Asthma Management Handbook
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Table. Summary of asthma triggers

Avoidable triggers

Unavoidable triggers

Always avoid

Do not avoid

Cigarette smoke



Avoid or reduce where possible


Allergens (if person is sensitised and relevant avoidance strategies are practical and shown to be effective)

  • Animal allergens (e.g. pets, animals in workplace)
  • Cockroaches
  • House dust mite
  • Moulds
  • Occupational allergens
  • Pollens

Airborne/environmental irritants

  • Cold/dry air
  • Fuel combustion (nitrogen dioxide-emitting gas heaters)
  • Home renovation materials
  • Household aerosols
  • Moulds (airborne endotoxins)
  • Occupational irritants
  • Outdoor industrial and traffic pollution
  • Perfumes/scents/incense
  • Smoke (any, including bushfires, vegetation reduction fires, indoor wood fires)
  • Thunderstorms in spring and early summer (grass pollen)

Certain medicines

  • Aspirin and NSAIDs (in patients with aspirin-exacerbated respiratory disease)
  • Beta blockers
  • Bee products (pollen, propolis, royal jelly)
  • Echinacea

Dietary triggers

  • Food chemicals/additives (if person is intolerant)
  • Thermal effects (e.g. cold drinks)

Respiratory tract infections

Certain medicines

  • Aspirin (when given for purpose of desensitisation)
  • Anticholinesterases and cholinergic agents

Comorbid medical conditions

  • Allergic rhinitis/rhinosinusitis
  • Gastro-oesophageal reflux disease
  • Nasal polyposis
  • Obesity
  • Upper airway dysfunction

Physiological and psychological changes

  • Extreme emotions
  • Hormonal changes (e.g. menstrual cycle)
  • Pregnancy
  • Sexual activity

† Requires close specialist supervision. If indicated for acute cardiac events, must be given under specialist supervision and started at low dose.

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