7 Unusual Asthma Triggers

7 Unusual Asthma Triggers

I have been confronting asthma for a long time. First, my only symptom was a dry cough, then, after eating certain food or when in contact with some other factors, I experienced symptoms like shortness of breath or wheezing. For many years, doctors couldn’t find a treatment that worked for me. Three years ago, I came to a more successful treatment for my dry cough that tends to appear more often than other symptoms. When in crisis, my doctor prescribed/prescribes me Singulair (Montelukast substance – but the expensive product) and Aerius (desloratadine) and, in just few days, my dry cough disappears.


Yet, over the years I realized that, in fact, my asthmatic dry cough or my shortness of breath are triggered mainly by the things I ate.

Besides usual asthma triggers such as dust, pollen, mold, some plants, there are some others that you wouldn't have thought they could trigger asthma.

That’s why I decided to write this article where to tell you more about these 7 unusual asthma triggers. Most of the time, if I avoid them 90% of the time, my risks of having asthma symptoms are very, very low.

7 Unusual Asthma Triggers

Chocolate/Dark Chocolate/Cocoa powder

I do not eat chocolate with dairy or sugar in it, but I found that even dark chocolate (with bio, organic ingredients) is bad for me. I suppose the cocoa powder is to blame here. Studies regarding chocolate are contradictory. Some say that chocolate might be mild bronchodilator, while ohers say that chocolate can trigger an asthma attack.

Besides the studies, I listen to my own body reactions so cocoa powder is a big no for me and might be a big no for you too. Just listen to your body when you eat chocolate or something with cocoa in it.

As a replacer, I use carob powder. While consuming it in moderation is ok, I realized that when used multiple times a week, carob powder could have the same negative effects as cocoa powder.


Sugar is known to increase inflammation in the body which aggravates whatever ailments you may have, not only asthma. For me, sugar is a big no, I don’t eat it due to my endometriosis diagnosis and I know this step improved my asthma too.

As a replacer I use honey. Maybe it is about processed sugar, but I tolerate honey quite well (in moderation).


Of course, I am not talking here about the pinch of pepper we add in a soup or in a dish, for example. Two years ago, I remember I baked some sweet potatoes with olive oil, salt and a little bit more pepper. This triggered an asthma attack I was able to put down only with the two medications mentioned above. I react to cinnamon in a similar way.

Certain nuts and seeds

Almonds, cashews, walnuts, hazelnuts, pistachios might be ok for me, but not peanuts, a major asthma trigger for me. The same happens with peanut butter too.
In fact, it is better for me to eat all nuts (including nuts cheese or raw vegan cakes, based on different nuts) in moderation, with a lot of “break days” in between.

Bee Propolis Tincture

This is, in fact, a natural supplement, prescribed for cold, viruses, fertility. Even if I do not have a problem with honey, another bee product, with propolis things are quite different. Propolis is much stronger and whenever I take several drops of tincture in water I develop that disturbing dry cough.

Yet, I can gargle with a mixture of propolis, baking soda and salt whenever I have a cold. Here is a very interesting article about my great “natural treatment scheme” for colds and flu.

Very sweet fruits

Dry cough or shortness of breath tends to appear after I eat too many very sweet fruits such as cherries or grapes. The same happens if I eat too sour food too, like sour cherries and I would also include here dry fruits, especially dates.

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Too much canned foods

Canned food meaning canned tuna, as this is the only canned food I eat. Canned food is not ok in general and we should avoid it. Yet, when I am too busy in going to my favourite fishery, I buy a canned tuna. If I eat canned tuna for several days in a raw, my asthma symptoms appear.

Gluten, Dairy, Soy

I mention them last, even if I should have included them much sooner, as I don't normally eat gluten, dairy and soy. However, when I did eat them, I had difficulty breathing and my asthma attacks were much more frequent. If you still eat these 3 group foods, you have asthma and disturbing symptoms, I would advise you to avoid them and see how you are feeling.

Besides these foods that might be asthma triggers, there are some other things, let’s say life habits, that could be integrated here, even if they are not foods:

Not sleeping enough

A bad habit for everything, not only for asthma, I have seen that whenever I don’t sleep enough for several days/week, I tend to develop a dry cough or, better said, to be more sensitive to the above food.

When in flare-up, sleep helps me in recovering faster.

Exercising too much

Too intense workout can trigger shortness of breath for me, that’s why I stick to mild and moderate exercise, such as walking, stretching or yoga.

Besides this, if I didn’t sleep too much or too well and, the next day, I have too many things to do in different places of the town or I stress out, my symptoms are worse or are more likely to appear.

Talking too much

Maybe asthma sufferers will understand this unusual, but very common trigger: speaking.

Strong smells

The smell of a perfume, deodorant or a laundry detergent are not ok for me, regarding asthma.

These are my top unusual asthma triggers. If you also confront asthma, maybe it could help you too in limiting or avoiding completely the above triggers. At the end of the day, it depends a lot on what we can do and on what we choose to do for our own health.


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Author Marina Rasnoveanu Marina's articles Marina Rasnoveanu

Editor, Endometriosis patient, but very well now thanks to my doctor and my way of living. I am passionate about health & healthy living, writing and researching a lot in the past years on these topics. Here I will write articles, recipes, interviews, studies and all sorts of materials about dieting, endometriosis and health.