Asthma affects roughly 1 in 13 people in the United States, and flare-ups of wheezing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness can feel frightening. 

Working closely with a health care provider is the best way to get your asthma under control. Knowing your triggers is part of keeping asthma symptoms at bay, but it isn’t the only piece of the puzzle.

When you have asthma, you need the expertise of a specialist like immunologist and allergy physician Dr. Ulrike Ziegner at Riviera Allergy Medical Center in Redondo Beach, California, to provide the support and tools necessary to best manage your asthma. 

Dr. Ziegner cares for patients who are dealing with a broad range of allergic and immunologic conditions, including asthma treatment.

There are several common asthma triggers, and avoiding them, or at least limiting your exposure, can lessen your asthma flares. Take a moment to learn about some of the most common culprits in triggering an asthma attack.

Common asthma triggers

Numerous factors can play roles in asthma attacks, making it more frightening when you suddenly find yourself having trouble breathing. Materials, circumstances, or activities can aggravate asthma symptoms or create an asthma flare-up.

The first step in preventing an asthma flare is to understand what causes your asthma. It can be tough to avoid all of your asthma triggers. With a little planning, however, you can learn to avoid them.

Here are the most common triggers:

  • Pet dander
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Indoor allergens (dust mites)
  • Outdoor allergens (pollen, mold)
  • Air pollutants
  • Strong emotions
  • Strong fumes or odors
  • Certain medicines (NSAIDs, beta blockers)

Additionally, dry wind and cold weather can trigger asthma, and in some people, physical activity can trigger an asthma flare; this is known as exercise-induced asthma.

Signs of an asthma attack

Asthma flare-ups vary in intensity and duration. They can strike unexpectedly, producing coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.

Flare-ups should be treated as soon as possible, making it essential to be aware of their early warning signals, which include:

  • Coughing that keeps you awake
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Wheezing
  • Chest tightness

Flare-ups require immediate attention. Follow your action plan, which outlines what to do when you have a sudden asthma flare. If you must take extra doses of your quick-relief medication, this is another clue that your asthma is flaring up.

During mild flare-ups, you may have shortness of breath when walking or exercising but feel fine when you sit down. You may breathe normally enough to speak in full phrases, with some wheezing when you exhale. Acting during the early signs of a flare-up can keep your flares in check.

How to know when a flare-up is serious

Keep an eye out for serious flares. Breathing will be difficult and faster than usual during serious flare-ups. You’ll be out of breath even if you’re sitting still, perhaps leaving you able to say only a few words at a time. 

If you have signs of a serious flare-up, don’t put off seeking medical attention.

Managing asthma

To manage your asthma, Dr. Ziegner develops an individualized treatment plan. This action plan walks you through what to do if your asthma worsens.

Asthma management strategies typically include taking maintenance medication to reduce the frequency of asthma attacks, as well as quick-acting medication to use when unexpected flares occur.

To get started on the path to well-controlled asthma, schedule a visit with Dr. Ziegner for a comprehensive evaluation by calling 310-504-3242. 

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