In Asthma, Blog

Today we are getting advice from resident Allergist Dr. Paul Detjen, M.D. about different asthma triggers. This is the first in our two-part series, “What’s Triggering My Asthma?”.

If you are having an asthma attack we strongly recommend that you visit your physician or call 911.

Fake Dictionary, Dictionary definition of the word asthma.

Are these things triggering your asthma?

There are many reasons that your condition could be worsening or stagnant, here are three main culprits Dr. Paul identified.

#1. Allergens.

Allergens can cause acute asthma attacks. The most common causes of allergen related symptoms are pet dander, pollen, and dust mites. Cats in particular are a major source of asthma allergens because they both deposit large amounts of dander wherever they go, and tend to move throughout the entire house including the bedroom. Both acute or chronic exposure to household pets can also affect your symptoms. That means that, even if you don’t have a pet at home, exposure to the pets of friends and neighbors can trigger your symptoms.

Pollen is another major trigger causing both seasonal asthma, in spring through fall, or worsening already present symptoms. A dust allergy, to dust mites that are present all over the home (in mattresses, pillows, and carpets for example) can result in chronic symptoms. Continual exposure to allergens both in and out of the home can lead to chronic inflammation which, in turn, can cause or worsen your condition. However not all asthma is “allergic.” Allergy skin tests can help determine if your condition has an allergic component.

#2. Upper respiratory infections. 

Upper respiratory infections seem to “settle” into the chest in asthmatics. Some people often experience prolonged symptoms of upper respiratory effects. Even after the viral infection resolves, the inflammation caused by the infection can provoke symptoms. This can mimic bronchitis (the inflammation of airways leading to the lungs), but does not respond to antibiotics. Some patients are more prone to complications from influenza and should have yearly flu vaccines.

#3. Exercise.

Exercise-induced asthma refers to the transient increase in airway resistance that exercise can trigger. This means that the muscles around your airways, which are sensitive to changes in humidity and temperature constrict usually with 5 to 10 minutes after you being to exercise making it difficult to breathe. While most patients asthma symptoms occur within a few minutes, for others it can take several hours.

Try a warm-up run!

Exercise-induced asthma should limit no one; exercise is an important part of a healthy lifestyle for everyone. One technique that helps many asthma athletes combat their symptoms is the warm-up run. So to get the most out of this technique, begin your exercise routine with a moderately intense initial run. For example, run at about 80% max effort for around 200-300 yards or meters. For many athletes this results in a 3-4 hour refractory period (significant reduction in exercise asthma symptoms). This technique is definitely worth a try.

Did you know?

The NCAA and the United States Olympic Committee have different inhalers which they allow during competition. So check out websites for updated medicine-use details. The United States Olympic Committee also banned any medication that has a decongestant “D” including many over-the-counter preparation with pseudoephedrine.

Thanks for joining us in figuring out what’s triggering your condition. Is something triggering you? We’d love to help you figure out what it may be. Completing an Exhale analysis will help you know for sure.

Hey, have you checked out our recently released eBook? It’s called, “What Every Mom Should Know About Childhood Asthma.” Stay tuned to the next article in this series on asthma.

Would you like to share your asthma or allergy story and inspire other parents? Share your family’s journey updates with us across social media! Find us on Twitter @ExhaleWithUs and on our Facebook page. We’d love to hear from you!


Dr Paul Detjen

Ask a Chicago North Shore mom for an allergist, and she’s very likely to refer you to Dr. Paul Detjen. He has been a practicing allergist-immunologist for over 20 years after receiving his medical degree from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and completing his residency and fellowship at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. Dr. Detjen is affiliated with multiple hospitals in the Chicagoland area, including NorthShore Evanston Hospital and Northwestern Memorial Hospital. He has helped thousands of families address allergies and asthma to live healthier, better lives. Dr. Detjen believes in Exhale – the product and the passionate team behind it. “I’m so thrilled that there’s finally a user-friendly solution for detecting allergens that trigger allergies and asthma,” Dr. Detjen says. “I know how stressful it is when your child can’t breathe easily. That’s why I am excited to be professionally involved with Exhale.”
Dr Paul Detjen
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