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Your House: How to Make It Asthma-Safe

Tyler just found out that he has asthma. His mom and dad told him that they are going to have to make some changes around the house, but what does their house have to do with his asthma?

What's a Trigger?

People with asthma have what is called a chronic (say: KRAH-nik), or continuing, problem with their airways (the breathing tubes in the lungs), which can get swollen and full of mucus. This problem is made worse by asthma triggers.

Triggers can be things like:

Triggers don't hurt most people, but they can make someone with asthma cough, wheeze, and have trouble breathing. Triggers don't cause asthma (no one knows exactly what does) but they can lead to asthma flare-ups. Your doctor will help you figure out what your triggers are.

As you probably already guessed, the idea is to control the triggers in your house. This is especially important in rooms where you spend a lot of time, like your bedroom.

The Air Indoors

Keeping the air at home clean is important. It can contain irritants (say: EAR-uh-tunts), such as:

Air pollution and pollen are triggers that can come into your home from outside if you leave your windows and doors open in warmer weather.

How can your family make sure the indoor air is clean?

Dealing With Dust Mites

Dust mites are tiny insects that live in dust. You'll find lots of them where there is food, in some kinds of bedding, and in rugs. Bedrooms usually have the most dust mites in a house.

You and your family won't be able to get rid of all the dust mites at home but you can take these steps if they're a trigger for your asthma:

Making Mold Dry Up

Mold is a type of tiny living thing that is kind of like a plant. It grows very well in damp places like bathrooms and basements. Mold makes more mold by sending what are called spores into the air. Mold spores can be an asthma trigger.

The key to getting rid of mold in your home is keeping things as dry as possible. Your parents can:

Coping With Cockroach and Animal Allergens

Animals can be a big asthma trigger. The animal parts that can trigger asthma symptoms are dander (which are skin flakes — kind of like dandruff), saliva, urine, and feathers.

And pets aren't the only living triggers at home — cockroaches can be a major asthma trigger that can be difficult to avoid in apartments.

Unfortunately, if your pet is an asthma trigger for you, you may need to find another home for the animal. Short of that, these tips can help, but aren't as effective:

If cockroaches are a problem:

You want to be comfortable at home — where you spend most of your time — so try to remove as many asthma triggers as you can. When your house doesn't cause asthma flare-ups, it really is home, sweet home!

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014

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Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
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