Common Asthma Triggers And How To Prevent Them

Common Asthma Triggers

Common Asthma Triggers

In this article, we will discuss common Asthma triggers and how to avoid them.

Asthma attacks are a sudden worsening of asthma symptoms. They can get scary for the patient, characterized by their chest tightening, difficulty in breathing, and extreme coughing. The attacks can be triggered by many aspects of daily life. It adds to the frightening nature of these attacks, along with the feeling of suffocation.

Taking note of what triggers asthma is the first step in preventing an asthma attack. The disorder is linked to allergies, where asthma is caused when the allergen enters the person’s airway. Hence the triggers can include common allergens, among other everyday factors.

Identifying an Asthma Attack

An asthma attack takes place when the body is exposed to an allergen or some other substance, causing the airways to become inflamed and swollen. These attacks are uncomfortable to experience and can be traumatizing, especially for children.

Someone may be experiencing an asthma attack if they show any of the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain and tightness
  • Severe wheezing when breathing in and out
  • Continuous coughing

The attack should go away after a few minutes with proper treatment, like using an inhaler. If untreated, these symptoms may worsen and become fatal. Immediate medical attention is needed if they are experiencing any of these signs, which are indicators of a severe asthma attack:

  • Tightened neck and chest muscles
  • Difficulty in talking or moving
  • Rapid and short breathing
  • Feelings of panic or anxiety
  • Blue fingernails or lips
  • Inhaler does not improve the symptoms

Asthma Triggers and How to Avoid them

Asthma triggers are irritants that cause an adverse reaction in the air passage. Constriction of the airways marks the start of an asthma attack and can cause other issues like wheezing. The triggers can be of various types, and what triggers an asthma attack for one person may not be the same for another. 

Stopping an asthma attack is easier when the trigger is identified. While using an inhaler would be the first step, using certain steps could lessen the duration and intensity of the asthma attack. Here are some common triggers and ways to avoid them:

Tobacco Smoke

  • Trigger:

Smoke emitting from cigarettes or any burning substances is an irritant that could easily cause inflammation. This leads to coughs and bronchospasm, which is when the air passages connecting the lungs contract and spasm, causing wheezing and making breathing difficult.

Second-hand tobacco smoke is one of the most common examples of smoke triggers. They also contain over 7000 chemicals which could further damage the airways.

  • Prevention:

Active smokers are encouraged to quit while staying away from other smokers. While staying far away from any smoking activity is a given, thirdhand smoke can also trigger the attacks. The chemicals can linger in the clothes exposed to smoke, and on other fabrics like curtains, carpets, and bedding. It is best to wash all of them, within one such exposure.


  • Trigger:

Along with smoke, several air-borne substances such as pollen can make asthma flare-up. Pollen is the most troublesome during spring or fall; but if the person comes in contact with flowers, weeds, and grass at any point, they increase the risks of an attack.

  • Prevention:

Avoid going outside during the peak pollen season, or during daytime when the plants bloom. Make proper use of an air conditioner, as it can reduce indoor air pollutants, including pollen. It would also lower the humidity in the room or house, lowering the risk of a flare-up.


  • Trigger:

Animals at home can be a common trigger for asthma. But contrary to popular belief, the cause is not their fur, but dander. Pet dander is the dead skin cells shed from their body, similar to humans.

It can be pesky as the particles are tiny and lightweight, thus being airborne for a long time. Moreover, proteins found in the pets’ saliva, feces, urine, fur, and skin can trigger asthma.

  • Prevention:

The best way to prevent this trigger would be to not have pets in the house. But many would consider it as the last option, so steps like keeping them away from the bedroom, off of furniture, and regular bathing would be necessary.

Dust Mites

  • Trigger:

Along with pollen, dust mites are another well-known trigger for asthma and allergies. Dust mites’ faeces and their decaying bodies contain the allergens. If exposed to this irritant, faecal particles could end up in the airways, causing the reaction.

Mites cannot be seen by the naked human eye. There could be thousands of them in each home, especially the places where most human skin cells are shed. These places could be bedding, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, and drapes or curtains.

  • Prevention:

While it is not possible to clean homes to be completely free of dust or dust mites, some simple preventive steps could lower their presence. They thrive in humid conditions and on soft surfaces. By using a humidity monitor, you can keep the levels below 50%, thus reducing their multiplication.

Washing all the fabric components at least once a week is a must. Hot water should be used, as it can kill the dust mites easily. Using hypoallergenic mattresses and pillow covers are also recommended.

Reducing the number of soft surfaces in the house would eliminate the mites’ habitats. Keeping carpets, excess pillows, heavy curtains, and stuffed animals are not recommended for asthmatic and allergic people.


  • Trigger:

Mold or mold spores are risky for people with mold allergies or asthma. Mold spores are the tiny seeds mold growth disperses in the air. They are multiple, widespread, and cause allergic reactions when inhaled.

  • Prevention:

Damp and humid areas of the house are more prone to growing mold and should be cleaned regularly. Bathrooms or areas near it are the most susceptible places. Cleaning products specifically meant for killing mold should be utilized.

When cleaning, asthma patients should wear a mask or respirator. The area should be kept well ventilated so that the chemicals in the cleaning items do not trigger an attack.

Other Conditions

Viruses, infections, and diseases affecting the lungs can also cause asthma attacks. These include colds, pneumonia, respiratory infections, and common flu. Acid reflux and sinus infections can cause asthma flare-ups, including some of the Asthma drugs used to treat them.

All of these require medical attention, where the doctor could recommend treatments that do not affect asthma inversely. Other non-medical triggers could involve perfumes, heavily scented items, stress, anxiety, and other strong emotions that can aggravate airways or trigger fast breathing.


Asthmatic people should be mindful of the symptoms and take note of what is causing them. An allergist could run allergy tests to help in figuring out the reason behind the allergy and what triggers them. This would equip them to handle all possible triggers before they overwhelm the body.