What are your asthma triggers

i was wonder what are some of your Astma triggers? Me: cold/virus,smells(hairspray,candle,perfume,etc.) laughing, exercise(running) CATS,mold, if i injest an allergic food, Cold freezing air


Comments 103

  • Shea

    Cat and dog dander: direct contact is very severe (asthma attack, hives, worse prognosis for life-threatening allergic disease called Churg-Strauss SYndrome which has in the past given me a heart attack from allergic eosiniphils surrounding my heart and choking it, it also causes vasculitis (blood vessel death), severe asthma, skin issues, and pretty much affacts all my vital organs), chronic exposure to indirect dander sources  (such as the amounts carried on other people and belongings) also makes my asthma worse, and makes me stuck on medications like prednisone, and get injections called Nucala, so I avoid places that cat and dogs reside in or frequent and do not allow people who own cats or dogs into my own home.  

  • Kathy P

    Mine are allergies and exercise. My worst allergy triggers are mold and cats, followed by seasonal pollens. 

  • Jen

    Hi @April B,

    Welcome to AAFA's support forums.  Glad to have you.  

    How do people avoid or minimize their triggers?

  • April B

    Controlling my triggers is pretty challenging with so many but I try my best to keep triggers to minimum in my home-  having hardwood floors and easy to clean and dust surfaces. Using non bleach based and non aerosol sprays.  I watch pollen levels in the news and adjust my exposure acccordingly.   

  • Megan Roberts

    Asthma triggers: Allergies (pollens, mold & dust mites mostly), exercise, cold air, high humidity, respiratory illness/cold virus.  I have an air purifier in my bedroom and a dehumidifier in the basement.  I avoid exercising in the cold/high humidity conditions.  And I am really careful to avoid contact with people with respiratory infections, which was very challenging in my old open-space office setup.  One person's cold would work its way through the entire staff!  People make fun of me for the lengths I take to avoid those who "just have a cold," but if you know it could impair your breathing for a month or more, why wouldn't you?

    I am trying to reduce my exposure indoors by following cleaning tips .  Also, there is some good info on

    I also monitor pollen/allergy alerts and make sure I'm medicating accordingly, especially during ragweed season.

  • Pljohns

    Cold air, strong smells (but not always the same ones), respiratory illnesses, humidity and weather changes.  I try to avoid strong smells but since it's rarely the same one consistently, that's hard to do.

  • MadE

    Megan, I hear you about being teased. At work I use a small oil diffuser on my desk I use lavender oil alternate with eucalyptus to keep the germs away(don’t know if it works makes me feel better) and no one uses my phone or keyboard.

  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, @April B … your triggers sound a lot like mine! Bleach is hard for me, but I have found that I can (on good days) tolerate it for cleaning as long as it is properly diluted in water. I'd moved to using bleach tabs in my laundry because it's quicker to toss a tablet in than pour out a cup of bleach!

    It's really hard to walk into a building that has just been cleaned with a strong cleaning solution — either bleach-based or even Pine-Sol. 

    What sort of cleaning/disinfecting non-bleach solutions do you use?

    Megan, ditto on the open office set-up — years ago, I worked in a set up like that, and unfortunately we all had little kids in school. That meant we were forevermore passing around what everyone else had. After I was diagnosed with asthma (which is when this happened), I went to GREAT lengths to avoid getting sick.

    Since I can't use Lysol (it triggers my asthma even worse than bleach), I've used rubbing alcohol in a spray bottle or hydrogen peroxide in a spray bottle to help knock back the germs in a pinch. And I washed my hands constantly and tried to avoid touching my face.

  • Megan Roberts

    @Pljohns what are some of the environments you find the hardest to manage in?  And what steps do you take before going there, not really knowing what you will be dealing with?  Before I worked at AAFA, at my old workplace we had a no fragrance policy and two people who were really triggered by fragrances.  I had a few office volunteers I had to really work with to get them out of the habit of wearing a lot of perfume– I had to send one in particular home a few times.  

    @MadE good idea with the diffuser (as long as no one around you is allergic to fragrances)!  I kept clorox wipes around and would wipe off common surfaces when someone got sick in the office (door knobs, refrigerator handle, bathroom keys).  We had a cleaning crew in the office daily but I'm SURE they didn't do that!  I also brought in my own dishware/utensils, as I think shared dishware was probably responsible for a lot of the germ sharing!

  • Pljohns

    Unfortunately we don't have a fragrance free policy but my service director has done everything he can to get rid of anything that has a smell in this place and tells all prospective employees that it is fragrance free.

