Common asthma triggers

Asthma triggers are materials, conditions, or activities that either worsen asthma symptoms or cause an asthma flare-up. Asthma triggers are common, which is precisely what makes them so troublesome.

In some cases, avoiding all of your asthma triggers can be difficult. However, with a little planning, you can learn to prevent exposure to your triggers and reduce your risk for an asthma flare-up or attack.

Triggers in the air

Exposure to pollen, air pollution, cigarette smoke, and fumes from burning vegetation can make your asthma flare up. Pollens are most troublesome during spring and fall, although flowers, weeds, and grasses bloom throughout the year. Avoid being outside during peak pollen times of day.

Use air conditioning if you have it. Air conditioning reduces indoor air pollutants, such as pollen, and it lowers the humidity in the room or house. This reduces your risk of exposure to dust mites and your risk of having a flare-up. Exposure to cold weather may also cause a flare-up in some people.

Feathered and furry friends can trigger asthma

Pets and animals, while adorable, can trigger an asthma episode in people who are allergic to them. Dander is one trigger, and all animals have it (some more than others).

Additionally, proteins found in an animal’s saliva, feces, urine, hair, and skin can trigger asthma. The best way to avoid a flare-up from these triggers is to avoid the animal altogether.

If you’re not ready to part ways with a beloved family pet, try keeping the animal out of your bedroom, off furniture, and outside most of the time if possible. Indoor pets should be bathed frequently.

Be a dust detective

Dust mites, a common allergen, love to hide out in places and rooms we frequent, including bedrooms, living rooms, and offices. Purchase dust-proof covers for your mattress, box spring, and sofa. Buy dust-proof pillow wraps that go between your pillow and your pillowcase. Wash linens on the hottest water setting.

Carpets and rugs are dust magnets, too. If you have carpeting in your home, it may be time to bid adieu and have hardwood floors put down instead.

Don’t be friendly to mold

Mold and mildew are two big asthma triggers. You can prevent flare-ups from these triggers by being aware of damp places in your kitchen, bath, basement, and around the yard. High humidity increases the risk for mold and mildew growth. Invest in a dehumidifier if humidity is a concern. Be sure to toss out any shower curtains, rugs, leaves, or firewood with mold or mildew.

Threats that crawl

Cockroaches aren’t just creepy; they can make you sick, too. These bugs and their droppings are a potential asthma trigger. If you discover a cockroach problem, take steps to eliminate them. Cover up, store, and remove open water and food containers. Vacuum, sweep, and mop any areas where you see cockroaches. Call an exterminator or use roach gels to reduce the number of bugs in your home. Don’t forget to inspect your home’s outside to see where bugs might be hiding.

Other conditions can cause asthma

Infections, viruses, and diseases that affect your lungs can trigger your asthma. Examples include colds, respiratory infections, pneumonia, and the flu. Sinus infections and acid reflux can also cause an asthma flare-up, as can some medicines.

Perfumes and heavily scented items can aggravate your airways. Stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions can also trigger fast breathing. This irritation in your airway or fast breathing can cause an asthma flare-up too. Additionally, food allergies may cause an asthma attack, especially if you have a history of having an anaphylactic reaction to a food allergen.

Avoid your triggers

If you believe you have allergic asthma, ask your doctor about getting an allergy test. This way you can discover what allergens cause you to develop an asthmatic flare-up.

Although you can’t cure asthma, you can control it. Work with your doctor to identify your asthma triggers. Avoid them whenever possible, and you’ll avoid flare-ups and feel better.

The one trigger you shouldn’t avoid

Exercise can be a common asthma trigger, but this is one trigger you shouldn’t avoid. Physical activity is important for your overall health, and it’s a risk worth taking.

Be wise about incorporating physical activity, exercise, and outdoor activities into your life. If exercise-induced asthma is a concern, talk with your doctor about medications that help prevent asthma flare-ups when you’re physically active.

When you can’t avoid triggers

Some triggers are so common that you can’t avoid them. Dust is a good example. People who are highly sensitive to dust will have a difficult time avoiding it.

In this case, your doctor may recommend allergy shots for you. Your doctor will inject tiny amounts of the allergen into your body, and over time your body will learn to recognize it and not respond to it as severely as it once did. This treatment can reduce your asthma symptoms during a flare-up and may make some triggers more manageable.