How to Help Reduce Common Asthma Triggers at Home
Asthma, a serious and sometimes life-threatening condition, affects 25 million Americans, 7 million of whom are children. While you can’t prevent the condition itself, the National Institutes of Health says people with asthma can help prevent its symptoms by following doctors’ directions, taking prescribed medicines and trying to avoid the things that can make symptoms worse, called “triggers.”
That’s why it’s important to understand there may be factors inside your home that can trigger asthma symptoms. So to provide your asthma patient — whether that’s you or a loved one — with a safer living environment where he or she can breathe easily, you may want to explore ways to help avoid these triggers in your home.
Here are some common asthma triggers you can target in your home:
The waste produced by dust mites can trigger asthma attacks in some people, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Unfortunately, dust mites live in every home — taking shelter in fabric home furnishings such as upholstered furniture, carpet and mattresses. You can help minimize dust mites by taking these steps:
- Wash bedding in hot water every week, the EPA suggests.
- The EPA also says you may want to wash children’s stuffed animals in hot water and make sure they’re completely dry before they’re used again.
- Consider using allergen-proof covers on pillows and mattresses, WebMD suggests.
- If possible, remove carpeting from your home and install other types of flooring (such as wood or tile) instead, WebMD says.
- If you must have carpet, WebMD suggests that you vacuum often (either wearing a mask or doing so while your family member with asthma is out of the room).
Visit WebMD for more suggestions on how to help avoid asthma problems triggered by dust mites.
Some people can be allergic to furry friends such as cats and dogs, and these allergies can trigger symptoms in people with asthma. The EPA says the best way to avoid this is not to have pets in your home, but that some people opt to “isolate” the pet from the person with asthma, keeping the pet outside and away from the family member as much as possible.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that cockroaches can cause asthma attacks — just another reason you don’t want them in your home. If you do have a cockroach problem, you may want to talk to a professional pest control company about how to remove them. But, the CDC says it’s always a good idea to make sure and keep areas where there might be cockroach-attracting food crumbs clean.
Secondhand Tobacco Smoke
According to the EPA, secondhand smoke may trigger — and possibly even exacerbate — asthma attacks. In order to help keep secondhand smoke from causing problems for anyone with asthma in your home, you may consider asking any smokers to step outside before lighting up.
Though fireplaces and wood stoves can be atmospheric, the smoke they emit can trigger asthma attacks. If possible, the CDC suggests avoiding using them at all. If this isn’t an option, the EPA suggests that you make sure to burn only dry wood and have your chimney cleaned and inspected at least once a year by a licensed professional. If you have a wood stove, the EPA says you may want to replace it with a newer model, which can be 50 percent more efficient and produce 70 percent less pollution.