Asthma Triggers

Learn About These Asthma Triggers to Help You Avoid Them

People with asthma must be careful to avoid triggers that could lead to asthma attacks. By identifying asthma triggers, those who suffer from the inflammatory condition can actively avoid situations in which asthma attacks are more likely to occur.

Asthma Triggers

Four of the most common triggers for asthma attacks are allergies, dust, sports, and weather. Read more about each of these specific triggers below.


As many as 80% of people with asthma have these as an asthma trigger. Substances in the air such as animal dander, cockroach droppings, pollen, mites, and mold are the most common allergic triggers for people with asthma.

More rarely, asthma attacks can be triggered with allergens found in food. Allergic reactions can be triggered by the foods themselves or by additives used to preserve food. Common foods and food ingredients that trigger allergic reactions include:

  • Cow milk
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Potassium bisulfite
  • Potassium metabisulfite
  • Shellfish
  • Shrimp
  • Sodium bisulfate
  • Sodium sulfite
  • Soybeans
  • Tree nuts
  • Wheat

Although airborne allergies are rarely life-threatening, food allergies can be. If you think you or someone near you may be having an allergic reaction to something you/they ate, treat it as a medical emergency.

Some asthma patients may be good candidates for treatment with shots to help prevent the allergic reactions symptoms when the person encounters their allergen. Check with your health care provider to find out if preventative injections may be appropriate for you.


Irritants in the atmosphere, including dust, can also trigger an asthma attack, even if the asthma sufferer is not necessarily allergic to the particular substance. Other irritants that can trigger an asthma attack include cigarette smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves or fireplaces, vapors from cleaning products, perfume odors, and vapors and/or odors used in certain industrial occupations.


About 80% of asthma sufferers have what’s called exercise-induced asthma. This type of asthma can cause flare-ups when the patient engages in strenuous physical exercise. Symptoms of exercise-induced asthma include coughing, chest pain, having trouble breathing within 5 to 15 minutes of the beginning of a workout. To help prevent an attack of exercise-induced asthma, warm up slowly before engaging in any sports or aerobic activities.


Asthma attacks can be triggered by various changes in the weather as well as by atmospheric conditions themselves. Cold temperature extremes can trigger asthma attacks, as can excessive humidity. Some asthma sufferers also feel their symptoms worsening when hot conditions cause a layer of ozone, a type of air pollution, to hang in the air close to the ground.

It may be difficult to avoid asthma symptoms that are triggered by outdoor conditions. When possible, though, people who suffer from asthma should stay indoors as much as possible when conditions that trigger their asthma are in effect.

Remember, the reaction caused by exposure to one’s asthma trigger are not necessarily immediate. An asthma sufferer can have an attack hours, days, or even weeks after exposure to the trigger.