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asthma triggers

People with asthma are not all bothered by the same triggers. Here are some common ones. Which ones bother you? Find out how to get rid of them so you can breath easier.

Having a cold

Having a cold makes it difficult for every one to breathe. If you have asthma, a cold can make your asthma worse. Avoid contact with anyone who has cold symptoms. Wash your hands regularly, and keep your hands away from your eyes, nose and mouth. Get your rest and be sure to eat and drink plenty of water. Your doctor may want you to get a flu shot. (They don't hurt.) If you have a cold, check with your doctor to see if using a vaporizer at night will help you breathe easier. Too much moisture can trigger your asthma, so be sure to allow the room to dry out during the day.

Pollen from plants

While they might be pretty to look at, flowers, trees and shrubs can touch-off a bout with asthma. Keep fresh flowers out of your home and bedroom. During peak pollen season (May, June, August and September), plan indoor activities as often as possible. You may pick up plant pollen just by being outside. If you have to play or work outside, remember to wear a hat and take a shower and wash your hair as soon as you go back inside to get rid of the pollen that aggravates your asthma. When traveling, drive with your windows closed and air conditioning on. 


Mold likes damp areas of your house such as basements, bathrooms, kitchens and windows that get wet in the winter. Wipe down window sills, bathroom sinks and tubs and other areas where mold grows using a cleaning solution of soap and five percent bleach. Use dehumidifiers to take the moisture out of rooms like the bedroom.  

Cold air

Breathing in cold air can irritate your airways. Be sure to protect yourself from the cold winter air by dressing warmly. Wear a hat on your head and use a scarf to cover your nose and mouth. The scarf will act as a filter and warm the air before it gets into your lungs.


Running and playing games

Being active, playing games and exercising is good for you. It keeps you healthy, and builds friendships and your muscles. Talk to your doctor about what activities are best for you. Follow his or her advice, and remember to take your medicine and have fun!


Furry pets

Pet dander (dead skin flakes) is found on every furry animal and can set-off your asthma. If your family is attached to your pet, and if having someone else adopt it isn't an option, you can: have another family member brush the pet outdoors or someplace where flying dander won't be a problem; have someone bathe the pet once a week to keep the dander down; and keep the pet out of rooms where you are often, for example your bedroom. You might consider getting a non-furry pet like a turtle, fish or snake instead.


Avoid piling books and other knick-knacks on shelves. They collect dust. It's easier to keep uncluttered surfaces clean, so try to keep things in drawers or closed cabinets. Avoid using the room where you sleep as a library or study.



Cigarette/Cigar smoking

People with asthma definitely should not smoke. But, even second-hand smoke from cigarettes and cigars can prompt an asthma attack. Do not allow smoking of any kind in your home or other places where you are often. Smoke tends to linger on clothes and furniture. Clean both as soon as possible after an encounter.

If you or someone in your home smokes and is having difficulty stopping, call Trinity Hospital at 1.800.3.ADVOCATE (1.800.323.8622) to find out more about its smoking cessation program.

Strong smells

Strong-smelling products like perfumes, paints, glue and cleaning supplies can aggravate your asthma. Avoid them as often as possible. Be sure any cleaning that requires these products is done when you are not around. Leaving windows open during cleaning and for a few hours afterward will help to get rid of the odors. If these products must be used for projects, purchase non-toxic supplies and follow the directions closely.


As often as necessary exterminate your home to control cockroaches and other bugs. Avoid bug sprays. Try gel baits that are easier to control. Have your home cleaned regularly to get rid of dead bugs, their droppings and house dust that mix together to irritate your asthma.

Dry climate

Dry air can aggravate your lungs and asthma. Use a humidifier to add moisture to the air you breath in your home. Be sure to control the humidity, because too much can trigger an attack. Work toward finding a balance.



Your emotions -- feelings like anger, fear and even excitement -- can set-off your asthma. It's often hard to feel the same all the time. When you feel your emotions changing, try one of these: take a deep breath and count to ten; talk to a friend or family member; go for a walk; or listen to soothing music.



Bedroom Triggers

Stuffed Animals

Stuffed animals are great dust and pet dander collectors. Keep them out of your room. If you are attached to a special stuffed animal, be sure to wash it in hot water regularly to get rid of asthma triggers and box up the rest. Or, place the stuffed animal in a sealed plastic bag and place it in the freezer for 24 hours to kill the dust mites. You might try decorating your room with posters or other non-dust collecting items instead.

Blankets and Comforters

Comforters made of natural materials such as cotton or comforters stuffed with animal feathers should be replaced with items made from synthetic fibers. You should also put them in an allergy-proof cover. Wash blankets once a week in hot water and dry in a hot drier to kill dust mites and remove their droppings which are the most common cause of asthma symptoms.

Feather Pillow

Pillows made of natural materials such as cotton or stuffed with animal feathers should be replaced with items made from synthetic fibers. You should keep them in allergy-proof pillow cases.


Wall-to-wall carpeting should be removed as much as possible because dust mites live there. Tile or wood floors are best in homes where people have asthma. Throw rugs can be used as long as they are washed regularly in hot water.


Drapes should be made of synthetic fibers if used at all. Blinds and window shades made of wood or plastic work best. Be sure to wash or vacuum them once a week to keep clean.  

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