6 Typical Asthma Triggers & How to avoid them?

If you suffer from asthma, then you know that there are many things that can trigger off an asthma attack. Even simple things like as plant and tree pollen to secondhand smoke can prove to be a potential trigger for asthma patients. If you suffer from asthma, then you must work double time to reduce your exposure to potential asthma triggers. By asthma triggers, we refer to certain conditions, materials, or even activities which can worsen your asthma symptoms or even cause a flare-up of asthma.

However, with time and a little planning, it is possible to prevent exposure or at least reduce exposure to such triggers, thus lowering your risk of having an asthma attack or flare-up.

The most common asthma triggers are likely to include the following:

  • Environmental or air pollution
  • Allergies
  • A cold or flu
  • Cold air
  • Smoke
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Certain fragrances
  • Sinusitis.

6 Typical Asthma Triggers & How to avoid them?

6 Typical Asthma Triggers & How to avoid them?

  1. Environmental Triggers

    In most cases, triggers are found in the environment and all around us. Pollen, pollution, secondhand smoke, or even cigarette smoke, as well as fumes from vehicles, all act as potential triggers for an asthma attack or flare-up. Particularly during season change or during spring and fall, pollen becomes a cause of concern for those suffering from asthma or allergies. If you are aware that pollen triggers off your asthma, then it is recommended that you avoid staying outdoors during the times of the day when pollen is at its peak. While flowers, grasses, and even weeds all bloom throughout the year, the time period of spring and fall is when the maximum amount of pollen gets released into the air.

    You can also try using an indoor air purifier or even an air conditioner to reduce your exposure to environmental pollutants and allergens such as pollen. In fact, using an air conditioner also reduces the level of humidity in your room, thus lowering the risk of exposure to dust, dust mites, pollen, smoke, etc. Some air purifiers are also effective at capturing and removing pet dander, another potential trigger for an asthma flare-up.

  2. Cold Weather

    Some people may also have a flare-up in the cold weather. While there is really no way of avoiding going outdoors, you can try to keep your face and nose area covered up and avoid stepping outside during the early mornings and late nights, when the weather is particularly chilly.

  3. Smoke can be Harmful

    Don’t just assume that only fumes or smoke from vehicles and cigarette smoke can act as a trigger. There are many other types of smoke also that can trigger off an asthma flare-up. These may include fumes released from wood burning, kerosene stoves, gas, and of course exhaust fumes. Even space heaters and oil or gas furnaces produce nitrogen dioxide, which you won’t be able to smell or see, but it is enough to irritate your eyes, nose, throat, and thus lead to an asthma attack. So you need to ensure that if there are stoves being used in the house, they have to be vented to the outside. Gas stoves need an exhaust fan so that it can draw out the smoke to the outside while cooking. If you have a fireplace in the house, then before using, ensure that the flue is kept open and the smoke is able to go out of the chimney. Clean your heating system and have it inspected for leakage every year.

  4. Household Products

    Even household products used for cleaning, paints, perfumes, fragrant soaps, and even pesticides or insecticides can cause a problem for people who are prone to asthma attacks. So make sure that you stay away from any products that release a strong smell or strong chemicals into the air. These types of household products should be kept out of immediate reach and ensure that they are tightly closed. Choose soaps, shampoos and conditioners, and even detergents that are unscented. Opt for natural cleaners such as white vinegar or hydrogen peroxide.

  5. Pet Dander & Pet Allergies

    If you have a pet, then it is possible that your pet might be a potential asthma trigger. If you are allergic to pet dander, then it is possible that your asthma episode is getting triggered by your pet. In fact, apart from pet dander, even the proteins that are present in any animal feces, hair, urine, skin, and saliva, can act as asthma triggers. If you feel that you are allergic to your pet or an animal, then best solution to avoiding a flare-up is to avoid the animal completely. However, if it is a pet animal, it can be difficult to simply part ways with it. In this situation, you can try to keep the animal out of your own room, off the bed and other furniture, and outside if weather permits. Indoor pets also need to be bathed frequently to avoid spread of allergies. Also remember to wash your hands after touching your pet.

  6. Cockroaches

    It might surprise you to learn that even cockroaches can be a potential trigger for your asthma. Cockroaches and their droppings are known to trigger an asthma flare-up in many people. Therefore, if you have a cockroach problem in the house, then take the proper steps to eliminate the issue. Be sure to always keep everything covered in the kitchen, including water. You should also frequently clean the places where you see cockroaches roaming about. If there seems to be an infestation of cockroaches, then calling an exterminator for getting rid of them is a good solution.

How to Keep Track of your Triggers?

You can maintain an asthma diary for keeping track of your symptoms for at least 3 to 4 months. In this, you should write down all the emotional and environmental factors that tend to cause a flare-up of your asthma. Whenever you have an asthma attack, it is recommended that you refer back to your diary and see which factor might be responsible for the attached.

Though sometimes, the factor might not be obvious right away. This can include triggers such as cockroaches, mold in the house, etc.

If you feel that you are allergic to a certain substance or chemical, then you can always ask your asthma doctor about an allergy skin test. There are specific IgE tests that can be done to understand and determine which allergen you are sensitive to. You can then take the required measures to reduce your exposure to that allergen.

In case you suffer from exercise-induced asthma, then you must consult your doctor about the proper asthma treatment before you begin exercising. It is recommended that you avoid any strenuous exercises if you have exercise-induced asthma. Most often, the doctors recommend using a certain type of asthma inhaler before you begin exercising.


It is not always possible to avoid all the potential triggers as we cannot simply lock ourselves up inside the house. Dust is there everywhere, be it inside or outside the house. In such cases, your doctor is likely to suggest getting allergy shots to reduce your flare-ups and prevent an attack from happening. Although there is no way to cure asthma, you can control it to a great extent simply by avoiding the known triggers. You can always consult your doctor for more advice on how to tackle your asthma.

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:October 5, 2018

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