This following article discusses the symptoms of asthma and the wide range of triggers that can provoke an attack. It offers practical advice on how to identify and control triggers in the home, the workplace, and the general environment. Guidelines concerning how to enhance indoor air quality are provided.

Taking Control

Asthmatic bronchitis is on the increase. Experts conclude that the increase is due to worsening atmospheric pollution and increasing allergens. Even more worrisome is the number of new cases in infants being diagnosed daily. Childhood and infant asthma affects and estimated ten percent of children in the Western hemisphere.

These statistics are indeed a cause for concern for both parents and the medical profession.

Although medication and treatment are becoming increasingly targeted and specific to help manage these alarming trends, asthmatics and parents of affected children can do much to control the numerous triggers that exist in our everyday environment.

The Key to Management

It is estimated that approximately 5% of adults and 10% of children suffer from the asthma.

Asthma triggers are everywhere in our environment: indoors, outdoors and in the very air we breathe. Identifying triggers, however, is not always simple. It usually involves a process of elimination. An excellent starting point is a discussion with your doctor. Ask for guidance. Your doctor may recommend a skin test for allergies. To assist your doctor, keep a personal medical diary to record the details of instances when your symptoms become particularly aggravated. It might be simple things like coming into a smoky or dusty environment or exercising outdoors in the cold air.

But first things first: learn to recognize the general symptoms of asthma caused by exposure to such triggers.

Typical symptoms include:

  • Breathlessness
  • The tightness of the chest (often painless)
  • Wheezing (loudness varies from almost inaudible to very loud)
  • Sweating, increased pulse rate and anxiety (more pronounced in severe cases)
  • Bluish tint to face and lips (cyanosis) in acute attacks
  • A cough (due to the accumulation of phlegm—sputum—in the lungs).

What is a trigger

A trigger is any material or situation which provokes a reaction in the respiratory tract, thus “triggering” an attack. Anyone who already has asthma or exhibits allergic symptoms of asthma is particularly sensitive to such triggers.

Recognizing Infant Asthma

Identifying symptoms and triggers in infant asthma is not as straightforward as it is for teens and adults. Sometimes the symptoms are masked so a parent might be unaware that the child has asthma. Parents can easily misdiagnose the symptoms as merely “a bit of a wheeze.”

The sobering reality is that the majority of infants who die from asthma do so because their parents have failed to identify the seriousness of their condition.

Learn to distinguish between the symptoms of a common cold and those of severe asthmatic bronchitis in your infant. Persistent hacking or a congested cough, with or without wheezing, can sometimes indicate the onset of asthmatic bronchitis in newborns. Much better to be secure than sorry: if uncertain, consult your child’s pediatrician.

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