    As for the others, if it's cold or a cold wind, I use a scarf but weather changes, right now, nothing.  I was trying albuterol once a day with weather changes as a pre-emptive thing and it seemed to help, but when I needed to go back to discuss with the pulmo, she had left the practice and I've not had anyone to move forward with it so far.

  • K8sMom2002
    Megan Roberts posted:

    I also brought in my own dishware/utensils, as I think shared dishware was probably responsible for a lot of the germ sharing!

    This was a genius idea! Did you keep them in your desk?

    Lynn, I use a scarf, too, when it's suddenly cold outside or we have long stretches of cold days. 

    I haven't talked to my doc yet about pre-treating for barometric pressure changes … I'm still in the "collecting data" stage. But it's been helpful at least to know that it MAY be a problem. 

  • Megan Roberts

    @K8sMom2002, yes, I did hoard them at my desk, along with my clorox wipes and some other cleaning stuff!  

    @Pljohns did your service director do that as a result of you bringing up how triggering fragrances are for you?  Or was that already in place?  Wondering because this question has come up elsewhere:  what do you do when you are triggered by a particular colleague's fragrance.  I think I would try to talk to the person directly if I felt it would be well-received, otherwise I would approach HR to have their help in solving the problem.

  • Pljohns

    My service director did that as a result of me bringing it up to him.  I didn't know until we hired someone who has exercise induced asthma and we were talking-he told her during her interview that there were NO fragrances at all allowed in the clinic-no soaps, body sprays, perfumes-nothing.  He didn't tell her why and once I told her, it made sense to her.  I really appreciate that he's heading it off BEFORE we hire people so they know going in that we are a no fragrance clinic.

  • Megan Roberts

    That is great that your service director has that foresight @Pljohns.  It's certainly a lot easier than changing people's behaviors without a pre-established policy to back it up.  If you are in a clinic setting it makes even MORE sense to have that rule, as well.  

    that allergies to fragrance can be considered disabilities covered by the ADA, the Americans with Disabilities Act, which means employers are actually required to try to come up with reasonable accommodations for them.  Such as working remotely, holding meetings by skype instead of face to face, altering work hours or adopting a fragrance-free policy.  Although in your case, it sounds like it is for the protection of patients as well as employees.  

  • Pljohns

    HR refused to put a fragrance free policy in place but my service director said that he most certainly could do it for this clinic-and he enforces it!

  • LK

    Hi!  I'm new here, but it is so comforting to hear how others are handling asthma!  I am a middle aged adult and only found out I have asthma about 5 years ago when my doctor gave me the Methacholine challenge test since I had been coughing for some time. The test triggered severe persistent asthma.  I have many triggers as it looks like several of us do. 

    My triggers are strong scents, dust – hay and shavings, car exhaust, especially diesel exhaust, cold air, aerosol sprays, and high humidity.  Sometimes I have no idea what sets off my asthma.  We have horses so the daily chores of feeding and grooming, while quite good for the horses and enjoyable for me, are challenging.  I try to wear a dust mask when working in the barn but that is hard in the hot humid summer and impossible when riding.

    My main symptom is coughing but sometimes it progresses to more serious symptoms.  Curious how others deal with these situations. 


  • K8sMom2002

    Welcome, LK! I'm triggered by a lot of the same things that you are, and it can be tough to avoid those triggers. It sounds like you have been thinking about ways to reduce your triggers — the mask, and so forth. Could you talk to your doctor about pre-treating before you go into the barn or out for a ride?

    On the subject of the ADA and fragrances … The question of workplace accommodation hinges on the word "reasonable," and I've learned from one attorney acquaintance that so far, the courts don't have a good consensus on what "reasonable" is. 

    I do know that employers and colleges don't have to be as accommodating as public elementary and high schools — I guess because education is compulsory, but you can choose where you work and go to college?? I didn't realize that until my DD started college. 

    Maybe ONE day the courts will come to an agreement on what is reasonable for employers to do to help folks with asthma and allergies? 

  • MadE

    Hi LK,

    i try as best as I can to avoid my triggers. Wearing the mask in the barn good idea. Hi so allergic to hay that if I touch someone who has hay on them I start up. So if you can change your clothing ASAP or wear a painter jumpsuit it may help. 

    Also I noticed some medication can make you cough like blood pressure medication. My brother had this constant cough and inhaler worked for a few minutes. Then we figured out it was his blood pressures meds. 

