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Dealing With Triggers: Irritants

A variety of things in the environment can make asthma or allergy symptoms worse. These are called "triggers." Your doctor can help you figure out what your child's triggers are.

Irritants (also called pollutants) are a common trigger for many kids.

What Are Irritants?

Irritants are things that pollute the air. If they get inside your nose, they can cause irritation of the nose and lungs. Common irritants include:

  • perfumes
  • aerosol sprays
  • cleaning products
  • wood and tobacco smoke
  • paint or gas fumes
  • smog

How Can I Help My Child Deal With Them?

  • If household products (air fresheners, candles/incense, plug-in air fresheners, etc.) trigger your child's asthma/nose trouble, switch to unscented or non-aerosol versions.
  • Avoid strong odors from paint, perfume, hair spray, disinfectants, chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and glues.
  • Do not burn wood fires in fireplaces or wood stoves.
  • Keep your child away from areas where painting or carpentry work is being done.
  • If you cook on a gas stove, make sure your kitchen is well ventilated — to the outside, if possible.
  • Do not smoke (or allow others to smoke) in the house — even if your child isn't there, the smoke gets trapped in the upholstery and carpets. Avoid smoky places (like restaurants or parties).
  • Live Christmas trees can cause symptoms or make them worse in some kids. Get an artificial tree if they bother your child.

Reviewed by: Stephen F. Dinetz, MD
Date Reviewed: Jan 1, 2022

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