Asthma symptoms occur when the immune system reacts strongly to something in the lungs — also known as an asthma trigger.1 These triggers are different for everyone but knowing your asthma triggers can help you avoid them.2,3 Whilst it’s not realistic to avoid all triggers,2 you should talk to your doctor to help identify your asthma triggers and ways to help manage them.


With proper treatment, people with asthma can still be active even if
exercise triggers their asthma symptoms1,4

Here are some of the most-common asthma triggers in Singapore and simple tips for managing them.2

Dust 2,5

Dust mites thrive in warm, humid
environments such as bedding, upholstered
furniture and carpeting.

  • Cover bed and pillows with allergen-proof fabric covers or airtight, zippered plastic covers when not in use
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water and dry in a hot dryer
  • Use allergen-proof covers for comforters and pillows that can’t be washed regularly
  • Use a dehumidifier to reduce humidity
  • Wash rugs regularly and remove wall-to-wall carpeting


Heavy rain (cold and wet weather),
hot weather and/or air conditioning can
worsen asthma symptoms.

  • Stay indoors during unfavourable weather
  • Avoid strenuous outdoor physically activity
    If your asthma is well controlled, there’s generally no need to avoid unfavourable weather.

Cold and flu2,6

Illnesses such as a cold and the flu
can aggravate asthma.

  • Get the flu vaccine every year or at least when vaccination of the general population is advised
  • Wash your hands regularly
  • Wear a face mask
  • Practise social/physical distancing

Emotional stress2,6

Strong emotions such as anxiety, anger, depression and even laughter can trigger asthma symptoms.

  • Identify goals and strategies for dealing with emotional stress
  • Practise relaxation and breathing exercises
  • Ask your doctor to arrange a mental-health assessment for anxiety or depression

Heavy traffic fumes2,6–8

Haze particles can affect the heart and lungs, especially those with asthma.

  • Check air quality on and follow any haze-related health messages issued
  • Avoid or minimise outdoor activity when the forecasted air quality is ‘unhealthy’
  • Consider an N95 mask if outdoors for several hours

If your asthma is well controlled
, there’s generally no need to avoid air pollution.

Citrus fruits2,6

Citrus fruits can trigger asthma symptoms if
you’re allergic or sensitive to them.

  • If you’re allergic to certain foods, avoiding them can help reduce asthma symptoms
  • If you’re sensitive to certain foods, focus on improving asthma control as avoiding them is usually unnecessary

Tobacco and incense smoke2,6,9

Tobacco smoke is unhealthy for everyone, especially people with asthma. Incense smoke can also trigger asthma symptoms.

  • If you’re a smoker, quit smoking – your doctor can help you with this
  • Avoid exposure to smoke at home or wherever you may spend a lot of time
  • Ask household members who smoke to quit


Allergies to furry pets (saliva, dander, urine)
can set off asthma symptoms.

  • Check what your allergies are with your doctor before getting a pet
  • Minimise contact and keep any pets out of the bedroom or rooms you spend a lot of time in
  • Vacuum carpets often or replace with hardwood, tile or linoleum
  • Ask a non-allergic family member to clean pet cages
  • Talk to your allergist for possible allergy shots

Other triggers can include perfumes, flowers/pollen, alcohol, heartburn, medications (like aspirin), chemical exposure at work, household pests (like cockroaches, flies, moths), bathing, fatigue, insufficient sleep, crowded places and overeating.2

  1. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Causes and triggers, 2022. Available at: Accessed November 2022.
  2. See KC, et al. Singapore Med J. 2016;57(10):561–565.
  3. CDC. You can control your asthma, 2022. Available at: Accessed November 2022.
  4. AAAAI. Asthma and exercise, 2020. Available at: Accessed February 2023.
  5. AAAAI. Indoor allergens, 2020. Available at: Accessed November 2022.
  6. GINA. Global strategy for asthma management and prevention, 2022. Available at: Accessed November 2022.
  7. Ministry of Health Singapore. FAQs on haze health advisory, 2022. Available at: Accessed November 2022.
  8. National Environment Agency. Haze – Singapore, 2022. Available at: Accessed November 2022.
  9. CDC. Common asthma triggers, 2020. Available at: Accessed November 2022.

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NP-SG-ASU-WCNT-230001. April 2023.