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Identifying, controlling asthma triggers

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. --  Find more information about asthma online at the Web sites for the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and the National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov). (Courtesy graphic)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Find more information about asthma online at the Web sites for the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and the National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov). (Courtesy graphic)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Your breathing becomes difficult; your chest tightens; you begin to wheeze when you breathe or cough. An estimated 20 million Americans live with asthma, and you are one of them. You recognize these symptoms as typical of your condition, and have learned ways to manage and control your reactions to them. But how can you prevent the symptoms from surfacing in the first place?

There are a variety of environmental and behavioral factors that can bring on asthma symptoms and ultimately lead to a full-blown asthma attack. Surprisingly, some of these foods or activities may otherwise be good for people. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention indicates that commonly reported asthma triggers include dried fruits, certain medications and exercise.

Other asthma triggers to consider are:

· Allergens, including animal dander, dust mites, cockroaches, pollen and mold
· Irritants, including cigarette smoke, air pollution, carbon dioxide, sudden weather changes, and particular scents and odors
· Seemingly unrelated medical issues, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, infections or influenza
· Intense emotional responses like "belly laughs," uncontrollable crying, and severe stress, shock or fear

This is by no means a complete list of triggers. Asthma sufferers are encouraged to meet with their doctor to help identify their unique asthma triggers and to discuss ways to avoid or control them.

Another resource available to eligible TRICARE West Region beneficiaries is the TriWest Condition (Disease) Management program, designed to help people learn to better manage their asthma. The Condition Management program is completely free and does not affect other TRICARE benefits in any way. For more information or to enroll, call 1-888-259-9378 or visit the Condition Management section of the Healthy Living portal at www.triwest.com.

You can also find more information about asthma online at the Web sites for the CDC (www.cdc.gov) and the National Institutes of Health (www.nih.gov).