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Common Asthma Triggers: Irritants.

Common Asthma Triggers: Irritants

If you have asthma, an asthma attack can happen for various reasons. Much like individuals who have migraines, there are also asthma triggers. In the same context, everybody’s triggers can be very from one another. Simply because two people have asthma, does not mean that they will have the same triggers or that the same medications will help them.


Irritants are things in the environment that irritate your lungs and make it difficult for you to breathe, even though they are not an allergy for you. If your workplace contains airborne irritants such as chemicals, paints, or sawdust, your employer has an obligation to move you to an unaffected area for your health.

Chemicals & Sprays

Chemicals odors can be just as harsh so while using things such as indoor cleaners you need to make sure there is very good ventilation and/or wear a mask when it is possible.

It is best to avoid wearing heavy perfumes, especially if you are going to be indoors with poor ventilation. It is also helpful if those around you do the same. I had to ask an aunt to stop wearing White Diamonds perfume because it was overwhelmingly strong.


Any kind of smoke can be harsh on the lungs of an asthmatic. Due to this, it is important to remember when you go camping to keep the campfire away from the area where the tents are located. Also, if you are participating in a bonfire type outing to make sure there is seating area far enough away from the bonfire so that the smoke cannot reach where you are sitting. The same idea applies when attending backyard BBQs because you want to be out of the range of the smoke from the BBQ pit. Another option is to cook the food indoors and then bringing it outside if you are hosting the gathering. When it comes to choosing a restaurant, try to avoid places that allow people to smoke indoors or who have indoor grills which can submit you to similar smoke as a BBQ grill. If people are smoking cigarettes around you, try to move away from the direction that the smoke is going. My husband smokes outside instead of inside our home and he also pays attention to the direction that the smoke is blowing if we are sitting at an outdoor area so he makes sure the smoke is not blowing towards me.


If the temperature outdoors is either very hot or cold, it is important to dress appropriately. When you are exercising in the cold weather it is important to make sure to cover your nose and mouth. This helps+ reduce the amount of cold air that travels into your lungs. When the weather is very hot or very cold, try to have an alternative means to get to work instead of walking in the weather.

Air pollution is something that can trigger an asthma attack. Pollution can come from various sources such as factories, cars, fires, and many other sources. Pay attention to air quality forecasts on radio, television, weather applications on your phones, and the Internet to plan your activities for when air pollution levels will be low.


There are many environmental irritants that can aggravate an individual’s asthma. I know I definitely learned some of these the hard way when it came to doing things such as rebuilding my home and then trying to clean up after the areas that were rebuilt. We are not always warned about the things that can trigger an asthma attack, but it is important to take note when you notice the things that can affect your asthma.

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.


  • Shellzoo
    10 months ago

    Years ago, long before I found out I have asthma, there was a green kitchen cleaning product that would make me have trouble breathing. At work when housekeeping is cleaning a room and I walk by, sometimes the fumes from the cleaners make me cough until I can hardly speak. I think I am sensitive to several cleaners. Last winter, any cold blast of air outside would make me wheeze for a few days. I already am trying to figure out my plan for when it gets cold this year. Some triggers can be avoided but it seems like others you need to recognize and make a plan for when they trigger an asthma flare up. I need to buy a scarf to cover my face when outside so I don’t breath the cold winter air.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    10 months ago

    Hi Shellzoo and thanks for responding to this article by AWorkman. It sounds like you have a good understanding of triggers and how they relate to your specific condition. I think you have a good idea that should work too; namely – wrapping a clean scarf around your nose and mouth to shield your upper airway from cold blasts of air. That is a fairly common trigger that affects many folks with asthma. Keep up the good work! Leon (site moderator)

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