Asthma Triggers | Patient Education | UC Davis Children's Hospital

An Introduction to

Asthma in Children and Teens

Asthma triggers

Help keep your child’s asthma symptoms from getting worse by knowing what things trigger your child’s asthma.

Discuss with your doctor other things that can make your child’s asthma worse.

Many different things (called triggers) can make your child’s asthma worse. It is important to learn your child’s triggers, so that they can be avoided.

asthma triggers chart

Asthma triggers can include:

  • Cold air
  • Certain foods
  • Molds
  • Pollution
  • Pollen
  • Pets
  • Infections
  • Dust mites
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Exercise
  • Medicines
  • Stress

Smoking (cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and vaping)

lungs with cigarettes
  • Do not smoke inside your house or car, even when a child is not present.
  • There are studies showing that children whose family members smoke only outside (and never inside) still have negative effects on their health. Toxins from smoking are carried in on dust, clothing, skin and hair.
  • If a member of your home smokes outside, have them change their clothes and wash their hands up to their elbows before interacting with your child.
  • Your medical team or primary care provider may be able to refer you or a family member to a program to help them quit smoking. If you are interested in this service, please let us know.
  • The effects of vaping and electronic e-cigarettes are not as well studied or understood as regular cigarettes. However, it is known that vaping inside may be dangerous for infants or young children. If you chose to vape, please do so outside.

Additional information about quitting smoking can be found at 1-800-NO-BUTTS or

UC Davis Health’s Quit Tobacco Classes and Resources

Colds and Infections

  • Encourage frequent hand washing to help prevent your child from catching a cold.
  • Make sure your child gets proper rest, eats a balanced diet and exercises regularly.
  • Talk to your child’s doctor about flu shots.

Sprays and Perfumes

  • Avoid use of household sprays/perfumes if it bothers your child.


  • If your child has asthma symptoms with exercise, give your child albuterol at least 15 minutes before exercising.
  • Have your child warm up before and cool down after exercising.


  • Examples: Pollens, animal dander, cockroaches, dust and molds.
  • There are tests to determine your child’s allergies.
  • If your child suffers from seasonal allergies, he or she will be at higher risk for asthma attacks during this time.