What can trigger an asthma attack?

A man suffering from flu. The common cold, flu and sinusitis are major triggers. Photo/FILE

What you need to know:

  • Most common culprits are things that we come into contact with in the house on a daily basis.
  • It is, therefore, important to find out what could be triggering your asthmatic attacks and find out how to prevent attacks.

Asthma is a common problem in Kenya and can be a challenge to bring under control – especially in children.

It is, therefore, important to find out what could be triggering your asthmatic attacks and find out how to prevent attacks.


This is a particular concern for those living in urban areas where pollution levels are high.

The pollution is mainly from cars and factories. In the rural areas, a common pollutant is smoke from wood and charcoal fuel (the most common energy form used for cooking).


Tobacco smoke is a common trigger for asthma. This includes inhaling ‘second hand smoke’.

This occurs when someone around you smokes. You should, therefore, not let anyone smoke in your house, car or work environment.


Most people recognise that perfumes and colognes can trigger an asthmatic attack.

They, however, fail to realise that other fragrance sources like air fresheners, in some cases, scented body lotion, perfumed soap and even fabric softener can be a source of irritation.


Household cleaners, polishes and paints can contain chemicals which can trigger asthmatic attacks.

This is due to the presence of volatile organic compounds. Certain glues also have them. In such cases, opt for other non-irritating products and always work in well-ventilated places.


Furry animals are the main culprits. Birds can also pose a problem. This is particularly challenging if the pet stays indoors.

The trigger is usually dander (shed animal skin) and animal secretions like saliva and urine.

Cat allergen, in particular, can remain on furniture for many months. Ideally, if pets are aggravating your asthma, keep them outdoors. In addition, regularly clean your pet.


These are tiny insects found in mattresses, carpets, sofas and even stuffed toys. These are a particular problem and may cause asthma attacks at night, when one goes to bed.

It is, therefore, crucial that you regularly wash your beddings (preferably in hot water), sun dry the mattress and regularly change pillows.

Special mattress covers are available for this purpose as well. Carpets should be regularly washed and, in some cases, removed from the room altogether for airing.

This story first appeared in the Business Daily. CLICK HERE to read the full article