What Causes My Asthma to Flare-Up?

The most common symptoms linked to asthma are wheezing, shortness of breath, a feeling of chest tightness, and coughing. One in every 13 people in the US has asthma, and it is the leading cause of childhood chronic disease, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

However, asthma severity is not the same for all people diagnosed with this chronic respiratory disorder, nor are the underlying causes 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 to alleviate asthma symptoms. Our Little Rock and Conway physicians are specialists in treating asthma and allergies in children, as well as adults.

Six Key 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 a flare that can be especially frightening in children this heightened sense of fear can result in worsened asthma attack symptoms, as well as longer-duration symptoms.

Three Types of Asthma

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

  1. Exercise-induced asthma- asthma attack triggered by jogging in cold or damp air.
  2. Allergy-induced asthma- asthma attack triggered by airborne particles such as tree pollen.
  3. Occupational asthma- asthma attack triggered by exposure to chemical irritants in the workplace.

The capacity to diagnose and treat both allergies and asthma is something that distinguishes our Little Rock asthma clinic, also located in Conway, from other Arkansas asthma clinics.

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 pharmaceutical agents and long-lasting pharmaceutical agents. For quick relief, people with asthma typically utilize an emergency bronchodilating inhaler. These inhalers act quickly, relaxing the bronchial muscles in the lungs, causing them to dilate and open wider. An emergency bronchodilator works effectively for short-term relief, and can avert what might be a life-threatening asthma attack. However, a physician’s asthma treatment plan is aimed at long-term asthma control.

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) lists five essential goals for successful asthma treatment:

  • Prevention of chronic and troublesome symptoms (e.g., frequent coughing)
  • Reducing the need for using quick-relieving (emergency) inhalers
  • Maintenance of overall lung function
  • Maintenance of normal activity functioning and sleep quality
  • Prevention of asthma flares that can lead to Emergency Department visits

The most utilized medications for the treatment of asthma are aimed at reducing airway inflammation, thereby reducing the likelihood of asthma flare-ups. To that end, we offer a variety of 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 will help you decide which treatment option is right for you.

What is the Relationship of Childhood Obesity to Asthma?

As of 2018, 26 percent of children between 2-5 years of age in the US have a Body Mass Index (BMI) in the clinically obese range. Meanwhile, a 2018 article in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology classifies obesity is a modifiable risk factor for asthma. The same article also notes that obese individuals with asthma are more likely to experience the following:

  • Higher degree of symptoms
  • Frequent and severe asthma exacerbations
  • Reduced response to standard asthma medications
  • Decreased quality of life

Whether your appointment with one of our physicians in Little Rock or Conway is to better manage your child’s asthma symptoms or your own symptoms, we will work with you to identify and prevent exposure to asthma triggers. The asthma treatment plan developed for you or your child encompasses the different types of asthma experienced, so lifestyle changes (such as weight loss) may be involved.

Asthma and Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD)

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is a general term used to describe progressive respiratory disorders like emphysema and chronic bronchitis. Around 24 million people in the US have COPD.

Meanwhile, asthma is considered a risk factor for COPD. According to the American Lung Association (ALA) children afflicted with severe asthma are 32 times more likely to develop COPD in adulthood than children with mild asthma symptoms. While asthma is defined by the ALA as potentially reversible, the ALA defines COPD as irreversible.

Cigarette Smoke, Asthma, and COPD

One of the foremost causes of COPD is smoking. A smoking cessation program is recommended for anyone diagnosed with asthma and/or COPD. Exposure to 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 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 Little Rock and Conway 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 the presence of adult-onset asthma. At least 30 percent of adults with this form of asthma is triggered by allergies, 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.