available that work just as effectively as their heavily perfumed mainstream alternatives. If you can tolerate essential oils, you can still enjoy using toiletries that smell pleasant. Natural roll-on deodorants, free from aluminium and synthetic fragrances, are an ideal choice – we love these ones from Green People.

5. Hormones

Women in particular can find that their asthma symptoms are affected by hormonal changes. Hormones fluctuate frequently, for example during puberty, during a monthly cycle, during pregnancy and during the menopause. It is still unknown why these fluctuations result in changes in asthma symptoms, but it is thought that hormones can affect your airways and the way your body responds to infection.

What can you do?

Consult your GP for advice on how to best manage your asthma during these hormonal fluctuations, if you find you are being affected. Take your medication as prescribed and keep up with your review appointments. A healthy diet, regular gentle exercise and good quality sleep will help to balance your hormones.


  • http://www.webmd.boots.com/asthma/
  • https://www.asthma.org.uk
  • http://thinkbeforeyoustink.com/howtogofragrancefree.html
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