Asthma is a chronic lung disease that inflames and narrows the airways.  Asthma causes recurring periods of wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and coughing.  In my prior post, I highlighted three common causes of asthma and I want to continue on this theme this week and draw attention to some of most common triggers for the estimated 300 million people living with asthma worldwide.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that can be found in every home.  Dust mites feed on flakes of human skin and are most often found in mattresses, pillows, carpets, upholstered furniture, bedcovers, clothes, stuffed toys and fabric and fabric-covered items.  Dust mites can trigger asthma for individuals with allergies and has been identified as a cause of asthma in children.


Cockroaches and other pests have been found to cause allergic reactions or trigger asthma attacks.  Although most commonly found in crowded U.S cities, cockroaches are a nationwide problem but common pest control measures have been found to be effective in reducing or eliminating the problem in homes and apartments.

Household Chemicals

Many common household products contain harsh chemical irritants.  Cleaners, pesticides, cosmetics, air fresheners, paints, candles can trigger asthma symptoms or exacerbate an allergic reaction.

Nitrogen Dioxide

Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) is an odorless gas that can form quickly from emissions from household appliances, such as gas stoves, kerosene heaters, wood stoves or emissions from cars, trucks and buses that can enter your home and irritate your eyes, nose and throat, cause shortness of breath and trigger respiratory issues, including asthma.

Outdoor Air Pollution

While we commonly think of outdoor pollution as a problem when we go outside, it also affects indoor air quality and outdoor air problems quickly become indoor air problems.  Each time we open the doors or windows to our house or water plants on porches and balconies, we are allowing outdoor air into our home.  Pollutants like car exhaust, smoke, dust and pollen can worsen chronic respiratory conditions, such as asthma.  Outdoor air pollutants can cause headaches, dizziness,  shortness of breath and other symptoms, even when you are inside.

Wood Smoke

If you are using a wood-burning stove or fireplace in your home, you should be aware that the smoke contains a mixture of harmful gases and small particles that can cause asthma attacks, bronchitis and increase the likelihood of respiratory illness.