    Always read the side effects on meds, sometime it could take months after taking them that a side effect pops up and because you been on it a while you can’t figures it out.

  • Jen

    Hi LK,

    Welcome to AAFA.   I will ditto the suggestion to talk to your doctor about pretreating before working with the horses.

    MadE – Very good point about medication side effects!  What did your brother end up doing?

  • MadE

    He told his doctor he thinks his BP meds are giving him the cough and they changed his BP medication no more coughing.

  • LK

    Thank you all for being so supportive and offering helpful suggestions!  I have talked with my doctor and do pretreat before working with the horses.  It certainly helps but sometimes I still do quite a bit of coughing if it's dusty or strong odors are present. 

    That is a good point about other medications causing side effects.  I also have heartburn so am on a Rx for that.  Seems heartburn and asthma sometimes go together?

    Recovering from a respiratory infection which aggravated my asthma so am trying to figure out if I need to cut back on working with the horses even though I truly love it. 

    Thanks for listening! 

  • K8sMom2002

    Reflux has definitely been a trigger for some of our members' asthma, so it's good that you have a doc who thought about that! 

    I know it's a barn, but could you have someone mist everything down to help ease the levels of floating dust and hay? And … I know it's a barn, but what about an air purifier near your horse's stall to at least remove some of the pollen and dust? The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program might be a good place to start your research if you're interested in finding an air purifier. Quoting here:

    The asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification Program, administered by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) in partnership with the international research organization, Allergy Standards Limited (ASL), is an independent program created to scientifically test and identify consumer products that are more suitable for people with asthma and allergies. You can find certified products and services such as carpet cleaning, flooring, vacuums and more at 

    Also, after really big flares (and mine are like yours and get triggered often by upper respiratory infections), my lungs seem to be very twitchy for a while. It took me nearly a year to get back to baseline after a bout with pneumonia in the spring of 2016. So maybe you could figure out a way to temporarily cut down on your work with the horses and ease back into it?

  • LK

    Thank you for the suggestion of the air purifier.  Might be something for inside our house.  Unfortunately, there is so much air flow in a barn with the large aisle doors open and the breezes that it probably wouldn't help much.  The barn is good about keeping the environment as swept and clean as possible. 

    I had no idea it could take so long to recover from a flare up!  Your suggestion to ease back into it is something I will do!  It's hard on the ego to have to cut back on things!   'Patience is a virtue!'  Right? 

    Do you find that a flare up happens suddenly or is it something that worsens slowly?I'm still trying to figure out if I'm just not noticing my breathing is worsening or only noticing when it's quite bad. 

    I appreciate your thoughts!  I am still trying to figure this asthma out!  Guess it's a lifelong challenge!  Definitely keeps my eyes on my Lord!

    Thank you!

  • MadE


    do you have a peek flow meter? If you do use it everyday,I think there’s an app where you can log the results. First week do it 3x a day morning afternoon evening until you figure out what your norm is. Then you’ll see when your numbers are low you be able to adjust your meds. Also log the weather you maybe sensatitve to weather changes,I’m not but DS is.

  • LK

    Thank you for the suggestions!

    Yes, I do have a peak flow meter.  I used it when I was first diagnosed, just hadn't used it in quite awhile!  Guess I thought I could determine how I was doing without it.  Not so much!  

    Started using it again this afternoon after I found an app.  Funny you should mention an app!  The app and this respiratory illness made me realize that I have not been monitoring my breathing with the meter as I should.

    I know high humidity does bother me and your idea of monitoring the weather and keeping a log is a great idea!  Thank you! 

    I am not familiar with the abbreviations. What is DS?

  • MadE


    i like asthma md it’s free, and then asthma check- that’s like two bucks. There are ones for kids too wheezy something- cute for the younger kids.

    check them out, I am a bit OCD so I have both��

  • LK


    Yes, the AsthmaMD app is the one I am using.  Have only been using it for a few days, but it seems to be quite good! 

    I am a bit confused, though, about why even when my peak flow meter is in the normal range I am still wheezing and very tight in my chest.  Went to my pulmonary doctor yesterday again because I wasn't improving.  Started about a month ago with a respiratory infection.  My chest x-ray and breathing test at his office were normal but I felt very tight in my chest.  He listened to my chest and said it sounded normal.  ( Even when I am at my worst, several doctors have said my chest sounds normal.  Don't understand that.)  Will ask my doctor that at my follow up appointment.

