The Most Common Asthma Triggers (and How to Avoid Them)

If you have asthma, it’s important to know what the most common triggers for asthma attacks are, so you can avoid them. While everyone’s asthma triggers are a little bit different, it’s generally agreed that certain irritants and environmental conditions are much more likely to bring on an asthma attack than others. This article lists nine of the most common asthma triggers.

Tobacco smoke

Tobacco smoke is a major lung irritant, and it’s one of the most common asthma attack triggers. If you smoke, protect yourself by quitting as soon as possible. If your friends and family members smoke, request that they not do so around you. Don’t feel bad about refusing to spend time around people who are smoking – your health is too valuable to risk.

Pet allergies

You might love Fido, but if you find yourself sneezing and sniffling around your pets, be aware that it could trigger an asthma attack. Keep your furry friends out of your bedroom, and bathe them weekly (yes, even cats) to cut down on their shedding and dander. Frequent vacuuming and mopping can also help cut down on your pet-related sniffles.

Seasonal allergies

Pollen and other seasonal irritants can be a major trigger for asthma attacks. If you have seasonal allergies, keep an eye on the pollen levels and avoid going out when the pollen count is high. Avoid bringing pollen into your house by keeping doors and windows shut, leaving shoes by the door, and keeping your floors clean.


Most houses have mold somewhere in them, and if it gets into the air, it can irritate your airways and bring on an asthma attack. Be vigilant about getting rid of mold: keep your bathroom, kitchen, and laundry room dry, and be sure to scrub down surfaces like your bathtub and kitchen sink every few weeks.

Dust mites

Dust mites are microscopic creatures that live in most houses and feed on the dead skin that humans shed. For most people, these mites are harmless, although they might cause some allergy symptoms. If you have asthma, though, dust mites could trigger an attack. You can reduce the number of mites in your home by washing your bedding frequently in hot water, getting rid of carpet in your bedroom, and keeping the humidity level in your house low.

Air pollution

Common air pollutants like smoke and ozone can irritate your lungs. People with asthma should keep tabs on air pollution levels – your local weather forecast may include information about air quality. On days when the air quality is poor, avoid going outside if you can.


It’s common to find yourself breathing harder than usual when you work out, but if exercise makes you wheeze, you may have exercise-induced asthma. It’s a good idea to avoid high-intensity sports and cold-weather exercise if you have exercise-induced asthma, but you don’t have to give up physical activity entirely. Steady, low-intensity activities like hiking and cycling are less likely to trigger an asthma attack.

Temperature and humidity changes

Stepping from your warm house into cold, dry winter weather can trigger an asthma flare-up. Hot, muggy summer days can also irritate your lungs and cause an attack. Even thunderstorms can make asthma worse due to ozone in the air. If you’re prone to having weather-related asthma attacks, stay in a climate-controlled place like your house as much as you can.

Strong emotions

Strong emotions like stress, sadness, and anger can cause physiological changes that trigger an asthma attack. Even laughing can make asthma worse. While you obviously can’t shut down your emotions entirely (nor would you want to!), reduce your risk of having an asthma attack by finding ways to cope with strong feelings like stress and anger instead of letting them get the better of you.