Asthma Home > Asthma Triggers

Common triggers of asthma include cigarette smoke, dust mites, pet dander, and cockroaches; however, triggers vary from person to person and can include a wide variety of things. It's important to avoid your personal triggers as much as possible, as well as to avoid exposing people with asthma to possible triggers.

What Triggers Asthma?

People with asthma have airways that are very sensitive to certain allergens or other stimuli. There are several things that can set off, or "trigger," a person's asthma (or worsen existing symptoms). These triggers vary from one person to another.
Some common asthma triggers include:
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Waste products from dust mites
  • Animal dander (from the skin, hair, or feathers of animals)
  • Pollen from trees and grass
  • Mold (indoor and outdoor)
  • Air pollution
  • Infections, such as colds and the flu
  • Exercise
  • Strong feelings or stress
  • Changes in weather or cold air
  • Strong odors from painting or cooking
  • Scented products
  • Certain medicines and foods.
This is not a complete list of all the things that trigger asthma. People may have trouble with one or more of these items. Everyone is different.

Suggestions for Avoiding Asthma Triggers

The sections that follow describe common asthma triggers and things you can do to avoid them. For more information, talk to your doctor.
Environmental Tobacco Smoke (Secondhand Smoke)
Parents, friends, and relatives of children with asthma should try to stop smoking. Until they can successfully quit, they should only smoke outdoors, not in the home or in the family car. They should not allow others to smoke in the home, and they should make sure that the child's school is smoke-free.
Dust Mites
Mattress covers and pillow case covers provide a barrier between house dust mites and the person with asthma. Down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters should not be used, and stuffed animals and clutter should be removed from bedrooms.
Written by/reviewed by:
Last reviewed by: Arthur Schoenstadt, MD
Last updated/reviewed:
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