Triggers

  • A trigger is something that causes your airways to narrow, leading to asthma symptoms. Everyone’s asthma is different, and everyone has different triggers. For most people with asthma, triggers are only a problem when their asthma is not well-controlled.

    Will reducing exposure to triggers reduce my symptoms?

    For most people with asthma, triggers are only a problem when their asthma is not well-controlled. Research shows that for most people with well-controlled asthma, reducing exposure to triggers doesn’t reduce symptoms or reduce the risk of an asthma attack.

    To improve your asthma and reduce the risk of a severe attack, you need to treat the underlying airway inflammation with medication. This is the best way to reduce asthma symptoms and the risk of needing to go to hospital or dying from asthma. Treatment also reduces the chance that you will get any symptoms in response to something that previously triggered your sensitive airways.

    With appropriate treatment, most people do not need to change their lifestyle or environment just because they have asthma. However, it may be useful for you to identify triggers and reduce your exposure to them if:

    • you have troublesome asthma symptoms despite treatment, and/or
    • you need high doses of medication to keep your asthma symptoms under control

    Cigarette smoke is directly harmful to the airways and makes asthma worse, so exposure to cigarette smoke should be avoided by anyone who has asthma.

    Products for trigger reduction

    If you decide to try to reduce the triggers in your home, be aware that many products can be expensive and have not been proven to have any benefit for people with asthma. Some of these products also contain strong chemicals which can themselves trigger asthma symptoms. Go to our products page for more information.

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