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Asthma Triggers That You May Not Expect

Change of season, dust, and pollen are all fairly common triggers to asthma. However there may be times when your asthma is flaring up and the trigger might not be as clear. Below we discuss some of the more uncommon asthma triggers.


Spring time brings an increase in nice weather and with it, an increased chance of thunderstorms. Electrical storms have been known to rupture pollen grains which then get spread around more due to gusty storm winds. You might find yourself with an irritated airway immediately after a thunderstorm ends.


Have you ever found yourself laughing or crying uncontrollably and then reaching for an inhaler? This is because strong emotions can cause a change in breathing patterns. This is a very similar response to what you would see during heavy exercise.


Stress can wreak havoc on you physically. Feeling overwhelmed or run down? This can cause your chest to tighten and for you to feel asthma-like symptoms. Panic attacks caused from stress can cause hyperventilation and a sudden tightening of airways.

Food Additives

Read food labels carefully. Certain food additives could cause asthma. Common additives to keep an eye on are sulfites, nitrites, monosodium glutamate (MSG) and food coloring.


Certain alcoholic drinks can cause asthma attacks. Particularly wine that contains sulfites, as discussed in the food additive bullet, can be a culprit.

Rush Hour Traffic

Fumes and pollution from cars can cause an asthma attack, so have your inhaler ready if stuck in traffic. Avoid pulling air from outside and instead try recirculating the air inside your vehicle. This can slightly reduce the fumes that are being pulled into your vehicle.

Air Fresheners

Air fresheners and other scented items, such as candles, can irritate sensitive airways. This can bring on the sudden onset of an asthma attack. Similarly, avoid paint that contains volatile organic compounds (VOC) as these can have a similar reaction as other scented items. Be aware of your surroundings as VOCs can also be found in many household and building materials.

While it is not likely that you would be able to avoid all items on this list, we hope that it will help you during your next attack and identifying what could be triggering it.

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