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Common Asthma Triggers


Triggers are anything that can cause your asthma symptoms to worsen. Avoiding your triggers will help keep your asthma under control. It is impossible to avoid everything, but the following ideas will help you avoid many common triggers. If you know your child has asthma triggers that are not mentioned here, talk with your doctor to help you develop a plan to manage them. Following are the four major categories of triggers.


Your allergist will help you identify allergens that trigger your child's asthma. These triggers may include household dust, pet dander, pollens, and molds. The allergist can help you come up with a plan to avoid or reduce these triggers.


Tobacco smoke 

  • Do not smoke. Children of parents who smoke develop more asthma and other lung problems.
  • Do not allow smoking in your home or car.
  • Ask household members who smoke to do so only outdoors.
  • Request non-smoking areas in restaurants and hotels/motels.

Learn more about the effects of passive (involuntary) smoking.

Wood smoke and fumes 

  • Avoid using a wood-burning stove or kerosene heater in your home.
  • Avoid or reduce the use of wood-burning fireplaces.

Strong odors and sprays 

  • Do not stay in your home while it is being painted. Allow enough time for paint to dry before moving back in (usually 24 hours).
  • Avoid using perfumes and perfumed cosmetics, powders, hair spray, and air fresheners and room deodorizers.
  • Use non-perfumed household cleaning products. Avoid harsh cleaners.
  • Use your range fan and open windows while cooking on stove tops, especially when frying foods.
  • Avoid air pollution by staying indoors when the pollution level is high.


Colds and Infections

Try to avoid exposure to people who are ill. Washing hands removes the virus effectively, do so before eating or touching your face or eyes. Teach children not to touch their mouths, nose, or eyes.

Mechanical triggers


  • If exercise is a regular trigger, use your reliever inhaler (Albuterol) 15 minutes prior to working out. Always keep your reliever inhaler with you.
  • Plan an exercise program with your doctor that allows you to exercise without symptoms.
  • Exercise is important, especially for asthmatics.
  • If you are allergic to outdoor pollen or mold, exercise indoors when the pollen or mold spore count is high, or so do later in the day.

Temperature changes 

  • In cold weather, breathe through your nose and keep your mouth covered with a scarf.
  • Exercise indoors during cold weather.

Extremes of emotion 

Be prepared with a reliever inhaler as laughing, screaming, or crying may cause coughing or wheezing.