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Creating an Asthma-Safe Home

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If your child has asthma, you can create the best home environment possible by knowing which asthma triggers are at work and eliminating or minimizing exposure to them.

Your doctor can help you identify the triggers, which might include common stuff like dust mites and pollen.

Improving Indoor Air

Maintaining good indoor air quality in your home is an important aspect of asthma management. Irritants such as tobacco or wood smoke, perfumes, aerosol sprays, cleaning products, and fumes from paint or cooking gas can trigger flare-ups. Even scented candles or fresh newsprint are triggers for some people with asthma.

What Happens During an Asthma Flare-Up?

To maintain good air quality inside your home:

If you take these steps, but are still concerned about your home's air quality, consider buying an air cleaner with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter for your child's bedroom or playroom. Central air filtration systems are also an option, but are much more expensive.

Dealing With Dust Mites

Dust mites, a very common asthma trigger, are microscopic bugs that live in household dust. Their diet consists primarily of shed human skin cells. They're especially plentiful in upholstered furniture, on some kinds of bedding, and in rugs. The highest concentration of dust mites in the home is usually found in bedrooms.

Lower the Humidity

To reduce dust mites:

Minimizing Mold

Molds are microscopic plant-like organisms. They can grow on many surfaces, and flourish in damp places like bathrooms and basements. Molds reproduce by sending spores into the air; inhaled mold spores are a common asthma trigger.

To reduce moisture and mold:

Reducing Triggers From Animals and Cockroaches

Animals are a significant asthma trigger — as many as 30% of people with asthma are allergic to one or more animals. Allergic symptoms are caused by the body's reaction to a specific protein found in the animal's saliva, urine, or dander (tiny flakes of dead skin).

Animal hair itself does not cause allergies, but it can collect mites, pollen, and mold. And any animal that lives in a cage, from birds to gerbils, will produce droppings that can attract mold and dust. If you have a pet and your child is allergic to it, your best bet is to find the animal another home.

Short of getting rid of a pet, try these steps (though they're less effective):

Cockroaches are another major asthma trigger that can be difficult to avoid in multifamily dwellings, especially in urban areas.

To avoid cockroaches:

More on Asthma Management

Trigger-proofing your home can seem overwhelming, especially if your child has multiple triggers. And the fact is, you won't be able to eliminate all triggers. Although you want your home to be safe for your child, you can't wrap it in a bubble.

Your doctor can help you decide which steps are necessary. But here are five tips to try to reduce asthma triggers:

  1. Put mattress covers on any bed your child sleeps in.
  2. Get rid of carpeting.
  3. Reduce dust.
  4. Get rid of any pest infestations.
  5. Don't permit smoking anywhere in your home.

Asthma Action PlanReducing triggers in your home — when combined with the rest of your child's asthma action plan (which might involve regular medicine and allergy shots) — can help your child breathe better and have fewer flare-ups.

Indeed, one study showed that when steps were taken to eliminate dust mites, kids with this trigger had fewer asthma symptoms, needed their quick-relief medicine (also called rescue or fast-acting medicine) less often, and were generally less sensitive to their other triggers.

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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