We Asked, You Answered: Most Common Asthma Triggers
Recently we asked the Asthma.net Facebook community: Fill in the blank: My most common asthma trigger is _____________. And, boy did you respond! This question got 1,000 comments, making it one of our most popular questions ever asked of the community.
While your answers differed wildly, there were trends among the most common asthma triggers.
The animal kingdom may be a comfort to some, but people with asthma often experience flares when exposed to someone else’s furry friends. Cats were the animal mentioned most often, but others added:
Man-made smells, chemicals, and fumes
From diesel fumes and traffic exhaust to the smell of bleach, man-made smells and fumes are the worst for many of our followers. Here are some of the hundreds of asthma triggers reported:
- The 2nd hand smoke from the (smoke free!) apartment neighbors.
- Perfume, hand sanitizer, marijuana (I take public transportation.)
- Smoke, fragrances, air fresheners, those pine cones they use cinnamon on for Christmas.
- Certain perfumes (oddly, not all perfumes)
- Fragrance in lotion, soap, dryer sheets
- Any strong smells, even cooking smells
- Cigarette smoke, fragrances
- Cleaning agents
- New shower curtains, newspaper
One woman even mentioned the fountain at her local mall!
Many of you found the fumes from vaping to be one of your more common asthma triggers. In fact, many said that vaping was worse than other types of second-hand smoke.
- Vape fumes
- Those vape clouds can feel pretty caustic.
- The stuff from e-cigarettes seems to be even worse of a trigger than regular cigarette smoke.
But just to show how different asthma can be from one person to the next, one person reported, “Vape smoke doesn’t bother me at all, but tobacco smoke kills me.”
It seems that many workplaces have not yet received the memo that a fragrance-free environment is necessary to keep many employees healthy.
- At my last workplace they would spray room fragrance and it would have an instant effect on my asthma.
- I was a teacher and other teachers would spray room freshener constantly. It was horrible. I felt bad for the children who had to sit in those rooms for hours on end.
- I work in a fragrance-free place. Some employees continue wearing strong fragrances!!
- I am allergic to perfumes and laundry products. My last job had a no scent policy which they never enforced. I had to fight to breathe. I ended up in the ER 2 to 3 days a week for three months. They didn’t believe my asthma attacks were related to perfumes in the workplace.
Food, glorious food
Food may bring us comfort and nutrition when it’s not triggering an asthma attack. Some of the foods that cause asthma attacks in our respondents included:
- Sulfites in beer. I quit drinking beer and lowered my asthma medicine significantly. Instead of 2 cannisters of salbutamol every six weeks, I now take 4 a year.
- Wheat, pasta, sulfites, a lot of prepacked/processed foods, some take out/fast food
- Sulfites, carrageenan, instant mashed potatoes and many other foods
- Mine initially was triggered when I was a child by cloudy lemonade and really strong squash. (For the Americans in the room, these are sweet British non-alcoholic drinks.)
- Eating, though not all the time.
The natural world
Those all natural, yet pesky creatures, colds, viruses, and allergens, were named as common asthma triggers for our community. Other aspects of the natural world that cause our commenters problems included:
- Seasonal pollen
- Weather extremes like hurricanes
- Any type of weather change
- Grass, especially fresh cut
- Mold, mildew
Different aspects of daily life can trigger an asthma attack for many in our community. Stress and exercise were the most common asthma triggers that were mentioned. Even laughter and lack of sleep causes asthma attacks in a few people. Finally, everyone could relate to the person who named “Everything and anything” as his asthma triggers.
Learn how to cope with common asthma triggers
If you’d like to learn more about how to cope with your asthma triggers, try these articles:
- 5 Tips to Manage Your Triggers for Better Asthma Control
- Trigger Opt-Out
- Stress & Asthma — What’s the Connection?
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