Know your asthma triggers

Reviewed by Theresa H. Care Delivery Manager & Family Nurse Practitioner

Time saver 3 min read

Breathing is something our bodies just know how to do. And most people don’t give a second thought to how they’re breathing, until there’s a problem. If you’ve been diagnosed with asthma, there are likely times when you notice it’s a little harder to breathe. Symptoms like mild shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing are all common asthma symptoms. When you have asthma, it’s important to understand how to manage your symptoms. And a big part of being able to manage mild to moderate asthma is to identify your asthma triggers.

What’s triggering your asthma?

An asthma trigger is something you come into contact with that causes the airways in your lungs to swell and narrow. When this happens, it becomes harder to breath. You may notice a mild tightness or constricted feeling in your chest that makes you cough and wheeze when you breathe in. If you have asthma, it’s important to figure out what things may be triggering your symptoms. While everyone is different, there are several common asthma triggers.

Common asthma triggers

  • Allergens – This includes common allergens like pollen, dust mites and pet dander.
  • Illnesses – Viruses like a cold or the flu can trigger asthma as well as conditions like a sinus infection.
  • Environmental irritants – Cigarette smoke or smoke from fires can trigger asthma. So can things like chemicals and air pollution.
  • Weather – Asthma may be triggered by hot and humid weather or dry and cold air. Sudden changes in the weather can also cause asthma to flare.
  • Physical activity – Exercising can cause airways to narrow and bring on asthma symptoms.

Seasonal allergies and asthma

If you were diagnosed with a type of asthma known as allergic asthma or allergy-induced asthma, you may joke that you’re allergic to spring. That’s because seasonal allergies are a common trigger for a lot of people who have asthma. In addition to watery eyes and a scratchy throat, if you have allergic asthma you may experience shortness of breath and coughing when exposed to allergens.

When your seasonal allergies and asthma flares go hand in hand, you’ll want to find ways to limit your exposure to allergens like pollen and mold. This means limiting the amount of time you spend outdoors when pollen counts are high. It also means avoiding activities that put you in direct contact with common allergens like grass – finally a legit excuse to get out of mowing the lawn!

Managing asthma symptoms

Once you identify the specific things that trigger your asthma, try to reduce your exposure to these things. Sure, you may love sitting around a campfire toasting marshmallows. But do you love spending the next day coughing and wheezing? Whenever possible, the best thing you can do for your body and lungs is to avoid known triggers.

But there will likely be times when it’s hard to avoid asthma triggers. You can’t control the weather or pollen count. You also may not be able to avoid getting a cold or the flu. Thankfully, if you have mild to moderate asthma, there are medications you can use to manage and reduce symptoms including a rescue albuterol inhaler.

If you’ve been prescribed an albuterol inhaler to manage your mild to moderate asthma, make sure you know how to use your medication and regularly refill it so you always have it on hand.

(Disclaimer) Notice that your asthma symptoms are getting worse? It’s a good idea to be seen in person. Call 911 if you experience symptoms like not being able to catch your breath or having trouble speaking.

Share this post

Do you know someone who could use a simple & affordable healthcare option?