An asthma trigger is any environmental factor, behavior or irritant that causes the onset or worsening of asthma symptoms. Asthma triggers differ from person to person. Understanding your asthma triggers is the first step to managing them and limiting how disruptive asthma is in your daily life. Sometimes, the onset of symptoms can be delayed after exposure to a trigger. If this is the case, it can take some time to identify what all of your triggers are. If you have concerns or questions about your asthma triggers, our compassionate doctors are here to help guide you through the process of understanding them and the impact they can have.
If you have allergic asthma, any substance that triggers your allergies can also trigger your asthma. Common allergies that induce asthma include dust mites, cockroaches, pollen, mold, pet dander and rodents.
If you have non-allergic asthma, irritants like cigarette smoke, air pollution, wood fires, charcoal grills, chemicals, dust or strong odors from paint, gasoline or perfumes can trigger asthma symptoms.
There are other conditions which can contribute to or worsen your asthma symptoms. These include sleep apnea and gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), which can contribute to nocturnal asthma. Conditions like respiratory infections, the flu, obesity and pregnancy can also worsen your symptoms.
For some people, vigorous cardiovascular exercise can cause the onset of symptoms. Light exercise, like walking, usually is not a trigger.
Cold and dry weather can bring on asthma symptoms. Some people will experience thunderstorm-induced asthma as well, which is most likely brought on by the increase in dust and irritants in the air.
Intense emotions like anger and fear can cause an asthma attack because of the way they can affect your breathing, even in people without asthma.
Aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs are linked to worsening asthma symptoms. Talk to your doctor about any prescription or over-the-counter medications you’re taking.
The most important step in avoiding asthma triggers is understanding them. Asthma manifests differently from individual to individual, so what works for one person might not work for another. Keep an asthma journal where you record any symptoms you experience. You also will note their duration and intensity, along with any possible triggers. Keeping an asthma journal can help you understand and identify all your possible triggers, even ones you didn’t suspect. If you find you’re having more symptoms than usual or you’re not able to identify what’s triggering them, make an appointment to see your doctor and bring your asthma journal with you to discuss.