Tips for Indoor Asthma Triggers

Last updated: March 2021

Over 24 million people in the United States live with asthma.  While there is no cure for asthma, it can be managed and treated so that those with asthma can live a normal, healthy life. With every season, changes in weather, the environment, and personal behavior patterns can bring new asthma triggers that cause asthma attacks or flare-ups. When it's cold outside and many are spending more time inside of their homes due to the weather, we should all create asthma-friendly environments in our homes for those living with asthma.

Common indoor asthma triggers

Animals in the home

With colder weather, all living things tend to stay inside, including our pets with fur and feathers. Reduce exposure to pet allergens by vacuuming and damp dusting weekly, and keep pets out of the bedroom or other rooms where you spend a lot of time.

Strong odors

Scents from perfumes, deodorants and cleaning supplies can affect a person with asthma, and closed windows just make those scents even stronger. Choose cleaning and personal care products that are odor and fragrance-free.


Staying active is important to everyone’s overall health and well-being, especially for those with asthma. Being cooped up indoors shouldn’t stop anyone from taking the stairs instead of the elevator, jumping on a treadmill for a brisk walk, or yoga in the living room. If exercise causes asthma symptoms, use quick-relief medicine 15 – 30 minutes before physical activity if prescribed.

Cold, flu & sinus infections

Getting a cold or the flu during winter is not uncommon, but for those with asthma, these respiratory illnesses can lead to asthma flare-ups. Frequent hand washing and avoiding those with symptoms are ways to reduce exposure, but the best way to prevent influenza is to get a flu vaccine every year.

Secondhand smoke

Secondhand smoke can be harmful to anyone with asthma and can travel through windows in any home.  But for those that live in multi-unit housing, such as an apartment, duplex or condo, secondhand smoke from someone else’s indoor smoking can trigger asthma. It can migrate from other units and common areas and travel through doorways, cracks in walls, electrical lines, plumbing, and ventilation systems. By advocating on behalf of all tenants, buildings can go smoke-free and save landlords time, energy and money in the long-run.

Learn more about asthma management

To learn more about asthma, or for a refresher course, take the American Lung Association’s free online learning course Asthma Basics.  In this self-paced learning tool, Asthma Basics cover asthma triggers and how to identify and reduce them, action plans when flare-ups do happen, how to respond to a breathing emergency, asthma medication tutorials, and an asthma management plan template.

More asthma information and resources can also be accessed through the Lung HelpLine at 1-800-LUNGUSA or online at

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This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

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