Triggers often bring on asthma attacks. A trigger is any thing or condition that causes inflammation in the airways, which then leads to asthma symptoms.

Your personal triggers can be very different from those of another person with asthma. But in every case, it’s important to avoid your triggers in order to keep airway inflammation to a minimum and reduce the symptoms.

About Inflammatory Triggers 
Inflammatory (allergic) triggers can cause inflammation of the lungs’ airways or tightening of the airways’ muscles. Inflammatory triggers include:

  • Dust mites
  • Animals
  • Cockroaches
  • Moulds
  • Pollens
  • Viral infections
  • Certain air pollutants

About Symptom Triggers
Symptom (non-allergic) triggers generally do not cause swelling, but they can provoke “twitchy” airways, especially if they’re already inflamed. Symptom triggers include:

  • Smoke
  • Exercise
  • Cold air
  • Chemical fumes and other strong-smelling substances like perfumes
  • Certain food additives like sulfites
  • Certain air pollutants
  • Intense emotions


Exposure to smoke of any kind, whether the source is tobacco, marijuana, forest fires or camp fires, can be harmful.

Everyone knows that smoking isn’t healthy. But when you have asthma, it can be even more dangerous. Tobacco smoke is frequently responsible for the onset of asthma symptoms and must be avoided.

Tobacco smoke, even secondhand, can trigger asthma symptoms. If you have asthma, do not allow any smoking in your home, your car or anywhere else where you spend a lot of time. As well, stay out of smoky places like bars and cafés. What’s more, children with asthma who are exposed to secondhand smoke are more likely to experience asthma attacks, and their symptoms are more likely to be severe. If you or your child has asthma and you smoke, talk to your doctor about how to quit.

If you do not smoke, recognize that secondhand smoke should be avoided at all times. If you do smoke, try to quit.

If you wish to quit, there are many options available to assist you. Talk to your doctor or asthma educator about how nicotine-replacement therapy, counseling and other treatments can help you butt out for good.

Marijuana smoke contains many of the same harmful chemicals as tobacco smoke. Long-term marijuana smoking has been associated with increased coughing, sputum (phlegm) production and wheezing. Smoking marijuana can make existing lung conditions worse. If you have asthma, marijuana smoke can cause an asthma attack leading to hospitalization or even death (American Thoracic Society).