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woman in hazmat suit with perfume being sprayed around her

New Triggers

Asthma is a disease that changes over time. Chances are almost certain that the asthma you have today will not be the same asthma you will have in 10 years.  It is episodic for the vast majority of asthmatics meaning when you aren’t in the middle of a flare-up, you don’t have asthma symptoms.  Just like asthma isn’t a one sized fits all disease, our triggers differ and they can also change over time. This has proven true for me since my family and I moved from Southern California to the Midwest.  While my previous triggers have stayed the same since moving here, I have noticed some new ones have joined the party.  I don’t necessarily blame all of my new triggers on our move but some triggers (new allergies) I know are new because of the different climate here in the Midwest.  For this post, I am referring to a new to me trigger that never bothered me before but now it’s a doozy- perfume and cologne.  In the past perfume and cologne never bothered me, unless it was super strong, in which case it would bother anyone’s lungs!

Some tips to deal with new asthma triggers

Over the past couple of years, I noticed being more and more sensitive to perfume and cologne. It doesn’t take much to set off my asthma. I am very fortunate to work in a hospital that has a scent-free policy but that doesn’t mean people who come into the building always know about it. The same goes for when I’m out shopping.  I never know what I am going to encounter, whether it is a known asthma trigger or a new one.  Here are some ways I have been dealing with my new triggers:

Be prepared!

ALWAYS have your reliever/rescue inhaler with you. This is so important!  While we try our best to avoid triggers, sometimes it’s unavoidable.

Remove yourself from the trigger

If possible, leave the area where the trigger is.  Sit down and remain calm.  Use your inhaler and take slow deep breaths. If you don’t get relief from your inhaler, refer to your asthma action plan for the next steps to take.  If you don’t have an action plan ask your doctor for one the next time you have an appointment.  It is a paper that contains your regular asthma medications and dosages/when to take them, as well as what steps to take when your asthma flares up and when to seek medical attention.

Communicate

Tell your family, friends, and coworkers about any and all new triggers that you have. Don’t feel bad or uneasy about doing this. Your breathing and health are important and it is very important for those around you to know what sets your asthma off, especially if it is a new trigger that didn’t bother you in the past. They will not only hopefully accommodate you (in my case avoid perfume) but also be on the lookout for anything when you are together and steer you away from it.

Do you have any new triggers?  If so, what do you do to help combat them?

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • robbym
    5 months ago

    I have had severe eAsthma since birth and have noticed some changes over the years. Some of my biggest triggers have become tolerable and others much worse. Some of these triggers are adapatable and others are not. EIA for example adapts to my level of fitness whereas my allergic asthma to dogs and horses don’t respond to any action or treatment. The big issue I am facing now is the ever expanding world of service animals creating denial of access situations. Back in the days when it was only seeing eye dogs it was manageable now that every other condition warrants a service animal my world is shrinking. Anybody else experience this?

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi robbym and thanks for joining in the conversation. We appreciate you sharing your viewpoint and perspective on Theresa’s article about ‘new triggers’. Hopefully, other members will respond to your inquiry. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

  • emusing
    5 months ago

    I have had a couple flare ups that were of unknown causes. So asthma doc is running tests to see what else I am allergic to.

    The episodic nature of asthma really is trickery- I get lulled into believing I won’t have another flare up. Yes, denial is a t play.

  • Shellzoo
    5 months ago

    I agree that it is easy to get lulled into believing there will be no more flares. I have felt like a normal person and am breathing great but I know it just takes one asthma trigger to get into trouble again. I started using a spacer with my inhalers so I think I am getting better delivery of the medications and thus feeling better. For a while I was using my rescue inhaler almost daily and I have hardly touched it the past few weeks. Still I will always be on guard and have the rescue inhaler with me.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi emusing and thanks for your comment. It is true, asthma can vary from patient to patient. It can even vary from time to time within the same patient. Good luck with the tests your physician is running. Please be sure to check back and let us know how you’re doing. All the best, Leon (site moderator)

  • rjmoon
    5 months ago

    I find I have become much more sensitive to strong chemical smells and to some scented detergents and cleansers. I haven’t figured out exactly what products and brands will/won’t set me off, so I try to stick to unscented products and use vinegar and water instead of chemical cleansers wherever possible, and it works out well. I’m usually okay in stores as long as I don’t linger too long in those aisles – I just grab what I need and get out.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi rjmoon and thanks for joining in this conversation. We appreciate you sharing how you are managing your own triggers – both the ones you are cognizant of and the ones you’re still trying to identify. Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    5 months ago

    Hi krishwaecosse and thanks for this post. The triggers that you are aware of, should be relatively easy to track and avoid.
    For the triggers you don’t know about – for that you have to more of a detective. If you find yourself being affected and experiencing some sort of asthma exacerbation, you’ll have to drill down and evaluate what you may have been exposed to that would trigger the symptoms. You may also want to discuss this further with your physician. What do you think? Leon (site moderator)

  • krishwaecosse
    5 months ago

    If you can’t identify what has triggered your asthma symptoms, how do you remove yourself from them?
    Most of the time i know what my triggers are, but sometimes symptoms occur seemingly out of the blue.

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