An asthma trigger is anything that brings about the symptoms of asthma; it does not cause the asthma itself, but because asthma sufferers have sensitive airways, it causes an attack. Everyone's asthma is different and may have several triggers. An important aspect of controlling asthma is avoiding triggers. There are a lot of well known common triggers, some asthma triggers are obvious in as much as they would probably cause some form of reaction from anyone. For example: extremely cold air, cigarette smoke or bonfire smoke, but there are also some that are not known.
So the first step in managing our daughter's asthma was to understand the various asthma triggers that affected her. My daughter's asthma triggers appear to be mainly:
(1) Emotions such as over excitement or stress
(2) Most cats, guinea pigs, some dogs and other furry / feathery animals, but not her pet rats.
(3) House dust.
(4) Common cold and flu viruses.
(6) Heat – hot weather or an over hot house
Now we have identified the triggers we can take precautions to avoid them. As well as being common sense, this is now recommended in a number of published guidelines on asthma care. All of the measures we take aim at giving the best possible quality of life, so we can avoid heavy medication regimes. One medication we do relly on is the reliever inhaler, as this looks to neutralize all but the most extreme triggers. This should be taken every day, but my daughter sometimes forgings, even on days when it is known that triggers will be experienced, for example cold air in winter. So part of the asthma management is to clearly remind her it needs to be taken every day to prevent having to resort to heavier medication to sort out an asthma attack if it should have taken hold. As with most things relating to asthma it is worth discussing the options, on a regular basis, with your doctor and / or asthma nurse.
Knowing what the triggers are, and there before when they are likely to be contacted, leads to being able to control these situation with the preventer and have less reliance on responsive medication.
Multiple triggers can cause other complications. The effects of one can mask the effects of others so it can be difficult to identify exactly what has triggered an asthma attack. Sometimes the link is obvious, for example when symptoms start within minutes of coming into contact but some reactions are not so obvious. In my daughter's case it took some analysis to realize it was the animal's bedding and not the animal itself that caused the reaction. This is why she gets on OK with her pet rats, which share her bedroom; but has to keep away from her sister's guinea pigs, which live in the conservatory.
Because we live right next to a town center park, it was almost inevitable that we would get a dog sooner or later. Our daughter is definitely allergic to most cats, but dogs do not seem to bother her, in themselves. However there is still the concern that the extra dust and air borne debris a dog would cause could well be an issue. There are a number of dogs that, although not completely hypoallergenic, are less likely to affect than other dogs. These include the Poodle, Schnauzer, most hairless dogs (Yuk) and somewhere near the top of the list is the Weimaraner. Which is just as well, because this is the only breed of dog my wife would entertain owning. So that's how we ended up with Spook.
Most people find that they are sensitive to a number of different triggers. It can there before be difficult to identify them individually as several may be contacted in one day. In my daughter's case the summer is an obvious problem time as she suffices from Hayfever, very hot days to the situation, especially as this will also cause more dust and airborne particles in general around the house and outside.
Sometimes these triggers are obvious, but other times it is not so clear and this is when the other inhaler and even the nebuliser needs to be used. This is usually when triggers have come in combinations or have not been identified early enough. It is difficult to tell how hot is too hot, how dusty is too dusty and, because it is very personal, what someone's emotional state is and whether they are feeling stressful.
Having a child with asthma, it is important to constantly monitor and manage the medical regime and the lifestyle triggers. As there is no cure for asthma it is important to keep control of it. Prevention is better than having to deal with an attack. But it is also important to know what to do in the case of an attack. As the child matures, they will get to understand their condition and be able to discuss it directly with their asthma nurse. But as children do forget and their priorities in life change, it is also necessary to monitor them too.
Hopefully this will then prevent everyone from getting hot and bothered.