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reviewed 7/16/2018

Asthma triggers: True or false?

If you have asthma, it's important to know what triggers your symptoms—and how to avoid those triggers. An asthma trigger could be something you're allergic to or something that irritates your airways. It could also be an activity or a health condition. How much do you know about asthma triggers?

True or false: Most people with asthma have the same triggers.

False. Your triggers might be completely different than those of someone else with asthma. Keeping a diary could help you and your doctor identify your triggers. Every time you have an asthma attack, write down what you were doing and where you were. Your doctor also might suggest allergy testing to help identify possible triggers.

True or false: Knowing the air quality forecast could help you avoid an asthma attack.

True. That's because air pollution is a common asthma trigger. By paying attention to air quality forecasts, you can plan outdoor exercise and other activities for times when the air pollution levels are low.

True or false: A dog or cat's fur can be an allergic trigger.

False. If you wheeze around dogs or cats, it's not the fur that's the problem. However, it might be the animal's dander. Dander refers to tiny flecks of skin shed by animals with fur or feathers. Other possible allergic triggers from animals include proteins found in their saliva, urine and feces.

True or false: You may be able to reduce asthma attacks with a thorough kitchen cleaning.

True. Cockroaches and their droppings are a common allergic trigger. To get rid of them—or prevent their arrival—keep your kitchen clean of food crumbs and water sources that may attract them. And store your garbage outside.

True or false: Acid reflux can trigger asthma symptoms.

True. If you have acid reflux, it could be worsening your asthma. Acid reflux occurs when stomach acid flows back up the esophagus. The acid irritates and inflames the esophagus, which shares nerves with the lungs. If you have gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD)—a chronic form of acid reflux—controlling the symptoms could help control your asthma.

Identifying your triggers and learning how to avoid them is just one piece of an asthma control plan. Talk with your doctor about what else you can do to manage your condition.

Ways to take control

Sources: American Academy of Allergy; Asthma & Immunology; American Lung Association; Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America; Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

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