Asthma Triggers - The importance of identifying asthma triggers

In many patients airway inflammation can be controlled effectively with inhaled anti-inflammatory drugs. Modern treatments not only help prevent the airways from constricting, but also reduce the production of lung secretions.

However, in some patients asthma remains poorly controlled despite maximum use of the normal inhaled treatment options. In these patients identification and control of trigger factors for asthma may help in achieving asthma control. Furthermore, for patients whose asthma is well controlled with treatment, avoidance of trigger factors may help in maintaining asthma control with less or no treatment. This is therefore important and success relies on patients and their doctors working together, because the triggers are not always obvious.

So what are the key issues with trying to identify the asthma triggers?

Problems in identifying asthma triggers

  • They are non-visible
  • There is often continuous low dose exposure to inhaled allergens (immune reaction triggers)
  • There is often exposure to multiple triggers
  • Often there is an absence of early airway response to triggers
  • The triggers change i.e. the triggers not affected previously (new sensitisation)
  • The triggers may be non-inhaled

Dr Makker’s article is for those generalist healthcare professionals who wish to extend their knowledge into this highly specialist area, and for expert patients who really want to get a better understanding of the science and current treatment option philosophies.

Any substance that provokes an allergic reaction Full medical glossary
Any drug that suppresses inflammation Full medical glossary
A respiratory disease featuring attacks of breathlessness and wheezing due to inflammation and narrowing of the upper airways. There is often an allergic component. Full medical glossary
The basic unit of genetic material carried on chromosomes. Full medical glossary
The body’s response to injury. Full medical glossary