Asthma Allergens

Asthma Triggers for Allergic Asthma

Asthma symptoms are set off – or triggered – by airborne substances that initiate changes in the airways of sensitive people that then make it hard to breathe. These substances are called asthma triggers. They can be categorized in several ways.

Tree, Grass, and Weed Pollen

Maple pollen
Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Pollen is an airborne allergen that may set off numerous asthma symptoms in sensitive people at certain times of the year. Pollen consists of tiny, egg-shaped male cells found in flowering plants. You may know pollen better as the tiny, powdery granules that plants use during the fertilization process.

This leads to the sneezing, wheezing, and itchy water eyes of allergic rhinitis also known as seasonal allergies or hay fever. No matter what you call it, the sneezing, runny nose, scratchy throat, and irritated eyes that you may experience during pollen season is at least annoying and may very well be making your asthma worse.

There are a host of solutions from attempts at avoidance, to over the counter medications and therapies to reduce symptoms, to medications your doctor will prescribe. Generally its a progression with you failing conservative measures and then stepping the treatment up.

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Mold & Mold Spores

Mold and Mold Spores
Photo © A.D.A.M.

Mold can be both an indoor and an outdoor asthma trigger, depending on where you find it. The microscopic fungi thrive in damp, dark environments and result in havoc on  your asthma control. If you see mold growing (white, orange, green or black) in an area with a lot of moisture, you have a mold problem. You may also have a mold problem if you smell a musty, mold odor or see a discoloration in a wall or ceiling. The most important thing to do is to identify and remedy the moisture problem. Outdoor molds are found in piles of dead leaves, soil, vegetation and rotting wood.

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Animal Allergens

Cats Are Asthma Triggers
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Being around furry and feathered animals can trigger asthma symptoms in sensitive people. In fact, just being in an environment where an animal lives, even if they are not there at the same time as you, can be enough to set off asthma and allergy symptoms. It is commonly believed that an animal's hair is the allergen, but this is not true. It is actually the dander causing problems.

This is also not a small problem. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, nearly a third of all asthmatics are allergic to dogs or cats. This causes a great deal of angst for parents, kids, and asthmatic pet owners.

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Dust Mites

Dust Mite-Asthma Trigger
Source: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology

Dust mites, tiny creatures that are too small to be seen with the naked eye, live in house dust. They eat plant and animal material in the dust. The mites release droppings, and these droppings are the true reason why dust is such a common asthma trigger.

There is a direct relationship between levels of dust mite exposure and diagnosis of childhood asthma. The higher the dust mite level in your home, the greater the chance you will develop an allergic reaction to dust mites.Similarly, increased exposures lead to asthma exacerbations among people who are sensitive to dust mites.

Dust mite remediation (covering all bedding with a dust proof or "allergen-impermeable" covers) generally begins in the bedroom since you spend more time in your bedroom than any other room in your house.

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Indoor Insect Allergens

Picture of a Cockroach
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Cockroaches and other insects can shed very potent allergens. Cockroaches like to live in dark, damp places, especially where there is open food. Find out what you need to know about controlling the spread of insect allergens in your indoor environment. The steps are actually pretty easy once you know them.

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Outdoor Insect Allergens - Stinging Insects

Picture of a wasp
Photo courtesy of Stock Xchange
Stinging insects are another type of allergen that can trigger allergy symptoms. In 5 percent of people, they can even trigger a severe, life-threatening form of allergic shock known as anaphylaxis. So, anyone with allergic asthma needs to know how to identify -- and avoid -- these potentially deadly stinging insects.

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