Asthma Attack Triggers You Should Be Aware Of

Asthma Attack Santa Ana, California Jose L. Valdez, MD.

Roughly 26.5 million Americans suffer from asthma, and for many asthma sufferers, it isn’t just a mild respiratory condition — it can get very serious very quickly.

Asthma is chronic inflammation of the bronchial tubes that obstructs air from entering and exiting the lungs. Symptoms of asthma include coughing, wheezing, and tightness in the chest. Sometimes asthma symptoms can worsen, either suddenly or over the course of a few days, resulting in acute breathing difficulties known as an asthma attack.

Half of all asthma sufferers experience one or more asthma attacks each year, and they can be very serious. Asthma sufferers have referred to asthma attacks as feeling like they are drowning in air.

It can be very distressing for adult and child sufferers alike, but it can also be extremely dangerous. There are an estimated 3,500 deaths each year due to asthma attacks, so an asthma attack that doesn’t respond quickly to treatment is a medical emergency.

Causes of asthma attacks

Everyone who suffers from asthma has a unique trigger or range of triggers that can cause their symptoms to flare up. For some, their triggers are very obvious, but for others, asthma attacks seem to come from nowhere. By strictly monitoring symptoms and keeping a diary of events leading up to an attack, you can determine a pattern and discover your asthma triggers.

Asthma doesn’t always respond to triggers in the same way, as the sensitivity of your respiratory system can change throughout the seasons and with age. Multiple triggers can also work together to amplify symptoms and cause a more serious asthma attack.

The most common triggers you should be aware of are:


A respiratory infection, like a cough or a cold, can cause an increase in asthma symptoms and leave your airways more vulnerable. Flu can be particularly dangerous for asthma sufferers and can lead to respiratory distress even in healthy individuals. That’s why Dr. Jose Valdez recommends a flu shot for all of his Santa Ana, California, asthma patients every year.

Having an infection like a cold can make you more susceptible to having an asthma attack if you come into contact with one of your other asthma triggers, even if your asthma is otherwise mild.


Asthma is often an allergic condition, but the range of potential allergens are huge. For some, seasonal allergies to plant pollen or mold spores are a trigger. For others, exposure to pet dander can be a trigger. People can be allergic to one type of animal, or multiple, though there are some “hypoallergenic” breeds that can be better tolerated.

Another very common allergic trigger for asthma are dust mites. Keeping a home clean and free from excessive soft furnishings and soft toys can help keep dust mites in the home to a minimum.

Food allergies can also exacerbate asthma. As part of Dr. Valdez’s treatment plan, he recommends immunotherapy to lessen the effects of allergens on your body through careful, controlled exposure to the substances that produce a reaction.


Some substances can irritate the airways even though there isn’t an allergy. Irritation causes more inflammation to the bronchial tubes, along with mucus secretions, and can result in an asthma attack. Air pollution, cigarette smoke, certain chemicals like in-home air fresheners, scented candles, cleaning substances, and perfumes can all irritate the airways.

Wearing a mask outside and avoiding chemicals and perfumes can help you avoid an asthma attack if irritants are a trigger for you.


You may find your asthma can be triggered by exercise, or even by laughing or sex. In fact, some people suffer from a form of asthma that is solely triggered by exercise — this is called exercise-induced asthma. Dr. Valdez can prescribe medications that can help reduce the effects of exercise-induced asthma. You only need to take the medication prior to exercise and not necessarily on a regular basis.


In children, particularly, stress and crying can induce an asthma attack, because these emotions change regular breathing patterns. Finding coping mechanisms to deal with upset and finding tools to help you, or your child, remain calm can be beneficial.

Practice mindful breathing and incorporate natural ways to battle stress, such as yoga and meditation. These coping strategies can help people whose asthma symptoms increase when they are distressed or excited.


Even in the mild Californian winters, the damp conditions that accompany wet weather can cause an increase in asthma symptoms and leave patients reaching for their inhaler more frequently. And the dry Santa Ana winds kick up dust that irritate lungs and trigger allergy attacks.

Dr. Valdez will schedule regular asthma checkups with you to ensure you are prepared for seasonal changes.

Dr. Valdez provides a range of effective treatment options and advice for all patients suffering from asthma in Santa Ana, California, and surrounding areas. To start discovering what your asthma triggers are and how you can control them, contact us at the office of Jose L. Valdez, MD.

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