    So I am on new meds and this morning my chest is much better!

    Question:  Does anyone else have this happen where your breathing test is OK and the doctor listens to your chest and it sounds Ok yet you know you are having trouble?

    My doctor is very good about listening to and observing the patient and adjusting medications.


  • MadE

    Mmm.. could it be in your throat/wind pipe but that wouldn’t explain the chest heaviness 

    maybe go see a cardiologist just to  rule that out too

    Acid reflux’s can do that to your chest and not have a burn.

    did they put you on a inhaild steroid 

    thats all my brain can think of. 

    Good luck feel better

  • K8sMom2002

    @LK, it's really frustrating, isn't it, when you can't breathe and your doctor can't pick up on anything while listening to your lungs? 

    Glad you're feeling better today — a respiratory infection can set you back and take you a while to get over it. I think it's a great idea to ask your doctor about why your lungs don't sound abnormal when you're feeling really bad. 

  • LK 


    @K8SMOM2002  Yes, it is frustrating.  Thank you!

    I will definitely ask my doctor about why my lungs sounded normal yet I was miserable. 

    I am on a prescription for my reflux.  I try to not eat anything within 3-4 hours of going to bed.  I've also tried raising the headboard of my bed up about 4-6 inches.  This seems to help with the reflux, too, but I have to remember how high up I am when getting out of bed!  Raising the headboard worked better for me than sleeping on many pillows – they just made my back hurt. 

    Thankfully the new medicine is improving my breathing immensely!  I don't think I have been able to breathe this well and deeply in many, many months. Still cough a lot and will ask my doctor about it.  I'm wondering if I had become accustomed to my breathing slowly getting worse.

    Hope everyone is doing well today!

    Thank you for the encouragement!



  • K8sMom2002

    Yay for breathing better! And yes, when my lungs are misbehaving, I find it better to have my head elevated … good tip about raising the head of your bed instead of just adding pillows.

    Do you use some sort of wedge under the mattress?

    And reflux is a definite asthma for trigger for some of our members. What other tips did your doctor give you about reflux?

    I think a lot of us have been like the story about the frog in steadily heating water … we don't realize how bad it is until we get some relief! I'm glad you are doing better!

  • LK

    Thank you! 

    That's a good analogy about the frog in heating water!  Made me smile!

    I use these blocks that are for raising a bed for added storage underneath for raising just the headboard.  Put one block underneath each of the two headboard legs. I'll try to add a picture of the block.  I think they are called Bed Stands or Bed Risers.


  • Jen

    @LK Since you mentioned things you do to help with reflux at night, I thought you might be interested in sharing some tips on our blog post about .  Sharing tips puts you in the running to win a Dyson air cleaner!

  • K8sMom2002

    @LK, has monitoring your asthma helped you?

    @MadE, what's the most useful info you've gotten from the apps? Is there one that does the job better than the others?

  • LK

    Yes, monitoring my asthma has definitely made me more aware of my triggers and symptoms.  Yet even when I'm coughing a lot and wheezing my readings on my peak flow meter are lower but not in the yellow zone, so still trying to understand the  correlation between the readings and how I'm doing.  When I use my rescue inhaler my readings improve and I breath better. 

    Will talk with my pulmonary doctor at my next appointment.

  • Alyson

    Hey everyone, I found it really hard to figure out what was causing my asthma to flare up but a friend recommended an app to me and it's really helped a lot. 

    It's easy to use and you just have to log what kind of symptoms you have for it to report back to you (which is great when you're busy and have kids!)

    Here's the link to it on the app store, it's called Sensio Air.

    Hope it helps


  • Jen

    Hi @Alyson,

    Welcome to AAFA's support forums.   Thanks for sharing that app.  Do you use it every day?

  • Alyson

    Hi @Jen, thanks for the welcome! Yes I do try to, even if my symptoms aren't an issue - there's an option that says "I'm feeling good" you can select. It's been very helpful so far



  • K8sMom2002

    I like that option! So does it give you a way to look back and compare the "I'm feeling good" days to the not-so-hot days? It would be encouraging to be able to look back and see an improving trend, you know?

  • Alyson

    Yeah I agree! I don't know if you can do that but you can get a personal report sent to you after you've logged a few times and that breaks down everything you've logged and when/why your symptoms pop up

  • K8sMom2002

    That sounds super, super helpful. I'm a great believer in figuring out patterns. Even the most random thing, after awhile, can sometimes reveal a pattern with enough "data points."

    How has this helped you manage your asthma?

