Tips for Managing Common Asthma Triggers


If you have asthma, you probably know the feeling all too well: You're doing fine—and then you encounter something that sets off your symptoms. Suddenly, you're wheezing, short of breath, and reaching for your asthma inhaler.


Different people react to different asthma triggers. Below are several common triggers along with practical tips for reducing your exposure to them.

Allergic triggers


When you have allergies, the same substances that cause your allergy attacks may set off asthma symptoms as well. Examples of allergic triggers include:


  • Pollen and outdoor mold: Check the weather report for the pollen and mold count. When it's high, keep the windows of your home and car closed. Consider running the air conditioner, which helps clean the air. If you spend time outside, shower and change clothes as soon as you return indoors.
  • Dust mites: Encase pillows and mattresses in allergen-proof covers, and wash bedding in hot water every week. Vacuum carpets well. If you have children with asthma, wash their stuffed animals regularly.
  • Furry pets: Do you share your home with a dog or cat? Keep it out of your bedroom and vacuum frequently. If you have a small furry pet, such as a hamster or guinea pig, ask someone else to clean the cage.
  • Cockroaches: Cockroaches can infest even a clean home. To help keep them away, store food in airtight containers. Remove pet food dishes after your pet eats. Use a lidded garbage can.

Other triggers


Other things that may irritate your airways and trigger your asthma include:


  • Tobacco smoke: If you're a smoker, get help with quitting. To avoid secondhand smoke, make your home and car smoke-free zones, and ask people not to smoke around you.

  • Air pollution: Check the Air Quality Index for your area. Limit outdoor activities when the air quality is poor. Traffic-related pollution is particularly harmful for people with asthma, so avoid rush hour, if possible.

  • Wood smoke: If you use a fireplace or wood-burning stove, burn only dry, seasoned wood. Have your chimney cleaned or stove inspected every year by a certified professional.

Have a game plan


Unfortunately, you can't completely avoid every trigger. So, you should know what to do if your asthma symptoms start flaring up. For quick relief, your doctor may advise you to use an asthma rescue inhaler or another breathing treatment, such as a nebulizer. (Inhalers are small devices used to breathe medication straight into your lungs. Nebulizers are machines used to inhale medication in mist form.)


Ask your doctor for a written asthma action plan. It should outline the steps in your asthma treatment that help keep your symptoms from getting worse. That includes both knowing your triggers and taking any asthma medication you may need. Double-teaming asthma is the best way to guard against flare-ups.

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