There are many triggers which can start an asthmatic attack. The triggers may be different for every individual. These may be substances, environmental conditions, even physical activities.
Common Asthma Triggers
Infections of the airway
viral or bacteria infections are amongst the top causes of asthma attacks
Pet furs, cigarette smoke, dusts in the air, pests like cockroaches and dust mites
Food and additives
Peanuts, eggs, seafood, dairy products, wheat and additives like MSG and food dyes.
NSAID ( non steroidal anti inflammatory drugs ) such as aspirin, ibuprofen
Like perfumes and cologne, fumigation chemicals, paints
can trigger some asthma attacks
Asthma Control Test
A good asthma treatment plan is by grading the severity of the condition via scoring system known as Asthma Control Test (ACT) – go to asthmasingapore.com > resources
If you score is 20 or above - your asthma is well controlled
If your score is 19 or less , that means that we can do more to improve your condition.
These are simple questionnaires that you may even do at home!
Symptoms occur less than twice a week & wakes you up less than two nights a month
Mild persistent Asthma
Symptoms occurring two more days a week & waking you up 3-4 nights a month
Moderate persistent Asthma
Symptoms occurring daily and waking you up one or more nights a week
Severe Persistent Asthma
Symptoms occurs daily, and wake you up every night due
In principle, the more severe your asthma, the higher the dose of medications to try to control your symptoms.
Mainly inhalers that works directly on the respiratory system.
Ventolin inhalers, salbutamol inhalers. Typically blue or dark blue in colour. They help to reverse the tightening of the airway during an asthma attack.
These inhalers should be used only on when required and not on a daily basis. In fact, there are studies that suggests that prolonged indiscriminate usage of relievers may actually worsen your asthma.
Inhalers that actually stabilises the airway and reduces the inflammation and hyperactivity. Examples are steroid inhalers and long acting airway muscle relaxers. These canisters are usually not blue in colour - they may be purple, brown, white and red.
These are medications that we use on a daily basis over a long period of time to reduce the number of asthma attacks and also to reduce or minimise the need for you to use the blue Ventolin inhalers.
In sudden asthmatic attacks , physicians may also use oral steroids to suppress the inflammatory state in the airway to reduce the severity of the attacks.
Top 8 tips to prevent asthma attacks
- Take your preventer inhalers regularly as instructed by your doctor
- See a doctor when you are starting to have flu symptoms
- Keep your environment clean and dust free
- Sun your mattress and pillow and blanket regularly to prevent mites growing
- Avoid fragrances
- Avoid smoking or second hand cigarette smoke
- Identify your asthma triggers and avoiding them
- Go for your annual flu vaccination
By : Dr Chen Yiming
Family Physician, MBBS (Singapore), GDFM (NUS), GDFP Dermatology (NUS)