Allergies and asthma don’t always go hand in hand, but most people who have asthma also have allergies. Those allergies can trigger breath-stealing asthma attacks.
Things like pollen, mold, and animal dander can set off an allergic reaction in some people that results in hives, itching, sneezing, and wheezing. When this reaction occurs in the chest, it’s called asthma. In the lungs, allergic reactions cause spasms and thick, sticky mucus. When an asthmatic has an attack, his lungs feel clogged and twitchy, and his chest feels tight.
Though not all people with asthma have allergies, those who do should identify their allergic triggers and avoid them.
Some of the more common asthma triggers to avoid:
- Foods like chocolate, nuts, shellfish, and eggs.
- Beverages like orange juice, beer, wine, and milk.
- Mold spores and pollen. When pollen counts are high, try to stay indoors as much as possible.
- Dander from pets such as cats, dogs, hamsters, and rabbits. If you can’t bear to part with your family pet, try to keep it outside and bathe it often.
- Feather pillows, down comforters, and wool clothing. Use smooth blankets on your bed.
- Dust. Damp dust and damp mop instead of using brooms that raise dust. Use washable fabrics for curtains and rugs.
- Cleaning products like bleach and furniture polish.
Avoiding your triggers may help you avoid the chest-squeezing experience of an asthma attack.
Source: Allergy and Asthma, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Milwaukee (1995)