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Controlling Other Triggers

Many things can trigger symptoms in people with respiratory conditions like asthma or COPD. They may be allergens (mold, pollens, or dust) or irritants (smoke or strong odors). You may find there are things that trigger symptoms that aren’t allergens or irritants. These include weather changes, illness, and exercise. The following tips can help to lessen your symptoms.

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Certain weather conditions can trigger symptoms or worsen other triggers such as allergies.

Keep track of weather conditions that affect you. Very high, or low temperatures, or a lot of wind can worsen symptoms.

Limit outdoor activity during the type of weather that affects you.

 Wear a scarf over your mouth and nose in cold weather.


Colds, flu, and sinus infections

Illnesses that affect the nose, throat, and sinuses (upper respiratory infections) can irritate your lungs.

Wash your hands often with soap and warm water or use a hand sanitizer.

Get a yearly flu shot. And, talk to your health care provider about whether you should get pneumonia vaccines.

Take care of your general health. Get plenty of sleep. And, eat a healthy, balanced diet with lots of fruit and vegetables.

Food additives

Food additives can trigger asthma flare-ups in some people.

 Check food labels for “sulfites,” “metabisulfites,” and “sulfur dioxide.” These are often found in foods such as wine, beer, and dried fruits.

 Avoid foods that contain these additives.


Some medications may cause symptoms in some people with asthma. These include aspirin, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) such as ibuprofen and naproxen and some beta-blockers.

Tell your health care provider if you think certain medications trigger symptoms.

Make sure to read the labels on over-the-counter medicines. They may have ingredients that cause symptoms for you.



Laughing, crying, or feeling excited are triggers for some people.

Try this breathing exercise to stay calm: Start by breathing in slowly through your nose for a count of 2 seconds. Then close your lips and breathe out for a count of 4 seconds.

Try to focus on a soothing image in your mind. This will help relax you and calm your breathing.

Remember to take your daily controller medications. When you’re upset or under stress, it’s easy to forget.


For some people, exercise can trigger symptoms Don’t let this keep you from being active. As you know, exercise is good for your overall health. It also strengthens the heart and blood vessels and may reduce sensitivity to triggers. These tips and your health care provider's advice can help:

 If you have not been exercising regularly, start slow and work up gradually.

 Take all of your medications as prescribed.

 If you use quick-relief medication, make sure you have it with you when you exercise. 

 Stop if you have any symptoms. Make sure you talk with your health care provider about these symptoms.  


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