Avoiding Your Asthma Triggers

Avoiding or reducing exposure to asthma triggers is an important part of keeping your asthma under control

What Are Asthma Triggers?

Asthma triggers are things outside of the body that cause an asthma episode (attack). In other words, triggers can cause your airways to become swollen, tightened and stuffed up due to extra mucus. What causes an asthma episode in one person may not bother another person with asthma. So, the first step to preventing asthma episodes is to know your asthma triggers and find easy ways to avoid them.

How Can I Find Out What my Triggers Are?

  • Talk to your doctor. He or she will ask you about your environment and may suggest that you have a skin test for allergies.
  • When you have an asthma attack, write down where you were and what you were doing when it happened.

Common Triggers and How to Avoid Them

Pollen and Mildew

  • Use air conditioning in your home and car.
  • When pollen counts are high, try to stay indoors, with the windows closed.
  • Keep bathrooms, kitchen and basements dry and clean.
  • Avoid sources of mold, such as wet leaves and garden debris.

Dust Mites

  • Put airtight covers on mattresses and pillows.
  • Wash bedding, clothing and stuffed toys in hot water once a week.
  • Avoid using comforters and pillows filled with down or feathers.
  • Ask another family member to vacuum and stay out of rooms being vacuumed.
  • Use a special dust-controlling filter or bag for your vacuum.
  • Replace carpets with vinyl, tile, or wood flooring.


  • Remove feathered or furry pets from your home.
  • Do not allow pets in the room where you sleep.
  • Have your furry pets bathed every week.
  • Try to avoid households that have feathered or furry pets.
  • Ask your doctor what medicine to use before visiting homes or other places where animals are present.


  • Have your home sprayed with insecticide while you are out of the house. Air the home out for a few hours before returning.
  • Use roach traps to control roaches.
  • Keep your kitchen clean and free of uncovered food containers.

Tobacco and wood smoke

  • Do not smoke.
  • Do not allow smoking in your home or car. Ask friends and family to smoke outside.
  • Avoid using wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.

Strong odors and sprays

  • Avoid freshly painted places.
  • Do not use perfume, or perfumed products such as hair spray or room deodorizers.
  • Open windows and use exhaust fans to remove cooking smells.
  • Do not use strong household cleaners.

Colds and infections

  • Avoid people with colds or the flu.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water.
  • Get enough rest, eat a balanced diet, and exercise regularly.
  • Ask your provider if you should have flu shot.


  • Before starting an exercise program, work with your doctor to develop an asthma action plan that allows you to exercise without asthma symptoms.
  • Ask your doctor what medicine to use before exercising.
  • Warm up for 5 to 10 minutes before exercising and cool down for at least 10 minutes at the end of your workout.


  • Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose in cold weather.
  • When air pollution is high, try to stay indoors, with the windows closed.