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Intrinsic Asthma Triggers?

Hi all, I suffer from Intrinsic Asthma and I’ve really been struggling to get it under control, I was diagnosed almost 2 years ago and it’s never really been under control, I know that it’s harder to control than the allergic asthma but it must be possible.

Anyone else here who suffers from Intrinsic Asthma who might be able to share your triggers? I can no longer wear perfume or aerosol deodorant and I know that smoke, cleaning products, cold weather and damp really affect it but are there any other triggers that I might be missing that might not be so obvious! I really need to get on top of it as it’s starting to get me down now!

16 Replies

OK, first thanks, Dawn! Somehow, even after spending nearly a year on here and reading loads, I didn't know what intrinsic asthma was. Have looked it up and found it fits me perfectly what with the non-allergic triggers, continuous symptoms which are hard to control and being set off by a resp. infection. So I am not as weird as I thought! Well, except for age - apparently I'm a bit young for it plus I already had asthma.

Like you I'm really struggling to get control (didn't help that I was a while being diagnosed). I've been referred again and hoping they can sort it as like you it's getting me down. Not sure if I can help with the triggers though as mine are mainly the same (exercise, cold air, damp, smoky things, probably cleaning products though I pretend not, anything strongly floral-smelling or strong flowers like lavender, and warm, humid air (go figure when cold and dry is bad...this makes no sense). However, a lot of the time I actually have no idea what's making it worse - except that too much exercise can have an effect for a while sometimes - even just walking around too much.

Sorry for rambling on - I hope this helps a bit!


Refreshing to know other people have the same issues, I was getting really frustrated by my GP and consultant because of the lack of control I've had over it but it's a bit depressing to read that this is normal with Intrinsic Asthma as it is very difficult to treat. I did a search on here and there isn't much mentioned on this type of asthma unless it has another name, maybe I should search non-allergic asthma!! Humidity is def a trigger which as you point out means we just can't win, has to be just right!!

From what a read it's common in people above 40, like you I don't fit in to this as I'm only 29!! :-/


Yeah it is pretty depressing! Have been struggling recently - NO idea why - and just learned that my current referral has been screwed up aargghh. This does not make me happier.

But glad - well not glad exactly but you know what I mean - that there's another one of us on here who's 'too young' for it. Try searching for non-allergic asthma though, there was definitely a thread on it so there are others here.

Do you respond to steroids? I don't seem to at all, so am on a slightly weird medication combo. The montelukast has worked best of anything.


Have also just found out what intrinsic asthma is

and it is simmlar to mine except for age I am 28.

triggers are cold air smoke and some sort of industral solvent

had asthma since I was a kid but haven't had symptoms for ages

and uni gp decided I dndn't have asthma which was tricky

luckly now the awnser is just try another inhaler


I have intrinsic asthma too. A consultant once said to me that the trouble with intrinsic asthma is that even if you are in a hermetically sealed room you will still have asthma, whereas if you have allergic asthma being in the hermetically sealed room would get rid of your asthma symptoms.

Apart from the thing you listed, the only other things I know trigger my asthma are dusty atmospheres, old buildings, pollution, humidity and colds (definitely the worst for me). As it is 'intrinsic' there are other times when my asthma is worse for no apparent reason, which can be fustrating.

On a good note with quite a few meds I do have periods of reasonable control! And even short periods of really good control! Have you tried different inhalers and medications Dawn?


does intrinsic asthma always have to be bad and difficult to control?

Only asking cos from what people have said in this thread it sounds like mine is intrinsic. i'm lucky in that i can have long periods of good control but i can nosedive, though i can usually pinpoint a trigger.

My normal triggers are exercise (especially outdoors), colds and the cold weather. If i'm in a bad spell then other things can make it worse like spray deodorants etc


I have always thought of my asthma as allergic and sensitive to lots of things. But apart from pollen, dust mites and moulds, I react to many of the triggers mentioned... High humidity, cold, very hot, dusty conditions, aerosol sprays, perfumes, smoke and colds and viruses.

