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An older man clutches his chest and breathes into his inhaler as common triggers float around him.

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.

Animals

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:

  • Anyone that has been by horses
  • The worst of the worst for me are guinea pigs.
  • Most animal dander

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!

E-cigarettes

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.”

Workplaces

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
  • Humidity
  • Ragweed
  • Wind
  • Grass, especially fresh cut
  • Mold, mildew
  • Dust

Here’s another sign of how individual asthma can be: About half of those who mentioned weather named cold as their trigger while the other half said heat was a problem.

Life itself

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:

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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 Asthma.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

  • joanne
    7 days ago

    Any size cold, bronchitis, flu or sickness germ cause the worst reactions. It took me 9 months to be rid of the asthma symptoms triggered by a first time bronchitis. After that, I got a minor cold that went away easily, but the asthma symptoms did not. They took a year to go away!!

  • Lyn Harper, RRT moderator
    7 days ago

    I hear you, joanne! That’s a big one for many asthma sufferers. A year?? That’s a long time to put up with symptoms stemming from bronchitis. Thanks for joining the conversation.
    Best, Lyn (site moderator)

  • emusing
    2 weeks ago

    So interesting! With two exceptions, my flare ups are triggered by virus or infection.

  • Leon Lebowitz, RRT moderator
    2 weeks ago

    Hi emusing, and thanks for joining in this conversation. We appreciate you sharing your own triggers with the community. Wishing you well, Leon (site moderator)

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