Asthma Trigger Checklist

Allergens, irritants, and other things may trigger your asthma. Check the box next to each of your triggers. After each trigger is a list of ways to avoid it. 

Dust mites. Dust mites live in mattresses, bedding, carpets, curtains, and indoor dust.

  • To kill dust mites, wash bedding in hot water (130°F) each week.

  • Cover mattress and pillows with special dust-mite-proof cases.

  • Don’t use upholstered furniture like sofas or chairs in the bedroom.

  • Use allergy-proof filters for air conditioners and furnaces. Replace or clean them as instructed.

  • If you can, replace carpeting with wood or tile flooring, especially in the bedroom.

Animals. Animals with fur or feathers shed dander (allergens).

  • It’s best to choose a pet that doesn’t have fur or feathers, such as a fish or a reptile.

  • If you have pets, keep them off of your bed and out of your bedroom.

  • Wash your hands and clothes after handling pets.

  Mold. Mold grows in damp places, such as bathrooms, basements, and closets.

  • Ask someone to clean damp areas in your home every week. Or try wearing a face mask while you clean.

  • Run an exhaust fan while bathing. Or leave a window open in the bathroom.

  • Repair water leaks in or around your home.

  • Have someone else cut grass or rake leaves, if possible.

  • Don’t use vaporizers or humidifiers. They encourage mold growth.

  Pollen. Pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds is a common allergen. (Flower pollens are generally not a problem).

  • Try to learn what types of pollen affect you most. Pollen levels vary depending on the plant, the season, and the time of day.

  • If possible, use air conditioning instead of opening the windows in your home or car.

  • Have someone else do yard work, if possible.

  Cockroaches. Roaches are found in many homes and produce allergens.

  • Keep your kitchen clean and dry. A leaky faucet or drain can attract roaches.

  • Remove garbage from your home daily.

  • Store food in tightly sealed containers. Wash dishes as soon as they are used.

  • Use bait stations or traps to control roaches. Avoid using chemical sprays.

  Smoke. Smoke may be from cigarettes, cigars, pipes, incense or candles, barbecues or grills, and fireplaces.

  • Don’t smoke. And don’t let people smoke in your home or car.

  • When you travel, ask for nonsmoking rental cars and hotel rooms.

  • Avoid fireplaces and wood stoves. If you can’t, sit away from them. Make sure the smoke is directed outside.

  • Don’t burn incense or use candles.

  • Move away from smoky outdoor cooking grills.

  Smog.  Smog is from car exhaust and other pollution.

  • Read or listen to local air-quality reports. These let you know when air quality is poor.

  • Stay indoors as much as you can on smoggy days. If possible, use air conditioning instead of opening the windows.

  • In your car, set air conditioning to recirculate air, so less pollution gets in.

  Strong odors. These include air fresheners, deodorizers, and cleaning products; perfume, deodorant, and other beauty products; incense and candles; and insect sprays and other sprays.

  • Use scent-free products like deodorant or body lotion.

  • Avoid using cleaning products with bleach and ammonia. Make your own cleaning solution with white vinegar, baking soda, or mild dish soap.

  • Use exhaust fans while cooking. Or open a window, if possible. 

  • Avoid perfumes, air fresheners, potpourri, and other scented products.

  Other irritants. These include dust, aerosol sprays, and powders.

  • Wear a face mask while doing tasks like sanding, dusting, sweeping, and yard work. Open doors and windows if working indoors.

  • Use pump spray bottles instead of aerosols.

  • Pour liquid cleaners onto a rag or cloth instead of spraying them.

  Weather. Weather conditions can trigger symptoms or make them worse.

  • Watch for very high or low temperatures, very humid conditions, or a lot of wind, as these conditions can make symptoms worse.

  • Limit outdoor activity during the type of weather that affects you.

  • Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose in cold weather.

  Colds, flu, and sinus infections. Upper respiratory infections can trigger asthma.

  • Wash your hands often with soap and warm water or use a hand sanitizer containing alcohol.

  • Get a yearly flu shot. And ask if you should get a pneumonia vaccine.

  • Take care of your general health. Get plenty of sleep. And eat a variety of healthy foods.

  Food additives. Food additives can trigger asthma flare-ups in some people.

  • Check food labels for sulfites or other similar ingredients. These are often found in foods such as wine, beer, and dried fruits.

  • Avoid foods that contain these additives.

  Medicine. Aspirin, NSAIDS like ibuprofen and naproxen, and heart medicines like beta-blockers may be triggers.

  • Tell your health care provider if you think certain medicines trigger symptoms. 

  • Be sure to read the labels on over-the-counter medicines. They may have ingredients that cause symptoms for you. 

, Emotions. Laughing, crying, or feeling excited are triggers for some people. 

  • To help you stay calm: Try breathing in slowly through your nose for a count of 2 seconds. Close your lips and breathe out for 4 seconds. Repeat.

  • Try to focus on a soothing image in your mind. This will help relax you and calm your breathing.

  • Remember to take your daily controller medicines. When you’re upset or under stress, it’s easy to forget.

  Exercise. For some people, exercise can trigger symptoms. Don’t let this keep you from being active. 

  • If you have not been exercising regularly, start slow and work up gradually.

  • Take all of your medicines as prescribed.

  • If you use quick-relief medicine, make sure you have it with you when you exercise.

  • Stop if you have any symptoms. Make sure you talk with your provider about these symptoms.