  • Marie E Natzke

    My asthma triggers is sudden changes in the weather especially in the fall and when I come in contact with animals, and very hot humid days, and colds.  My allergy triggers are dusty areas high mold and pollen counts.  These allergy attacks do not set off my asthma.


  • K8sMom2002

    Hi, Marie and welcome! Sounds like you and I have the same sort of triggers when it comes to asthma — I have problems with sudden changes in weather. Animals don't usually trigger my asthma, but if I'm around hay — like around horses, cows, barns — that's almost an instant asthma attack. And colds and upper respiratory infections — not good for me at all!

    Do you get a and have you had your ? I need to get mine — this year, I've been delayed, but it's definitely on my to-do list!

  • Marie E Natzke

    I've had my flu shot but I've never been told to get a pneumonia shot at least not yet.  I'm currently battling a cold and was put on antibiotic for 10 days.  Next year I'm going to try not getting the flu shot and my allergy shots at the same time. I think it was too much for my system to handle. I live in Chicago and our weather has been crazy… I'm also battling psoriatic arthritis and I'm on a disease modifying drug and because of all this I got sick.  Not saying the flu shot made me sick but too much for the immune system to handle.  I do have a question for you or anyone else reading this.  Have any of you had a problem with a sinus infection that really doesn't completely go away.  I was told I have an infection that attacked the lining of the sinus. I have to do a saline sinus rinse 2 x a day and periodicaly need to use a antibiotic ointment to put in my nose to control it.  I don't know if I got this infection because of how the arthritis is affecting my immune system or if it is because of my allergies and the bad asthma attack I had in 2013 and how that is affecting my immune system.  I'm just curious if any one else has the same problem.  And if you do what do you do to control it.


  • Pljohns

    Welcome Marie!  Glad you have had a flu shot and I would ask your doctor about a pneumonia shot-I've had the pneumovax and prevnar 13 (a year apart so insurance would cover them) and also a 5 year booster on the pneumovax.  I was told by several doctors that people with respiratory chronic illnesses, like asthma, definitely need a pneumonia vaccine and a booster every 5 years for life.

  • K8sMom2002

    Marie, I didn't know I needed the pneumonia shot until after my latest bout with pneumonia in 2016. My primary care doc recommended that since I have asthma, I should get both shots. Like Lynn, I got one shot last year with my flu shot, and this year I'll get a second one.

    Sinus infections can be notoriously hard for a person with a good immune system to fight off. My DD had a sinus infection when she was 18 months old that lasted through at least six weeks of antibiotics. I was about ready to scream with frustration, because upper respiratory infections set off her asthma. 

    I can't imagine having to deal with a sinus infection while taking meds that make you more susceptible to infections … hugs!

    Who handles your asthma care? An allergist or a pulmonologist? Has either one suggested that you see an ENT? 

    Lynn, I didn't know I might need a booster shot on the pneumonia — but it makes sense! Thanks! I'll talk to my doc about it. 

  • Pljohns

    Marie-I got side tracked on the pneumonia vaccine and totally forgot about the sinus stuff.  Dh KEPT a sinus infection-seemed like he was on antibiotics for at least a week every month.  No joke-he was in the Dr. office at least every other month for over a year.  He finally had enough and insisted on going to an ENT.  They scoped his nose and found he was so infected that no amount of antibiotics was going to clear it out and he had an extra sinus cavity AND at some point his nose had been broken because his septum was deviated..

    They planned surgery just to sort of do a "roto rooter" clean out job and fix the extra cavity and fix his nose . His surgery  wasn't the "windows" sinus surgery that you hear about.  They ended up taking the extra sinus cavity and combining it with the one that was supposed to be there (had to remove a small piece of bone/cartilage) and fixing his nose. The doctor told me after the surgery that there was so much infection in there, antibiotics would have never gotten rid of it and that it couldn't drain properly because of the extra cavity so he would have never been infection free.  That particular doctor didn't believe in packing noses and by the next day when the swelling went down, DH was breathing so much better.

    He was pretty much out of commission as far as helping do anything for over a month (he went to work but couldn't bend or pick up anything) but that was 3 years ago and he has had NO sinus infections since and hasn't been on any antibiotics for anything.  He rinses his nose daily when he feels something coming on and if he gets a cold, he has steroids that he mixes with the saline rinse (oddly enough, its budesonide-just like I use in my neb) and he has had zero problems.  All of that to say, a trip to the ENT might not be a bad idea.