Cold air, pollen, smoke, mold, dust mites, extreme heat, pet dander… There are many common asthma triggers the world is well aware of. But then, did you know your favourite cocktail or a thunderstorm may induce an attack or worsen your symptoms. It is crucial for asthma patients to identify their triggers to avoid or control any potential episode. This World Asthma Day, which is annually observed on May 2, we list five unusual asthma triggers and tell you how to handle them.

Also read: Should people with asthma, living in polluted cities, exercise?

1. Thunderstorm

Recent studies have confirmed that although rare, thunderstorm-triggered asthma is actually a real thing. These episodes are the result of airborne allergens from pollen grains being released during electrical storms and then, getting spread by gusty winds from thunderstorm downdrafts. This ultimately leads to an increase in the risk of asthma attacks in allergic individuals.

What to do: If you are allergic to pollen, make sure to stay inside and keep your windows shut during sudden weather changes. If exposed, wash off the pollen after coming back home.

2. Air fresheners

You may love it when your home smells extra fresh but these air fresheners, scented candles, and even incense sticks may trigger an episode of great discomfort. They can aggravate allergies and irritate the sensitive airways of an asthma patient.

What to do: As far as possible, refrain from using products with added odours. Always ensure good ventilation when indoors.

Also read: Not just asthma, exposure to air pollution can lead to irregular heartbeat too

3. Aspirin

As per medical studies, 20 percent of asthmatic population is allergic to aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, acetaminophen, and naproxen. Aspirin-induced asthma attacks can be severely dangerous, even fatal in some cases.

What to do: Always read ​​the labels of over-the-counter painkillers to minimise the changes of any triggers. If consumed, immediately visit your doctor. LT-modifying drugs are effective in blocking the bronchoconstriction provoked by aspirin, but do consult a health expert before taking any medication.

4. Stress

That feeling of your chest tightening followed by restlessness when you’re in stress may be anxiety weighing you down, or a potential asthma attack! Experiencing psychological distress can sometimes increase airway inflammation in patients, resulting in a trigger.

What to do: Breathing exercises are a crucial aspect of yoga for asthma patients. Certain asanas like Shukasana, Bhujangasana, and Pranayam have been found to be extremely helpful in improving lung function and bringing down the stress levels.

5. Alcohol 

Due to the presence of histamines and sulfites, certain alcoholic beverages may worsen your asthma symptoms, eventually leading to an attack. What’s more alarming is that even if you aren’t allergic, alcohol can worsen your symptoms if you have food allergies. Overall, red wine is said to be the most common inducer.

What to do: The only way to make sure alcohol isn’t making your breathing more difficult is to avoid it entirely. If you still wish to indulge, pay close attention to your breathing and carry an inhaler at all times. Or better yet, switch to equally delicious mocktails!

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