What Triggers Asthma?

Knowing (and avoiding) your asthma triggers is the key to better breathing 

Sanaz Majd, MD,
November 21, 2011

Avoiding things that trigger asthma is the first step in prevention. If you have asthma you should avoid the following:

  • Cigarettes – If you smoke and have asthma, please stop. A smoking asthmatic is like the guy who comes to my office and says: “Doc, it really hurts me when I hit my hand with this hammer. What should I do?”  Stop hitting yourself with a hammer. 

  • Second-Hand Smoke – Children of people who smoke are at increased risk of developing asthma and at increased risk of going to the hospital with it. Don’t hit your kid with a hammer either.

  • Allergens – For those who have asthma related to allergies, avoiding the allergen is the best strategy. If you are allergic to cats and have asthma, you probably should get rid of Fluffy. Dust mites and molds are common allergens and can be reduced by taking certain measures. Special air filters, like HEPA filters, can remove pollen from indoors and reduce asthma symptoms (although when you step outside, all bets are off). Allergy shots reduce allergy symptoms, but it isn’t clear if they help asthmatics.

  • Pollution – Cities with bad pollution problems have higher rates of asthma. If you live in such a place, pay attention to air quality reports.

  • Additionally, exercise can trigger asthma. But if a person has symptoms when they exercise, I don’t recommend avoiding exercise altogether. It’s really common for asthmatics to do this, but it shouldn’t happen. I don’t consider asthma under control unless a person has no limitations on activity. If asthma limits you, get treatment.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock

Related Tips