Physical Triggers

Several asthma triggers occur as the result of external stimuli. However, some people with asthma have internal asthma triggers. These are considered physical asthma triggers. Thus, one of these events or stimuli can trigger worsening asthma symptoms or asthma attacks in some people. 


Physical exercise has many benefits. It promotes weight loss, helps you manage certain health conditions, and is good for your mental health. However, everyone does not experience the same benefits of exercise. If you have asthma, the strenuous movements of physical exercise can trigger your asthma. 

Exercise-induced asthma

With exercise-induced asthma (EIA), physical movements are your trigger. If you answer yes to any of these questions, you are not out of shape; you likely have EIA.

  • Have you noticed respiratory symptoms during or after your workout? 
  • Do these symptoms last long after you’ve completed your workout and had a chance to “cool down?”
  • Do you need to use rescue medication to get these symptoms under control?
  • Shortness of breath
  • Wheezing
  • Coughing
  • Chest tightness of chest pain
  • Fatigue while working out

Stay Active

  • Warm-up with exercises that increase in intensity  
  • Use a pre-exercise asthma medication
  • Wear a face mask when working out 
  • Use caution when exercising outdoors – especially when other allergens (pollen, humidity) are present
  • Breathe through your nose when working out to humidify the air before it enters your lungs


Both sexes have hormones 1, which are chemicals that travel and send messages to different areas of your body. These messages are responsible for many bodily functions. Hormones also trigger asthma.

Gender Differences

Childhood asthma is more common in boys. However, this changes during adolescence. Girls between the ages of 12-16 are more likely to have asthma. Also, females tend to have more exacerbations and more severe asthma attacks because of fluctuating hormone levels. Females experience changes in their hormone levels during menstruation and pregnancy.


Females experience monthly cycles of vaginal bleeding, called menstruation. They have sex hormones called estrogen and progesterone. During menstruation, these hormone levels fluctuate. They start low, increase, and rise. There is a clear relationship between female sex hormone levels occur across all phases and changes in asthma.

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest tightness
  • Difficulty breathing

Monitor Your Asthma

  • Keep a diary or log of your asthma symptoms
  • Use hormone therapy such as birth control
  • Avoid things that trigger your asthma
  • Use inhalers, as needed
  • Seek medical attention if your symptoms are life-threatening or they progressively worsen


Pregnancy is a joyous occasion for expectant mothers. There are physical changes your body goes through as you prepare to bring new life into the world. Your hormones also change during this process. When you’re pregnant, your female sex hormones suddenly and drastically change. These changes trigger moderate-severe asthma exacerbations.

Manage Your Asthma

Most women notice that their asthma symptoms become stable by the third trimester. However, your healthcare provider may be reluctant to prescribe medications because of the potentially harmful effects on your unborn child. Consult with your healthcare provider to learn how you can manage your asthma while pregnant.

  • Avoid known asthma triggers
  • Use medications under the guidance of your provider