Asthma is a
long-lasting (chronic) disease of the
respiratory system. It causes
inflammation in tubes that carry air to the lungs
(bronchial tubes). The inflammation makes your bronchial tubes likely to
overreact to certain triggers. An overreaction can lead to decreased lung
function, sudden difficulty breathing, and other symptoms of an
If you avoid triggers, you
Prevent some asthma attacks.
the frequency and severity of some attacks.
You may not be able to avoid or even want to avoid all your
asthma triggers. But you can ask your doctor how to identify some of the things that trigger your
symptoms. He or she may suggest:
Being tested for allergies. If you have allergies, the
substances to which you are allergic can trigger symptoms.
Monitoring your lung function (peak expiratory flow). Your lungs will not work as well when you are around a
How to identify asthma triggers
Identify possible asthma triggers. A trigger is anything that can lead to an asthma attack. When
you are around something that triggers your symptoms, keep track of it. This
can help you find a pattern in what triggers your symptoms. Record triggers in your
asthma diary(What is a PDF document?) or on your asthma action plan.
Monitor your lung function. Check yourself for asthma symptoms. Watch for things like being short of breath, having chest tightness, coughing, and wheezing. Also notice if symptoms wake you up at night or if you get tired quickly when you exercise. If your doctor recommends it, measure your peak expiratory flow (PEF). A trigger may not always cause symptoms. But it can still
narrow your bronchial tubes, which makes your lungs work harder. To identify
triggers that do not always cause immediate symptoms, you can measure your PEF throughout the day. PEF will drop when your bronchial
tubes narrow, so your PEF will drop when you are near things that trigger
Be tested for allergies. Skin or blood testing may be used to diagnose allergies to
certain substances. Skin testing involves pricking the skin on your back or
arms with one or more small doses of specific allergens. The amount of swelling
and redness at the sites where your skin was pricked is measured to identify
allergens to which you react.
Share your trigger record with your doctor. After you have found some
things that may trigger your asthma, you and your doctor can
devise a plan for how to deal with them.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD - Pediatrics E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerMary F. McNaughton Collins, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine