What Causes My Asthma to Flare-Up?

Girl sitting exhaustedThe most common symptoms linked to asthma are wheezing, shortness of breath, a feeling of chest tightness, and coughing. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, one in every 13 people in the US has asthma, which is the leading cause of childhood chronic disease.

The severity of asthma symptoms varies depending on the person diagnosed with this chronic respiratory disorder, just as the underlying causes are not the same for every afflicted person.

If you are the parent of a child with symptoms commonly associated with asthma or are experiencing such symptoms yourself, consulting with a physician at Arkansas Allergy and Asthma may help you alleviate asthma symptoms. Our Little Rock and Conway physicians are specialists in treating asthma and allergies in children and adults.

Six Common Asthma Triggers

According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), there are six key triggers of asthma symptoms:

  • Exposure to cigarette smoke

  • Cockroach droppings and dust mites

  • Pollutants in the air (e.g., auto exhaust emissions)

  • Mold growing in the home, school, or workplace

  • Pet hair and dander

  • Frequent upper respiratory illnesses (e.g., head colds and flu)

High exposure to an asthma trigger can lead to an exacerbation that can be especially frightening in children. This heightened sense of fear can result in worsened asthma attack symptoms, as well as longer-lasting symptoms.

Three Types of Asthma

Asthma may also be differentiated upon diagnosis into the following three types (per the Mayo Clinic):

  1. Allergy-induced asthma – asthma attack triggered by airborne particles such as tree pollen.

  2. Occupational asthma – asthma attack triggered by exposure to chemical irritants in the workplace.

  3. Exercise-induced asthma – asthma attack triggered by jogging in the cold or damp air.

Our doctor’s ability to diagnose and treat both allergies and asthma distinguishes our Little Rock asthma clinic, also our location in Conway, from other Arkansas medical offices. In fact, allergists are specifically trained to diagnose and treat patients who have asthma, allergies, and immunologic diseases.

Genetics and Asthma

Asthma tends to run in families, and the heritable risk for developing this disorder ranges from 25-80 percent. However, an article in the European Clinical Respiratory Journal concluded that asthma is not caused by a single genetic mutation, but rather the interaction of multiple genetic factors with predisposing environmental factors.

Common Asthma Treatments

The following two types of medications are used in treating asthma: quick-relief medications and preventative maintenance medication. For quick relief, people with asthma typically are prescribed an emergency bronchodilator inhaler. These inhalers act quickly, relaxing the lungs’ bronchial muscles, causing them to dilate and open wider. An emergency bronchodilator works effectively for short-term relief and can help with acute airway distress. However, a physician’s asthma treatment plan is aimed at long-term asthma control.

The most utilized medications for the treatment of asthma aim to reduce airway inflammation, reducing the likelihood of asthma flare-ups. We offer various treatment options, including corticosteroids for short-term inflammation and swelling relief; long-acting beta-agonists, which are slower, longer-lasting forms of bronchodilators; and immunotherapy treatments such as allergy shots. While forming your personalized treatment plan at Arkansas Allergy and Asthma, we can help you decide which treatment option is right for you.

Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Approximately 16 million people in the US have Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD). COPD is a general term used to describe progressive respiratory disorders like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Asthma is considered a risk factor for COPD. According to the American Lung Association (ALA), children who have severe asthma are 32 times more likely to develop COPD in adulthood than children with mild asthma symptoms. 

Cigarette Smoke and Asthma

Tobacco smoke exposure is a major cause of asthma symptoms in children and adults. Exposure to first- or second-hand smoke by children with asthma can actually trigger an asthma attack.

Limiting your child’s exposure to cigarette smoke is not just beneficial to their health, but can also help preclude the development of COPD. One way to decrease the likelihood of an asthma flare-up in your child is to set up and follow an asthma treatment plan specially developed for your child.

As a resident of the Little Rock or Conway areas, our local asthma clinics make it easy and convenient to adhere to your regular follow-up appointments.

Adult-Onset Asthma Symptoms

When asthma symptoms first appear in people aged 20 and older, this can indicate adult-onset asthma. Allergies trigger at least 30 percent of adults with this form of asthma, and it most often afflicts adults aged 40 and older. (Frequent upper respiratory illnesses are also considered a likely cause of this form of asthma.)

The doctors at Arkansas Allergy and Asthma in Little Rock and Conway are well-trained to recognize asthma attack symptoms and to determine the appropriate course of treatment – regardless of the age at asthma onset. Make an appointment today to get started on creating a customized treatment plan to help you live a healthy, happy life.