Kidney health


Common asthma triggers include:

  • Irritants – tobacco smoke or air pollutants are a concern for most people with asthma
  • Allergens – things that you may be allergic to which can trigger a flare-up
  • Special conditions – having a cold or the flu, or being exposed to certain kinds of weather
  • Exercise – can trigger asthma, so talk to your doctor about ways to exercise safely

For more information on asthma triggers, visit the American Lung Association website at: (link opens in new window) .

What to do to control and manage triggers:

  • Use your peak flow meter regularly. It measures the speed of airflow in and out of your lungs and will help you to recognize early signs of an asthma attack.
  • Get tested for allergies. That way you can determine what you are allergic to, and watch out for those things. If you can't avoid them, you can at least be ready for them, which could help limit the potential for asthma attacks. If prescribed, make sure you are getting your allergy shots.
  • Get a flu shot. You should get one every year. A flu shot can reduce asthma-related problems that may show up when you get sick.
  • Create an asthma action plan. Work with your doctor to develop a plan that outlines triggers to watch out for and provides instructions on what to do when you're having a flare-up. Having a plan can help you to take charge of your asthma and help you to avoid emergency room visits. Remember to share your plan with family members, friends or caregivers. This plan will also help others know what to do if you or your loved one has an asthma attack.



  • Check air quality and pollen counts before going outside. And don't exercise outside when the air quality is poor. You can check the air quality in your area at (link opens in new window) .
  • Choose exercises that are less likely to cause an asthma flare. Good choices include walking, biking, or swimming.
  • Watch for outdoor triggers, like car fumes, mold, or wind.
  • Don't rake leaves. Ragweed and outdoor molds are found in dead leaves.
  • Get a flu shot. It's the best way to protect yourself from the flu.


  • Be aware of triggers when your child is playing outside. Check the air quality in your area at (link opens in new window) . If it's poor, plan indoor activities.
  • Change your child's clothes after he or she plays outside.
  • Bug spray can make your child's asthma worse. Try using natural lotions to keep bugs away.
  • Keep your child out of leaf piles. Ragweed and outdoor molds are found in dead leaves. These are common triggers for allergies this time of year.
  • Make sure your child gets a flu shot. It’s the best way to protect him or her from the flu. Washing your child's hands often can also help prevent colds and the flu.



  • Don't let anyone smoke inside your home.
  • Clean once a week. Wash your sheets, blankets, and other bedding in hot water and use a damp cloth to clean surfaces. Ask someone else to vacuum. Vacuuming can stir up allergies.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom and off the furniture.
  • If you have a fireplace, avoid wood fires.
  • Clean air ducts in your home. Change the filters in your furnace and air conditioning system often.
  • If you decorate for the holidays, clean all stored decorations before using them. They can pick up dust and mold while in storage.


  • Clean shower curtains, bath toys and the tub with soapy water. This can help get rid of mold.
  • If you have pets, keep them out of your child's bedroom and playroom. A pet's dander or saliva can trigger asthma symptoms.
  • Keep your home and car smoke-free. Smoke from a cigarette, cigar or pipe can cause a flare-up.
  • Wash sheets, bed spreads and other bedding often. This helps get rid of dust mites. These tiny bugs can hide in bedding and stuffed animals. Using a mattress cover on your child's bed can also help.
  • Don't use cleaners, candles, or lotions that have strong scents. Strong smells can bother your child's lungs.


  • Stay away from smoke, fumes, and vapors. These may bother your lungs.
  • Keep dust and clutter off your desk.
  • Be sure your work space has good air flow.
  • If you feel stressed, try taking slow, deep breaths.
  • Make sure someone at work knows about your asthma. Give that person emergency contact numbers in case you have a flare-up.

School (PDF)

  • Keep a list of triggers that make your child's asthma worse. Give a copy to school staff.
  • If your child uses a peak flow meter, make sure someone at school knows how it works.
  • Meet with your child's teachers and other school staff each school year. Make sure there's a plan in place in case your child has a flare-up.
  • Be sure school staff has a list of triggers that make your child's asthma worse.
  • Make sure your child's school has a copy of his or her action plan.
  • If your child takes medicine, be sure someone at school knows how to give medicine if your child can't do it alone.
  • Back to school checklist (PDF) (opens in new window) 


During an asthma attack, the airways swell and narrow. This makes it hard to breathe. Asthma is a lifelong problem, but it does not have to limit you. If you take charge of your asthma, you can lead a full and active life.

You and your doctor will make an asthma action plan (link opens in new window)  that outlines the two approaches to taking charge of asthma:

  • Controlling asthma over the long term. Daily controller medicine helps reduce the swelling of your airways and prevent attacks.
  • Treating attacks when they occur. The action plan will outline the steps to take and medicine to use to treat asthma attacks.

Using the asthma action plan also helps you keep track of your asthma and know how well your treatment is working.
If you or your child has been recently diagnosed, it may seem like there is a lot to remember. But the things you need to do to take charge of your asthma are really quite simple. With some practice, they will become part of your normal routine.

How to follow your asthma action plan

  • Take your daily medicines as prescribed. This can keep asthma under control and help you avoid asthma attacks.
  • Keep your treatment goals in mind. This may help you stay on your treatment.
  • Review your list of triggers. Avoiding triggers can help reduce the chance that you will have an asthma attack.
  • Asthma Action Plan (PDF) (link opens in new window) 

Check your peak flow

  • Use your peak flow meter. This is the best way to check how well your lungs are working, which is called lung function. Your lung function can get worse without causing symptoms.
  • Check your peak flow as often as your doctor tells you to. For many people this is twice a day, morning and evening.
  • If you have trouble using your meter, talk with your doctor.

Know your asthma zones

Each time you measure your peak flow, check your action plan to see what zone you are in. If your peak flow drops below 80% of your personal best measurement (link opens in new window) , follow your action plan. To figure out what 80% of your personal best measurement is, multiply your personal best measurement by 0.80. For example, if your personal best peak flow is 400, then 80% of that is 400 times 0.80, which is 320. To figure what 50% of your personal best peak flow is, multiply your personal best measurement by 0.50.

  • Green means Go. You are in the green zone (link opens in new window)  if your peak flow is 80% to 100% of your personal best measurement. This is where you want to be. Keep taking your daily asthma medicines as prescribed.
  • Yellow means Caution. You are in the yellow zone (link opens in new window)  if your peak flow is 50% to 79% of your personal best measurement. You may not have any symptoms, but your lung function is reduced. When symptoms are present, you may cough, wheeze, or feel short of breath. Or your asthma may limit your activities or wake you up at night. You should take action. Your action plan will tell you what medicines you need to take, how much to take, and when to take them. If you keep going into the yellow zone from the green zone, talk with your doctor. You may need a different medicine or the dose of your medicine may need to be increased.
  • Red means DANGER. You are in the red zone (link opens in new window)  if your peak flow is less than 50% of your personal best measurement. You may be very short of breath. Or the quick-relief medicines may not have worked. This is dangerous. Take the actions listed in your action plan. You may need to go to the emergency room or be admitted to the hospital.

Use your asthma diary

  • Write down your peak flow readings in the asthma diary.
  • If you have an attack, write down what caused it (if you know), the symptoms, and what medicine you took.