Asthma Triggers

Asthma is a serious lung disease. When an asthma attack occurs, the breathing tubes constrict, making it difficult for the person to breathe. When asthma is not well controlled, it can cause many problems. One of the most effective ways to prevent an asthma attack is to identify your triggers and avoid them.


Type of Trigger
Description Prevention Strategies
Pollen Pollen counts are higher on windy days and during certain times of the year
  • Trees, grasses and weeds
  • Pollen in the air
  • Keep windows closed on windy days
  • Use air conditioning when possible
  • Do not hang laundry outside to dry
  • Common in dark damp places such as basements and bathrooms
  • Air conditioning or certain heating units can circulate mold if they are not cleaned properly
  • Keep humidity at 35% to 50%. Use a dehumidifier if needed
  • Do not use a humidifier
  • Remove houseplants from the bedroom
  • Keep bathrooms, kitchens and basements well aired
  • Avoid locating family room and bedrooms in basements
  • Keep shower area and curtain free of mildew
  • Clean moldy surfaces with a cleaner that has bleach in it
  • Fix leaky pipes and faucets to prevent mold and mildew
  • Animals shed small flakes of skin
  • It can also come from furniture carpets toys and bedding
  • Remove the animal from the home
  • Avoid visits to homes with pets
  • Close air ducts in the bedroom
  • Keep bedroom door closed
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
 Dust Mites
  •  Can be present anywhere there is house dust including furniture, decorations, toys, rugs and bedding
  • Encase bedding with special cases
  • Avoid sleeping on upholstered furniture
  • Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water (a temperature of 130 degrees is needed to kill dust mites)
  • Use a HEPA filter
  • Use a dehumidifier
  • Vacuum and dust with a wet rag once a week.
    • If you have asthma, try to get someone else to vacuum for you or use a dust mask
    • Stay out of the rooms while they are being vacuumed and for a short while afterward
    • Use a microfilter vacuum bag or a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter
  • First and second hand smoke from cigarettes and cigars can be triggers
  • Smoke can come from fireplaces, cigarettes, pipes, wood burners, campfires and candles
  • Avoid anything that emits smoke
  • Do not smoke or allow smoking in the home
  • Use a HEPA filter
  • Cold air and wind
  • High humidity
  • Air pollution
  • Cover nose and mouth on cold windy days
  • Use air conditioning on humid days
  • Watch weather reports and plan activities accordingly
 Viruses, Colds and Infections  
  • Wash hands frequently
  • Get a flu shot
  • Avoid people who are sick
  • Avoid places people frequently go when they are sick
Odors and Sprays 
  • Strong cleaning solutions
  • Perfumes
  • Aerosol sprays
  • Air Fresheners
  • Scented cand
  • Do not use room deodorizers
  • Use an exhaust fan in the kitchen
  • Use unscented products when they are available
 Other Triggers
  • Food Allergies
  • Emotions or stress
  • Exercise
  • Avoid specific foods, read labels for ingredients
  • Utilized stress management techniques
  • Follow exercised induced asthma prevention guidelines


For people with asthma, allergens and irritants can inflame already sensitive areas in the lungs. This can lead to spasms of the bronchial tubes causing an asthma attack.

As you can see from the lists above, triggers can be everywhere. The key to effectively managing asthma is to recognize your triggers and to take steps to avoid them. Take note of your surroundings at the time of a reaction and record them in a journal or simply write them down. Most likely this information will help reveal a pattern to the asthma episodes. Once you identify what triggers your asthma, you and your doctor can develop a plan to avoid these things. Although it may be impossible to eliminate all allergens and irritants from your home, you can minimize their number. Another source of information, as you purchase products is to look for products that are certified as “asthma friendly.”

Products that carry this certification have been scientifically tested and are suitable for people with asthma and allergies. It is present on air cleaners, bedding, cleaning products, floor coverings, stuffed toys, vacuum cleaners and washing machines. For more information on the web, go to

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