asthma triggers

The best way to look after your asthma is to follow these golden rules:

  • Get the best treatment you can and take it regularly
  • Try to avoid things that trigger your asthma

A trigger is anything that irritates the airways and brings on the symptoms of asthma. There are many different asthma triggers and they vary from person to person.

How to look after my asthma (asthma triggers)

These are some of the common triggers:

  • Colds, flu, and other viral infections
  • House dust mites
  • Cigarette smoking (active and passive)
  • Furry or feathery animals
  • Exercise
  • Pollen
  • Air pollutants
  • Weather
  • Mould
  • Emotion
  • Drugs
  • Hormones
  • Food
  • Work

Colds, flu and other viral infections

A recent survey put viral chest infections as the top trigger of asthma symptoms for both adults and children.

House dust mites

Many people with asthma are allergic to the droppings of the microscopic house dust mites found in our beds and other soft furnishings.

Cigarette smoking

This is significantly increasing breathlessness and coughing for people with asthma.

Furry or feathery animals

Fur, feathers and dander (shed flakes of dead skin) are common allergic triggers of asthma symptoms.


Exercise can make some people’s asthma worse, especially when outside on cold, dry days or after a change of weather.


Pollen can trigger asthma attacks in some people.

Air pollutants

These can include cigarette smoke, car fumes, paint fumes, perfumes and certain chemicals.


A sudden change in temperature, cold air, windy days, poor air quality (often on hot, humid days), thundery weather


Mould spores in wet weather, damp housing or piles of autumn leaves.


Emotional upset, stress, excitement, or even a long fit of laughing can trigger asthma symptoms.


Some drugs, including aspirin, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory tablets (e.g. ibuprofen) and beta-blockers (tablets and drops) used for heart disease and glaucoma, can lead to asthma attacks in a small number of people. Always tell your pharmacist that you have asthma.


Some women’s asthma varies before a period, during pregnancy or during the menopause.


Although rare, some people have an allergy to specific foods (e.g. dairy products, fish, nuts or yeast) that can bring on an asthma attack.


Occupational asthma mainly occurs in people who develop sensitivity to a chemical in the workplace.