Asthma Trigger Checklist

An asthma trigger is something that makes your asthma symptoms worse. Allergens, irritants, and other things may trigger your asthma. It's very important to find ways to stay away from your triggers. Check the box next to each of your triggers. After each trigger is a list of ways to stay away from it. Talk with your healthcare provider if you can't stay away from a trigger or if you have other questions.

checkbox Dust mites. Dust mites are common. They live in mattresses, bedding, carpets, curtains, and indoor dust.

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

  • 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.

  • Vacuum carpets every 2 to 3 days. If possible, use a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.

checkbox Animals. All 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 your furniture and bed, and out of your bedroom.

  • Wash your hands and clothes after handling pets.

  • Have someone else bathe your pets every week.

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

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

  • Run an exhaust fan while bathing. Or leave a window open in the bathroom, if it's safe to do so.

  • Repair water leaks in or around your home.

  • Have someone else cut grass, rake leaves, and do any other yard work, if possible. If you do the yard work, wear a mask.

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

checkbox  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.

  • Shower and change your clothes after being outside.

checkbox  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 and keep cabinets and floors clear of any food particles.

  • Use bait stations or traps to control roaches. Keep them away from children and pets. Don't use chemical sprays.

  • Repair places where roaches get into your home, or have a professional exterminator remove the roaches.

checkbox  Smoke. Smoke may be from cigarettes, cigars, pipes, e-cigarettes, leaf burning, campfires, incense or candles, barbecues or grills, and fireplaces.

  • Don’t smoke. This includes e-cigarettes. And don’t let people smoke in your home, in your car, or around you. Stay away from public places where smoking is allowed.

  • When you travel, ask for nonsmoking rental cars, hotel rooms, and seating areas in restaurants.

  • Stay away from 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.

  • Stay away from smoky outdoor cooking grills.

  • Stay away from secondhand smoke.

checkbox  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 days with a poor air quality index. If possible, use air conditioning instead of opening the windows.

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

  • Don't exercise close to a busy road.

checkbox  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.

  • Don't use 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 it's safe to do so.

  • Stay away from perfumes, air fresheners, potpourri, and other scented products.

checkbox  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 and it's safe to do so.

  • Use pump spray bottles instead of aerosols.

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

checkbox  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.

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

  • Scrub your hands often for at least 20 seconds with soap and clean, running water or use a hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol.

  • Get the COVID-19 vaccine, a yearly flu shot, and a pneumonia vaccine as instructed by your provider.

  • Avoid crowds of people, or wear a mask, especially if others are sick.

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

checkbox  Food additives. Rarely, food additives can trigger asthma flare-ups.

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

  • Don't eat foods that contain these additives.

checkbox  Medicine. Aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), such as ibuprofen and naproxen, and heart medicines, such as beta-blockers may be triggers.

  • Tell your healthcare 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. 

  • Ask the pharmacist or your healthcare provider for help selecting a safe product.

checkbox Emotions. Laughing, crying, stress, anger, 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. Breathe out slowly through your lips, like you are blowing out a candle, 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.

checkbox 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. Ask your provider if you should use medicine before exercising.

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

© 2000-2023 The StayWell Company, LLC. All rights reserved. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional's instructions.
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