The Triggers

Newly diagnosed and don’t know what’s making you flare? Check this list of common triggers for some good starting points, and keep a journal of what you’re doing/eating/breathing each time you flare to figure out your own.

The key to the trigger journal is recognizing the landscape rather than getting hung up on the details. The patterns will tell you more than the one-time occurrences.


1. Tree pollen
2. Grass pollen
3. Weed pollen
4. Mold
5. Animal dander, especially from household cats and dogs
6. Dust mites
7. Cockroach droppings
8. Food (see more below)


1. Wind in the early fall or spring
2. Changes in barometric pressure
3. Changes in humidity
4. Extreme changes in temperature
5. Very cold and/or dry air

Airborne Irritants

1. Pollutants like industrial chemicals
2. High ozone levels in the summer
3. Air fresheners, especially citrus (natural and artificial) and eucalyptus scents
4. Commercial cleaning products including bleach
5. Paint
6. Varnish
7. Scented candles
8. Pesticides
9. Cigarette smoke
10. Smoke from woodburning fires
11. Perfume
12. Hairspray
13. Gases
14. Coal dust
15. Chalk dust
16. Talcum powder
17. New carpet and new car fumes


1. Colds
2. Sinus Infections
3. Bronchitis
4. Sore throats
5. Influenza
6. Pneumonia


1. Aspirin
2. Other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs)
3. Beta blockers

Emotions and Behaviors

1. Excessive laughing
2. Excessive crying
3. Excessive yelling
4. Excessive talking
5. Anxiety
6. Panic
7. Fatigue


1. Exercise
2. Overeating
3. Very hot or cold beverages
4. Foods that aren’t true food allergies–these include artificial sweeteners and flavorings, spicy foods, powdery/dry foods

Common and Suspected Food Triggers

1. Eggs

2. Peanuts and tree nuts

3. Soy

4. Fish

5. Milk and milk products

6. Shellfish

7. Seeds

8. Wheat

9. Citrus

10. Sulfite, a preservative found in

– Dried fruits and vegetables
– Packaged potatoes
– Wine, beer, and cider
– Bottled juices, especially citrus
– Shrimp
– Pickles and pickled foods

11. FD&C Yellow 5 (tartrazine), a food coloring found in

– Numerous packaged and convenience foods
– Most condiments
– Shampoo, lotions, and other personal care products

12. Sodium benzoate, a preservative found in

– Jams and jellies
– Salad dressings
– Soft drinks
– Soy sauce

13. Monosodium glutamate, a flavor enhancer found in

– Package soups and stocks
– Frozen dinners
– Fast food
– Some soy sauce, steak sauce, and worcestershire sauce

14. Aspartame sweetener

15. Salicylate, a compound found in

– Aspirin
– Skin-care products
– Pepto-Bismol

For more on the difference between food allergies and intolerances, please see the original post.

This list is not comprehensive. You or your child can easily have asthma triggers not listed here. These are simply some of the more common ones, culled from various asthma websites, my own child, and the readers of this blog.

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