Display Mode:

    Main content

    Health Information

    Asthma Triggers

    Asthma Triggers

    Skip to the navigation

    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, causing inflammation of 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.


    Other Works Consulted

    • Global Initiative for Asthma (GINA) (2014). Global Strategy for Asthma Management and Prevention. http://www.ginasthma.org/documents/4. Accessed May 21, 2014.
    • 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.


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

    Current as ofMay 23, 2016

    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. Learn how we develop our content.

    © 1995-2016 Healthwise, Incorporated. Healthwise, Healthwise for every health decision, and the Healthwise logo are trademarks of Healthwise, Incorporated.