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Asthma Triggers

Protect Your Child

Keeping your child away from triggers may keep him from having an asthma episode or attack. Don’t be afraid to ask adults not to smoke or wear perfume around your child. It’s part of keeping him healthy and safe.

Watch for Dander

photo of dog and cat to show example of an asthma trigger

Pet dander can be a trigger for many children with asthma.

Does your child start to wheeze whenever he pets a dog? If this occurs, then pet dander, the dust from furry animals, is one of his asthma triggers. A trigger is anything that bothers your child’s lungs and makes his asthma symptoms worse.

Triggers come in many forms.

An asthma trigger can be a substance, like perfume. It can be an allergy, such as hay fever. It can be a situation, such as something that causes your child to feel stressed or angry. It varies from person to person, but everyone with asthma has at least one trigger.

Triggers can be dangerous.

They can bring on an asthma episode, or attack, and that can be life-threatening. It’s important to keep your child away from asthma triggers as much as possible.

Triggers vary, but there are some common ones.

Some triggers that frequently induce asthma symptoms are:

  • Being sick with a cold or flu
  • Smoke from cigarettes or pipes
  • Smoke from wood burning stoves or campfires
  • Dust mites in house dust, bedding, stuffed animals, carpeting, or upholstered furniture
  • Pet dander—the dust in the fur of furry or feathered animals
  • Pollen in trees, grass, weeds, or flowers
  • Outdoor and indoor air pollution
  • Strong odors from paint or cleaning products, perfumes, air fresheners, or candles
  • Mold
  • Changes in the weather, especially extreme heat or cold
  • Stress and other strong feelings, such as anger, excitement, and sadness
  • Exercise or physical activity
  • Some foods

Triggers can be avoided.

You want your child to be happy and healthy, and that means keeping her away from asthma triggers! First, you need to know what your child’s triggers are and—more than that—what you can do to help her stay away from them. There are often some low-cost or no-cost solutions. Let’s say your child is sensitive to dust mites, for example. You might take some ordinary prevention measures like washing her bedding every week in hot water to reduce her exposure to dust mite allergens. If smoke is a trigger—and you smoke—you should make a plan to quit or at least make sure you don’t smoke around your child. Also, you should ask adults not to smoke around your child.

If you don’t know what your child’s triggers are, talk with your health care provider. He can help you figure out what makes your child’s asthma worse. Together you can make a plan to help your child avoid or limit her exposure to asthma triggers.

Asthma Triggers
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Learn how controlling triggers can reduce your child’s asthma symptoms.

Asthma Action Plan
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Use this convenient form to help manage your child’s asthma.

Medicine Quiz
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Take this quiz to get answers about your child's asthma medicines.