And when it becomes out of control it is always very difficult to get back into control. I am interested to learn more...


My Asthma is the same also and all year round.Only showed on allergy test to have a slight grass allergy and the rest same as you and more and not pet allergy on Rast test x


Hi Dawn

have you tried diet as a possible trigger i suffer Intrinsic asthma, but also found out i was allergic to dairy foods. have you though of makeup- especially powder forms, baby powder.

try not to let it get you down i know its often hard. as for perfume my friend bought me a small stick of orange blossom perfume from lush- (you can get it online) its not a strong scent so may not affect you as much

hope you get some control soon take care



I did find 'intrinsic' described me pretty well when I googled it (so much so that I was amazed none of the doctors seemed to think of it and therefore of asthma - maybe they were misled by me being early to mid 20s).

However, I guess you don't have to have all the features - and the definition I saw said it tends to be continuous but doesn't have to be. medical-dictionary.thefreed... This is what I found which really made me think (and explains a lot of your triggers JF), and if you google 'intrinsic asthma' the medicinenet entry is also quite helpful.

I guess there must be some crossover with allergies though. I'm not allergic to much but I do find strong-smelling flowers and flower-scented products make my breathing worse. I also have very mild eczema which flares up when my chest does (like now grrr) and both asthma and eczema run in my family (my brother's eczema is quite bad but his asthma is very mild), even though eczema's meant to go with 'allergic' asthma. I'm not generally allergic to cats, but we did have one cat when I was younger who made my asthma worse and we had to give him away (we already had 2 but they were Burmese and I was ok with them).


My asthma was diagnosed in my early/mid 20's too Philomela, although I had trouble breathing as a child/teenager in warm, summer rain and cross country running and tennis. But as no asthma in the family back then there was no awareness of what it was.

I will have a look at the link, thanks. BTW my mum was diagnosed with asthma 3 years after me aged 55.


Hmm so everyone on here with 'intrinsic' so far seems to have been diagnosed younger than what they say is the usual age for it! I know we're not really a proper sample but I wonder what the age thing is based on and whether the stats and methods are sound.

You do hear of people getting diagnosed with asthma years after first symptoms. I wonder whether, because intrinsic asthma is often continuous and not episodic, the average age of diagnosis is older but not the actual age of onset, because it's harder to spot if the doctor isn't listening and paying careful attention and the symptoms are less 'classic' than allergic asthma - maybe no A&E visits etc but just feeling under the weather and perhaps thinking you're unfit, and even being told you have something else/you're breathing wrong.


I have looked at the link Philomela and it does describe me perfectly too. The first time I have heard of a reason why my asthma is difficult to control!


Since I've posted this I've tried more and more to find out as much info as I can for intrinsic or non-allergic asthma and there isn't much out there really, I have a friend who is a GP, I don't like to bug her about medical stuff but I think it might be time to pick her brains.

When I was fianlly oficially diagnosed with non-allergic asthma I thought proper treatment would help me get on top of things but actually things have got worse and now I don't have any symptom free days at all, I would very much like to be fit again and get back in to my running and cycling but I don't feel confident enough with my breathing.

I've not thought about triggers that might be in what I eat, I will try and cut out dairy for a week and see if that helps.


Although harder to control. When it finally kicks in . Control over intrinsic asthma usually last longer..... Just a case of being patient and finding the combination that works ....


Ive had athsma since I was 33 (now57) and no ones ever called it intrinsic. I've had all of the symptoms and triggers mentioned . I think the doctors just want to give it a new name. I'm not female so I don't wear make up or perfume, but when a lady walks past, it really sets me off. Same issues with all aerosols, chemicals etc.. But we're not built to smother our bodies in chemicals, especially our tiny little delicate alveoli. The vapours damage our lungs and the chemicals are absorbed into the skin and our body fights back and creates an allergy.. The wheezing and tight chest is its reponse. Avoiding the triggers is a good starting point. Monitor the changes when you do


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