Knowing Your Common Asthma Triggers (Video)

A new study finds that older adults with asthma are five times more likely to die from this chronic condition, compared to younger patients. And medical complications are more common among seniors with asthma, researchers concluded.

A respiratory disease that inflames the lungs and interferes with breathing, asthma can also be a serious condition in children if it is left unmanageable or untreated. Poorly controlled and undiagnosed asthma in children can result in trips to the emergency room and even hospital stays. And over time, asthmatic episodes can take their toll on older Americans. More people 65 and older are being diagnosed with asthma in the U.S., new studies have found.

Asthma medicines, such as those taken by inhalers, are very safe and effective when used as directed. But there are common asthma triggers that can be avoided at home, in the office and in public places. Recognizing these triggers can prevent trips to the ER or serious episodes for both children and adults.

“If you or a family member has asthma, you can manage it with the help of your health care provider and by avoiding triggers,” says Javier Hiriart, M.D., a pediatrician and physician with Baptist Health Primary Care, Family Medicine Center at West Kendall Baptist Hospital.

(Video: The Baptist Health South Florida News Team hears from Javier Hiriart, M.D. about common asthma triggers.)


Asthma causes repeated episodes of wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness, and nighttime or early morning coughing, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Sufferers usually only have asthma attacks when something bothers their lungs.

Common asthma triggers, according to the CDC, include:

  • Tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke;
  • Respiratory infections, such as the common cold;
  • Allergies;
  • Pets;
  • Mold;
  • Dust in the home;
  • Outdoor air pollution.

“Sometimes asthma attacks can be triggered by allergies,” says Dr. Hiriart. “To determine if an allergic reaction to a substance has caused an asthma attack, doctors can perform tests that look for antibodies.”

There are asthma triggers that some parents may not be realize can aggravate their child’s asthma or allergies, such as dust and dust mites found in the home.

Here are actions you can take to limit exposure to dust and dust mites in the home:

  • Replace blinds that have cloth draperies with pull-down shades.
  • Get rid of fabric or upholstered furniture.
  • Replace wall-to-wall carpet with wood or other hard flooring.
  • Change air-conditioner filters frequently.

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