Asthma is a very common medical condition in the UK. It affects the tubes which carry air to and from your lungs, often causing breathlessness and wheezing. Around 5.4 million people have the condition, according to Asthma UK (AUK). Although we don’t yet understand the root causes of asthma, we know there are several ‘triggers’ that can cause flare-ups in asthmatic people.
Today’s post will focus on the potential causes and known triggers of asthma. To learn more about asthma in general, please see our in-depth guide, or specifically our posts on the symptoms and treatments available.
Increasing the Risk of Asthma
As we’ve mentioned, the root causes of asthma are difficult to pinpoint. There are, however, certain factors that can increase your risk of developing the condition. Asthma risk factors include:
- A family history of the condition.
- Having bronchiolitis as a child.
- Allergy-related conditions such as hay fever, food allergies, and eczema.
- Exposure to tobacco smoke as a child.
- Your mother smoking whilst she was pregnant.
- Premature birth (before 37 weeks).
- Certain working environments, for example, dusty areas. We’ll discuss occupational asthma in more detail later in this article.
Common asthma symptoms include a tight chest, coughing, wheezing, and feeling breathless. Often, these symptoms are brought on by so-called asthma triggers. There are two main categories of triggers: allergic and non-allergic.
Allergic triggers include pollen, dust, and pet dander. All other triggers are classed as non-allergic. These are irritants such as cigarette smoke and pollution. However, stress, anxiety, and even changes in the weather can be asthma triggers too.
Understanding your triggers is a very important part of keeping your asthma under control. After all, once you have identified your triggers, you can start taking steps to avoid them. If you encounter more than one of your triggers, your symptoms may be worse than normal. Asthma UK recommends creating an asthma action plan in order to manage your condition effectively.
For more examples of asthma triggers, see the Asthma UK website.
As we discussed earlier in this post, your working environment can increase your risk of breathing issues. Sometimes, the substances around you may put you at risk. This is known as occupational asthma. Those most at risk include chemical workers, timber works, welders, and paint sprayers. Occupational causes of asthma include:
- Wood dust.
- Solder fumes.
- Flour and grain dust.
- The chemicals in spray paint,
According to AUK:
Unlike pre-existing asthma, the symptoms of occupational asthma can go away completely if they’re identified soon enough, and you stop being exposed to the trigger.
You should inform your employer immediately if you notice any asthma symptoms, no matter how mild or severe. You should discuss the precautions you can take in order to lower your risk. In addition, you should make an appointment with your doctor.
Personal Alarm Information
With the correct treatment plan, most people with asthma can lead totally normal lives. However, the sad fact remains that asthma attacks lead to 3 deaths every day in the UK. Our personal alarm service is ideal for those who suffer from conditions like asthma. Should you suffer an asthma attack, you can simply push the red help button on your pendant. Our 24-hour Response Team will reassure you and send help to your location immediately.
People with asthma also qualify for VAT Exemption, so you won’t have to pay any VAT when you purchase an alarm.
For more information, please speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0800 999 0400. Alternatively, send us an email or email@example.com or complete our Contact Us form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
Note: Originally published on 16/04/2019, this article was updated on 03/09/2021 to reflect current information.