Control your asthma by eliminating triggers

October 9, 2015

Doctors agree that the best treatment for asthma entails identifying and then avoiding its triggers. In some instances these are obvious — for example, exposure to tobacco smoke and other noxious fumes, cold air, exercise or an allergy to animal dander. Seasonal asthma is usually due to various pollens, molds and other environmental factors. Here are two common allergen sources that may be aggravating your asthma.

Control your asthma by eliminating triggers

1. Triggers in foods

Food allergies can cause attacks.

  • In many asthma sufferers, food allergies are a trigger; in these cases, identifying the culprits may require considerable detective work, especially in children.
  • Because food allergies vary from person to person, there is no handy list of offenders. But sometimes a child unconsciously links a food with his asthma by fussing or refusing to eat it. Complaints such as "it makes my mouth feel funny" may point to an allergy.
  • Often, foods that trigger asthma are identified by keeping a careful record of the time and ingestion of all foods and drinks, as well as any asthma symptoms. After a few weeks, a pattern of offending foods may emerge.
  • Suspected allergens can usually be identified by blood and skin tests.

2. Environmental triggers

For some people, inadvertently ingested environmental allergens are the problem rather than the foods.

  • People allergic to ragweed, for example, may also react to pyrethrum, a natural pesticide made from chrysanthemums, or to other allergens related to plants.
  • Similarly, people allergic to mildew and other environmental molds may react to molds in foods; common offenders include cheese, mushrooms, hot dogs and other processed meats, as well as anything that is fermented, including soy sauce, beer, wine and vinegar.
  • Salicylates — compounds in the same family as the active ingredient in aspirin and found naturally in many fruits — may trigger asthma. Yellow food dye 5 (tartrazine) is chemically similar to salicylate, although it is less potent.

Help control your asthma by making note of possible triggers and contact your doctor if you require an allergy test.

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