Asthma triggers

Triggers are things that can cause asthma symptoms or make asthma worse. Triggers can be things like smoke, allergies, illness, or strong smells. Avoiding triggers can reduce the chance of an asthma attack and may decrease the need for more medicine.

Stay away from these asthma triggers to prevent symptoms:

Smoke: Do not smoke. It is bad for everyone. Even if you can only smell it, it is hurting your lungs.

  • Do not smoke inside or let others smoke in your house or car
  • Avoid secondhand smoke and ask family members to stop smoking
  • If you are a smoker, ask for help
  • Anything that burns can make smoke (examples- campfires, incense, candles and smudging) and can trigger an asthma attack
For more information on quitting smoking go to “Resources to Help You Quit.”

Colds and viruses: Colds can make asthma worse.

  • Follow your asthma action plan
  • Take asthma medicine
  • Wash hands often
  • Get a flu shot every year

Weather changes: Asthma symptoms may be worse if it gets really cold or really hot outside.

  • Cover nose and mouth with a scarf on cold days
  • Stay indoors in air conditioning on hot and humid days

Exercise/being active: It is important to be active even if you have asthma. You should be able to do all the things people your age can do. When asthma is in control you will be able to be more active. Being active can make symptoms worse.

  • Start activity slow, warm up for 10 minutes before activity
  • Talk to your provider or nurse about taking asthma medicine before activity. Taking medicine before activity can keep asthma symptoms away during exercise.
  • If you cannot be as active as you want or you are limiting your child’s activity talk to your doctor

Strong smells/sprays: Strong smells can make asthma worse.

  • Strong smells include: Sprays or liquids used for cleaning, deodorants, perfumes, hair sprays, paints and campfires
  • Open windows when using cleaning products, and stay out of the room for two hours
  • For more information on ways to limit strong smells when cleaning go to “Clean Green

Air pollution: Every day there are things outdoors that can make asthma worse.

  • Do not exercise outside on poor air quality days
  • Stay inside, look for air-conditioned places
  • Check air quality

Pollen: Comes from grass, trees and weeds. In the spring it can be trees, in the summer it can be grass, and in the fall ragweed, weeds and molds.

  • Try to keep windows closed and air conditioning on
  • Try to do outdoor activities in the afternoon, when the pollen counts are lower
  • Ask your doctor if you need to add or increase your medicine before the allergy season starts

Animal dander: All pets with fur or feathers make dander.

  • Dander is protein found in skin flakes, urine, poop, saliva and hair
  • The best thing to do is keep furry or feathered pets out of your home

Dust mites: Dust mites are found in many places and can make it hard to breathe.

  • Cover pillows, mattress and box springs in a special dust-proof cover
  • Wash all bedding weekly in hot water

Cockroaches: Dead cockroach bodies and droppings mix with house dust and can be inhaled.

  • Seal entry ways
  • Keep food in closed containers
  • Do not use roach bombs to kill the roaches; use roach motels instead

Mold: It grows in moist areas where lights are low. You can find it in the bathroom, basement, under sinks and in potted plants.

  • Clean moldy surfaces with a cleaner that has bleach in it
  • Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50%
  • Fix leaky sinks, pipes, tubs or toilets

Allergies: Allergy tests help find what may be causing allergy symptoms. Knowing what triggers an allergic reaction, can help avoid these triggers. Allergy tests are often done to evaluate.

  • Triggers for asthma patients
  • Environmental allergies, like hay fever