Asthma can also affect people who are not allergic to any particular substance. If you have symptoms that mimic asthma and an allergy test throws up a negative, you should consult a specialist. One of the common myths of asthma is that the episodes are only caused by allergies. In fact, allergies are just one type of triggers. There are many other triggers that can cause inflammation of the airways and produce symptoms exactly like allergic asthma.
Certain illnesses or infections, particularly in the respiratory tract, can trigger an asthma attack.
- Common cold
- Sinus or throat infection, Rhinitis
Once you notice the symptoms, the doctors will examine you and will treat you on a course of corticosteroids for about 15 days. Once the symptoms improve, the medication can be stopped.
The following diseases can be asthma triggers.
- Chronic pulmonary obstructive disease – This condition has symptoms that are very similar to asthma. Smokers are at a high risk of asthma. It is treated with inhalers and medication and one has to stop smoking.
- Reflux disease GERD – It is a condition where the food and acids in our stomach enter the esophagus. This can cause cough and trigger asthma-like symptoms. Eating smaller meals, avoiding chilled food, and exercising can help improve GERD. You should avoid food that triggers the reflux and also not lie down right after eating. You will be prescribed medication that reduces acidity and inhibits reflux.
- Allergic bronchopulmonary aspergillosis (ABPA) – People with asthma are at risk for contracting ABPA as this is a condition that happens because of sensitivity to fungi. This is treated with corticosteroids and oral antifungal medication.
- Nasal polyps – This is a small growth seen inside the nose caused by inflammation in the sinuses. It becomes highly sensitive to allergens. This condition can lead to symptoms like asthma. It is treated for allergies with nasal sprays. The lining can be removed surgically too.
- Obstructive sleep apnea – This can be a condition that causes disturbances in breathing patterns while a person is sleeping. It happens when the throat and tongue muscles relax and begin to obstruct the airways. People who are obese are at high risk. OSA is a very serious condition and needs to be treated immediately.
Medication like aspirin and other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory medicines can bring out asthma-like symptoms. Beta blockers, a class of medication used to treat cardiovascular diseases, can also cause asthma. The dosage will be tweaked or medication will be changed until symptoms improve.
Sudden exposure to hot or cold air is a very common trigger of asthma. Rains and heavy winds displace pollen and dust and inhaling them can trigger symptoms.
Exercise-induced bronchoconstriction is a type of asthma triggered by physical activity as it makes you breathe harder and faster. The symptoms appear a few minutes after you complete your exercise regimen. A person who takes his medication regularly does not have to stop being physically active. This is one of the myths about asthma that needs to be broken.
Apart from non-allergic triggers, there are some food additives that can trigger an asthma attack. Those who are at risk should check the ingredients list before buying such products. Menopause and its hormonal changes can also trigger asthma-like symptoms in women.
People who are affected by asthma should avoid triggers, take medication without a break and focus on eating healthy – all these together can help them live a normal life.