Asthma triggers

Some people are much more likely than others to develop allergies, such as asthma, hayfever and eczema. Certain ‘triggers’, such as pollens, household cleaners or pets, can cause an allergic response.

What can trigger asthma?

Many things can make asthma worse. Keep a list of your triggers when you discover them, and discuss them with your GP or asthma nurse. Asthma UK cites the main asthma triggers as:

Animal proteins, such as house dust mites, animal hair and cat saliva. Read more about pet hygiene if you have asthma.

  • Pollens, including trees and grass.
  • Mould spores, which are released from trees at the end of the year, or in damp housing.
  • Smoking.
  • Weather and changes in temperature.
  • Viral infections. A cold, the flu or other respiratory infections can make asthma worse.
  • Emotions. Negative emotions can act as a trigger, possibly for the same reason that exercise is a trigger. Your respiratory rate (the rate of breathing) increases, which means that you take in more air.
  • Hormones. A small number of women with asthma find that changes in their hormone levels can be a trigger. This may be worse before menstruation.
  • Medicines. In a few people, asthma is triggered by medicines that contain salicylates, such as ibuprofen and some other anti-inflammatory drugs. It may also be triggered by beta-blockers, a type of drug prescribed for some people with cardiac disease, anxiety, hypertension, angina and glaucoma. If you have asthma, be cautious of taking ibuprofen (which may be sold by the brand name, Nurofen) or beta-blockers. Your GP or asthma nurse may be able to suggest an alternative.
  • Traffic fumes.
  • Household cleaners and sprays can have an irritant effect, which can trigger asthma. Strong perfume can do the same.

Page last reviewed: 13/02/2012

Next review due: 13/02/2014


How helpful is this page?

Average rating

Based on 15 ratings

All ratings

Add your rating


The 4 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

steely said on 01 February 2012

I had asthma for approx 45 years when coincidentally
gutted the house - new curtains new beds , bedding, got rid of cloth suit replaced with leather, replaced carpets with solid floors result no asthma at all. I assume I emptied the house of house dust mite all at once and with solid floors and leather suit now they have nowhere to live. I used to take an inhaler at least twice a day . I haven't had a prescription for any now for about seven years.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

User118611 said on 14 February 2009

Using old-fashioned household cleaners, such as vinegar, borax, salt and hot soapy water keeps my attacks down.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Anonymous said on 08 June 2008

went to wash the pots at my parents house something in the liquid affected me.i.was scared.could not breath.only 2 nd attack in my life

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Tanya Kay said on 20 April 2008

They are all true, I have been affected by most of them. I have had asthma since birth.

Report this content as offensive or unsuitable

Services near you

Find addresses, phone numbers and websites for services near you


Weather and hay fever

How the weather and time of day can affect hay fever, and how to reduce your exposure to pollen

How clean is your home?

Home hygiene self-assessment

Find out if your home could be a health risk and why it's important to practise good home hygiene

Emotional health

Get tips on how to build your emotional resilience, cope with loss and overcome jealousy