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Irritants are things that can trigger asthma or allergy like symptoms.  They may not necessarily be an allergy like a pollen or mold or cat or dog but they can be equally bothersome.  Some examples would be things like cigarette smoke, strong perfumes or chemical smells, infections, sometimes just changes in temperature or humidity can be really irritating. 

Many people who have allergies are also sensitive to irritants.  Many people just are sensitive to the irritants but it is extremely common.  Symptoms people usually would notice would be watery eyes, runny nose, congestion, sometimes drainage down the back of the throat when they're around those specific triggers.  Avoiding them is really important.  The irritants like humidity and temperature changes are tough because that's just part of the environment and we all have to go outside, so those are a little trickier.  Some of the others like the strong chemical smells, you could try to avoid things like bleach or ammonia for cleaning.

Because these things are hard to avoid, medications can be very important to control your symptoms.  Interestingly allergy medicines work really well for these irritants as well, so a lot of times for patients who have irritant triggers, we still use the same types of medicines as if they have allergies so things like nose sprays or antihistamines can still be really helpful.  ​​

​​Irritants are things that can trigger asthma or allergy like symptoms.  Dr. Jill Hanson, Allergist, with Boys Town National Research Hospital, explains the common irritant triggers and what you can do to avoid them.​​​