Why do aerosols trigger asthma?

Aerosols are airway irritants

People with asthma have sensitive airways that become inflamed easily. There are a number of different things that can trigger asthma symptoms such as wheezing, breathlessness, chest tightness and coughing. Asthma is managed by medicine taken by an inhaler (for example the Ventolin Evohaler or Salamol Easi-Breathe). 

What causes asthma? 

There are a number of things that can cause asthma. You're more likely to get it if: 

  • You have a family history of asthma 
  • You have an allergic condition like eczema, hay fever or food allergy
  • You had bronchiolitis as a child  
  • You were exposed to tobacco smoke as a child 
  • You were born prematurely 
  • You had a low birth weight 
  • You work in an environment which has at risk factors for occupational asthma  

These are possible underlying causes for developing the condition. Asthma is a long-term condition that affects the lungs and there are a number of factors that can trigger the symptoms of it. These include: 

  • Exposure to allergies (such as pollen, dust mites or pet hair)
  • A cold or flu virus
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Polluted air
  • Certain types of medicines 
  • Stress 
  • Laughter or emotional responses 
  • Sulphites 
  • Cold weather
  • Hot weather 
  • Mould
  • Damp
  • Chemicals 
  • Exercise 
  • Food allergies 

How do aerosols trigger asthma? 

Aerosol sprays are a type of irritant that can cause your airways and lungs to become inflamed. This happens because the sprays penetrate the air around you, particularly with deodorant and hairspray being in such close proximity to your mouth and nose. The aerosols also contain small particles that can trigger inflammation of the airways. This is more likely to trigger asthma in poorly ventilated rooms where there are multiple asthma triggers present. 

How to avoid aerosols triggering asthma

If you notice that your asthma symptoms flare up directly after using an aerosol spray, then it's a good idea to find ways to minimise your exposure to them. Some alternatives include using a roll-on antiperspirant or a fragrance that you apply directly to the skin rather than in spray form. Try using slow-release air freshener instead of an aerosol spray to avoid clogging up the air in the bathroom. 

If you find that you are using your blue Ventolin inhaler more than twice a week, see your doctor as soon as possible for a review. This is a sign that your asthma is not well managed and you need to be using a daily preventer inhaler. Your doctor will be able to prescribe the most suitable one for you. 

View all asthma treatments

Sources: 

Get Asthma Help> Indoor Air Quality
NHS Inform> Asthma
 

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