Coping with Asthma Triggers

My asthma diagnosis occurred in my mid twenties. A large pine tree in our front yard was being cut down and I had respiratory distress. It was a frightening awakening to this disorder. It also left me with many problems, not the least of which was what else could cause an attack.

Discovery: There are two ways to find out you have an asthma trigger. One is the hard wayâÂ?¦run into it and have an attack. The other is to be tested. I truly recommend the second. The temporary discomfort of the tests is much better than wondering if you’ll be able to get in your next breath.

Breathe or Be Polite: This actually isn’t usually an either/or situation. Most of those who cause my triggers are more than happy to refrain from using whatever it is when I’m with them. This includes smokers. As one just pointed out to me, smokers are people just like us. They don’t want to cause pain and will gladly avoid causing an asthma attack.

How to Talk about it: Several of my relatives are/were smokers. There are definitely two ways to do this. I’ve seen my mother lecture someone who just demanded she stopped smoking in their presence. She also has allergy triggers and I’ve watched her slowly back away from (or lecture) someone who was wearing far too much perfume.

The best way to talk about this problem is to explain what it is. Tell the person that you have asthma and X causes an attack. Most of them will understand.

When it may be inappropriate: Unless the conversation has taken place elsewhere it really isn’t polite to ask someone to stop doing things in their own home. If they prefer Pine-sol as a cleaner, they aren’t going to be able to change that very quicklyâÂ?¦or want to do so. If they smoke, you probably already knew that before the visit. A person’s home is, to borrow the proverb, their castle.

Advance Preparations: As I’ve mentioned, I’m allergic to pine. This gives me a huge problem at Christmas time. I don’t know what type of tree is in someone’s houseâÂ?¦or any other location. Christmas trees can be found in stores, in churches, in homes and in the center of town. At Christmas I make sure I have a full rescue inhaler and appropriate medications so that if I do run into a pine tree I can still breathe.

Aside from the fear factor asthma has been one of the most annoying medical problems I’ve had to deal with. It’s a public relations nightmare. It makes itself known whether I want it to or not. All I can do is remember the above coping skills and be grateful that the people I know and love are willing to help me avoid another asthma attack.

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