George Schiffman, MD, FCCP
Dr. Schiffman received his B.S. degree with High Honors in biology from Hobart College in 1976. He then moved to Chicago where he studied biochemistry at the University of Illinois, Chicago Circle. He attended Rush Medical College where he received his M.D. degree in 1982 and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Medical Honor Society. He completed his Internal Medicine internship and residency at the University of California, Irvine.
Alan Szeftel, MD
Dr. Szeftel received his Medical Degree from the University of Cape Town Medical School in South Africa. His clinical training was at Groote Schuur Hospital. He completed his Internal Medicine residency at Brigham & Women's Hospital and Harvard University. He is board certified in Internal Medicine, Pulmonary Diseases, Critical Care and Allergy and Immunology.
William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.
In this Article
- Myths, facts, and statistics about asthma
- What is asthma?
- From the past to the present
- The scope of the problem
- Normal bronchial tubes
- How does asthma affect breathing?
- The importance of inflammation
- Which triggers cause an asthma attack?
- The many faces of asthma
- Types: allergic (extrinsic) and nonallergic (intrinsic) asthma
- Typical asthma symptoms and signs
- Acute asthma attack
- What medications are used in the treatment of asthma?
- Asthma At A Glance
- Asthma FAQs
- Find a local Asthma & Allergy Specialist in your town
Which triggers cause an asthma attack?
Asthma symptoms may be activated or aggravated by many agents. Not all asthmatics react to the same triggers. Additionally, the effect that each trigger has on the lungs varies from one individual to another. In general, the severity of your asthma depends on how many agents activate your symptoms and how sensitive your lungs are to them. Most of these triggers can also worsen nasal or eye symptoms.
Triggers fall into two categories:
- allergens ("specific");
- nonallergens -- mostly irritants (nonspecific).
Once your bronchial tubes (nose and eyes) become inflamed from an allergic exposure, a re-exposure to the offending allergens will often activate symptoms. These "reactive" bronchial tubes might also respond to other triggers, such as exercise, infections, and other irritants. The following is a simple checklist.
Common asthma triggers:
- "seasonal" pollens
- year-round dust mites, molds, pets, and insect parts
- foods, such as fish, egg, peanuts, nuts, cow's milk, and soy
- additives, such as sulfites
- work-related agents, such as latex, epoxides, and formaldehyde
About 80% of children and 50% of adults with asthma also have allergies.
- respiratory infections, such as those caused by viral "colds," bronchitis, and sinusitis
- drugs, such as aspirin, other NSAIDs (nonsteroidal antiinflammatory drugs), and beta blockers (used to treat blood pressure and other heart conditions)
- tobacco smoke
- outdoor factors, such as smog, weather changes, and diesel fumes
- indoor factors, such as paint, detergents, deodorants, chemicals, and perfumes
- GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disorder)
- exercise, especially under cold dry conditions
- work-related factors, such as chemicals, dusts, gases, and metals
- emotional factors, such as laughing, crying, yelling, and distress
- hormonal factors, such as in premenstrual syndrome
Next: The many faces of asthma
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