Pollen, thunderstorms, exercise, smoke: what are asthma triggers?

People with asthma have airways that are more sensitive to some things that may not impact other people without asthma.

The things that set off or start symptoms are called triggers. Every person with asthma has a different experience, and everyone may have a different trigger.

Common triggers include cold and flu, dust mites, smoke, exercise and pollen. Remember,  for most people with asthma, triggers are only a problem when asthma is not well-controlled with preventer medicine. See Living with asthma for help with this.

Triggers including exercise, sex and laughter should not be avoided by people with asthma, although you may need support from a health professional to help manage your asthma while exercising. Other triggers including pollen, dust mites and cigarette smoke can be managed by avoiding your exposure to them. 

Unfortunately, triggers like colds, flu, air quality and thunderstorms are impossible to avoid. This is why it is best to focus on getting your asthma under control with the right preventer medicine and always carrying your blue reliever with you in case you are exposed and react to a trigger. There are many products advertised to reduce asthma triggers, but most of these have not been proven to make any difference to asthma symptoms or reduce flare-ups. Asthma Australia strongly advises you do careful research on any products you are considering using. Call an Asthma Educator on 1800 ASTHMA or email to discuss specific products further. 

Asthma Australia has a clear position on product endorsement. Read about it here.

Taking your medication, having an Asthma Action Plan, knowing asthma first aid and regular check-ups with your GP are the most important steps you can take to improve your asthma control.

For more information on triggers, contact the 1800 ASTHMA Helpline or find out more about specific triggers below.

Hay Fever

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Bushfires and Smoke

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Colds and Flu

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Thunderstorm Asthma

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Flooding and Mould

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