How to Control Asthma Triggers



Hidden Asthma Triggers

Nov 3, 2011
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A common pain reliever—or a glass of wine—could bring on an asthma attack, two studies suggest. 

The first study looked at the effect of acetaminophen on 1,574 people, 664 of whom had asthma. (Acetaminophen is an active ingredient contained in Tylenol and other non-aspirin pain relievers.) Researchers found that the more acetaminophen that people with asthma took, the more often they woke up at night with symptoms and the worse their reported quality of life. 

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The reason: Acetaminophen may deplete an essential antioxidant in the lungs called glutathione, says lead study author Seif Shaheen, MD, PhD, researcher and senior lecturer at Guy's, King's and St. Thomas' School of Medicine, King's College, London.

The second study, in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, examined the effect of food and drink on 336 asthmatics. Researchers found that one-third believed that alcohol—especially red or white wine—made symptoms worse. Evidence suggests that sulfite preservatives, histamines, or salicylates may be responsible, rather than the alcohol itself, says lead study author Hassan Vally, research scientist at the Asthma and Allergy Research Institute, Inc., in Nedlands, Western Australia.

These commonsense steps could reduce your risk of another asthma attack:

Minimize. Asthmatics who take acetaminophen often (every day or several times weekly) should consider cutting back, says Dr. Shaheen. So should those who drink alcoholic beverages.

Be vigilant. Take your asthma meds, and avoid irritating triggers such as dust, pollen, and cigarette smoke that may make your lungs more susceptible to the effects of wine, Vally says.

Try switching. While one type of wine or other alcoholic beverage might trigger an attack, you may be safe drinking another type on occasion, Vally notes.






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