Other, less common triggers include laughing, crying, and use of some medicines.
Kids can't avoid all triggers all the time. But watching carefully to learn what
those triggers are and then helping your child avoid them can keep asthma symptoms
What Are My Child's Asthma Triggers?
Triggers are different for each child. Some might cause asthma symptoms only at
particular times of the year. Others might stop being a trigger as a child gets older
and "outgrows" asthma.
You'll work with your doctor to find your child's triggers. The doctor may suggest
keeping an asthma diary
to record your child's symptoms, medicines,
and peak flow readings.
You can also write down when and where symptoms happened to help you identify possible
If your doctor thinks allergens are triggers, your child might need an allergy
How Can We Avoid Asthma Triggers?
If Allergens Are a Trigger
Allergens are one of the most common asthma triggers. They include:
(tiny flakes of dead skin), saliva (spit), or urine (pee) and feathers
It's impossible to avoid all allergens, but you can minimize them in your home.
Focus on the rooms where your child sleeps and plays:
Keep these areas as clean and dust-free as possible. Vacuum and dust weekly, eliminate
clutter, get rid of unneeded stuffed animals and wash other stuffed animals in hot
Wash sheets weekly in hot water and get rid of feather pillows
Use hypoallergenic covers for the mattress, box spring, and pillows.
Remove rugs and carpeting wherever possible.
Clean curtains (which should be washable) often.
Make sure damp areas like bathrooms, basements, and laundry rooms are cleaned
often and properly ventilated to prevent mold and mildew. Run dehumidifiers in damp
Don't use humidifiers.
Check your local mold and pollen count readings and plan indoor activities for
windy days, which can lead to high counts.
Use bait traps or professional extermination to rid your home of cockroaches.
Keep your kitchen clean and your house free of stacks of paper.
If Irritants (Pollutants) Are a Trigger
Irritants can affect anyone — even someone who doesn't have asthma. They're
not usually a serious problem, but for kids with asthma, they can lead to swollen
airways and flare-ups.
Common irritants include:
wood and tobacco smoke
paint or gas fumes
Here are some ways to reduce household irritants:
If a product triggers your child's asthma, switch to an unscented or non-aerosol
version of it.
Don't have wood fires in your home.
Keep your child away from areas where painting or carpentry work is being done.
If you cook on a gas stove, make sure your kitchen is well ventilated —
to the outside, if possible.
Forbid smoking in your home and car, and make sure your child avoids smoky environments
(like restaurants or parties).
Consider buying an air cleaner for your home or run the air conditioning year-round
(clean the filter regularly). Also check air quality reports. On days when the quality
is especially bad, keep your child indoors with the air conditioning on.
Respiratory infections, such as colds or the flu, can be hard to avoid. For kids
with asthma, breathing problems triggered by colds can last days or even weeks after
the cold has gone away.
Teach everyone in your family the importance
of hand washing. Kids 6 months and older should get the annual flu
vaccine. This is especially important for kids with asthma, who are at greater
risk for health problems if they get the flu.
If Extreme Weather Is a Trigger
Some weather conditions can trigger asthma flare-ups, including:
windy conditions (which may stir up pollens and molds)
heavy rain (which can make trees and grasses produce more pollen)
extreme cold or heat
humidity or very dry air
If weather conditions are a trigger, keep an eye on the forecast and limit your
child's time outdoors on problem days. If cold weather is a trigger, cover your child's
nose and mouth with a scarf. If hot, humid weather is a problem, keep your child in
an air-conditioned environment.
In some cases, your child's medicine dose may need to be increased.
If Exercise Is a Trigger
Exercise might be the only trigger for some kids with asthma. Along with allergens,
this is one of the more common triggers. It can be a particular problem in someone
whose asthma isn't well managed. But this is one trigger that your child should not
avoid because exercise is important for overall health.
Don't discourage being active or playing sports. Instead, talk with your doctor
about what your child should do before, during, and after exercise. This may include
taking medicine before working out or playing a sport.
If Reflux Is a Trigger
Gastroesophageal reflux is when the contents of the stomach flow backward into
the esophagus. Some kids also inhale these contents into the lungs, which can harm
airways and make asthma worse.
If reflux is a trigger, treating it can help your child's asthma symptoms.