Skip to Content

Asthma Triggers

Topic Overview

An asthma trigger is a factor that can lead to sudden difficulty breathing or other symptoms of asthma (asthma attack).

Some triggers are substances a person may be allergic to (allergens). Allergens cause the body's natural defenses (immune system) to produce chemicals called immunoglobulin E (IgE) antibodies. These chemicals bind to allergens, causinginflammationof the bronchial tubes, which carry air to the lungs. The allergen may also cause asthma attacks. These triggers include:

Other triggers can cause asthma symptoms without affecting the body's immune system. These include:

  • Cigarette smoke and air pollution.
  • Viral infections, such as colds and influenza, and sinus and other upper respiratory infections.
  • Exercise. Many people with asthma have symptoms when they exercise.
  • Dry, cold air.
  • Medicines, such as aspirin or beta-blockers.
  • In adults, hormones, including those involved in pregnancy and menstrual periods (just before or during periods).
  • Gastrointestinal reflux disease (GERD). GERD may make asthma worse for some people.

Health Tools

Health Tools help you make wise health decisions or take action to improve your health.

Actionsets are designed to help people take an active role in managing a health condition.

References

Other Works Consulted

  • Guarnieri M, Balmes JR (2014). Outdoor air pollution and asthma. Lancet, 383(9928): 1581-1592. DOI 10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60617-6. Accessed May 6, 2014.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerJohn Pope, MD, MPH - Pediatrics
E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerMary F. McNaughton-Collins, MD, MPH - Internal Medicine

Current as ofDecember 6, 2017

This information does not replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise, Incorporated disclaims any warranty or liability for your use of this information. Your use of this information means that you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Learn how we develop our content.

© 1995-2018 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.

Symptom Checker

Feeling under the weather?

Use our interactive symptom checker to evaluate your symptoms and determine appropriate action or treatment.

Symptom Checker

Decision Points

Our interactive Decision Points guide you through making key health decisions by combining medical information with your personal information.

You'll find Decision Points to help you answer questions about:

Interactive Tools

Get started learning more about your health!

Our Interactive Tools can help you make smart decisions for a healthier life. You'll find personal calculators and tools for health and fitness, lifestyle checkups, and pregnancy.