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Creating Asthma Friendly Environments

What is an Asthma Trigger?

Asthma triggers are things in the environment that cause, provoke or aggravate asthma symptoms (e.g., coughing, wheezing, difficulty breathing).

Common triggers include:

  • viral infections (e.g., colds/flu), which cause up to 90 percent of asthma attacks in children
  • tobacco smoke
  • air pollution
  • physical activity
  • extremes in weather
  • allergies (e.g., animals, pollen, mould, dust, dust mites)
  • strong odours (e.g., paints, permanent markers, perfumes, cleaning products, glue)

Not all people with asthma share the same triggers. Each person with asthma has his or her own set of triggers and will not always respond to them in the same way after an exposure. Sometimes not all triggers are known to the individual.

Children and youth with asthma, and/or their parents/guardians should alert the school/program leaders/coaches to their asthma triggers.  Because asthma triggers can change, and new ones can be identified, communication among families and staff is crucial. Eliminating or reducing exposures to the person's specific triggers can reduce the chances of an asthma attack as well as the need for medication.