What triggers asthma


If a child has asthma, many things can cause its symptoms. The causes of each child’s symptoms are different. Sometimes it is difficult to know what causes the symptoms.  Work together with your paediatrician to find what will help the child.


Triggering causes of asthma are of three types:


1.    Irritants


Strong smells, such as perfumes

Viruses and colds


Atmospheric pollution

Sudden change of temperature, exposure to cold


How to limit exposure to irritants


Smoke: don’t let anyone smoke in the house. Smoke is very irritating, and remains in closed areas for a long time. Don’t smoke in the car. Sit in the area for non-smokers in restaurants.

Strong smells: avoid smells from detergents, perfumes, hair spray, paint, insecticides, deodorants, petrol.

Viruses: Teach the child to wash his hands. Get the influenza vaccine.

Chemicals: avoid contact with charcoal, chalk, talc.

Atmospheric pollution: Keep the child away from exhaust pipes, chimneys, and factories.

Sudden changes: avoid sudden big changes in temperature, humidity, or strong wind.


2.    Allergens

Pollen from flowers and trees

Pet hair

Dust mites




How to limit exposure to allergens


Pollen: The problem is worse during spring and autumn. If the child is obviously allergic to pollen, avoid going out when it’s windy. Keep the windows of the house and the car shut.

Dust: Mites are insects that can be found in carpets, mattresses, and curtains. They love heat and damp. What can you do?

Focus on the child’s room, or the room he plays in most of the time.

Don’t let the child sleep on the couch.

Cover mattresses and pillows with dust protection covers. Don’t use feather pillows.

Sheets should be washed regularly at high temperatures. Dry them in the tumble dryer and not outside. Don’t use woolen blankets.

Avoid carpets. If you have carpets, vacuum clean them at least twice a week. Clean up when the child is away for several hours. Regularly mop wooden and tile floors.

Don’t leave the child’s clothes out of the wardrobe. Don’t forget to regularly clean drawers and cupboards.

Avoid fireplaces and stoves.

Clean air-conditioner filters regularly.

Don’t overload the house with small objects, flowers, knick-knacks, and picture frames that gather a lot of dust.

Wash the curtains once a month.

Don’t use humidifiers; keep the air dry.

Don’t let the child play with teddy bears and soft toys. Don’t put them on his bed.

Pet hair: if possible, avoid pets in the house. Avoid visits to houses with dogs – cats.

Mould: Air all the rooms of the house without exception, and expose them to the sun. Avoid damp. Remove fallen leaves from the garden, and don’t cut the grass when the child is nearby. When you return home, make sure the child takes a bath.


3.    Other factors


Gastroesophageal reflux

Sensitivity to a medication (aspirin, ibuprofen)

Preservatives in foods


Exercise: even though exercise may cause symptoms, the child should not limit exercise and sports, unless advised to do so by the paediatrician. Exercise may be good for the health, the lungs, and the heart in the long run. Obesity and lack of movement make asthma worse.

Exercising for long periods of time usually does not help. On the contrary, swimming is ideal for children with asthma.

The child should not begin and end exercise suddenly.

15 minutes before exercise, the child should take the reliever medication prescribed by the paediatrician as a precaution.



Stelios Papaventsis MBBS MRCPCH DCH IBCLC 2012


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