TIPS FOR AVOIDING COMMON ASTHMA TRIGGERS

Here are some tips to help you avoid some of the most common allergens and prevent an asthma attack.

Dust Mites

Dust Mites are microscopic organisms that make their home in house dust.

  • Use allergen-proof, zippered covers on pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
  • Pillows and bedding should not contain feathers.
  • Wash all bedding in hot water once a week.
  • Hard flooring is best.
  • If you have carpeting, wear a mask and vacuum often with a multi-layer, allergen-proof vacuum bag.
  • Do not vacuum with an asthmatic child in the room.
  • Avoid curtains and drapes.
  • Washable curtains should be washed in hot water every 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Use plain window shades instead of mini-blinds.
  • Keep clutter under control. Toys and books should be stored in enclosed bookshelves, drawers or closets.
  • Dust all surfaces with a damp cloth often.
  • Buy only washable stuffed animals.
  • Keep all clothing in closed drawers and closets.
  • Cover air ducts with filters or cheesecloth. Change often.
  • Change filters on heaters and air conditioners often.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep indoor humidity low (25%-50%)..

Mold and Mildew

Molds are microscopic fungi with spores. These spores are present in the air like pollen.

  • Keep damp, humid areas aired out.
  • Keep humidity between 25% and 50% with a dehumidifier.
  • Use air conditioners when possible.
  • Use products that kill and prevent mold and clean bathrooms regularly
  • Use exhaust fans to vent steam.
  • Do not carpet the bathroom.
  • Keep indoor plants out of bedrooms.
  • When painting, add mold inhibitor to paint to prevent mold from growing.
  • Avoid sources of outdoor molds, such as wet leaves or garden debris.
  • To clean visible mold use a cleaning solution containing 5% bleach and a small amount of detergent.

Insects

Many homes and apartments have cockroaches and other insects. Some people with asthma are allergic to a protein in their droppings which is similar to animal dander. To control these allergens in your home:

  • Use roach baits or traps.
  • Insect sprays can be used, but should only be sprayed when no one is at home.
  • Air home out for a couple of hours before the asthmatic returns
  • Roaches thrive in high humidity fix water leaks in and around your home.
  • Clean up food debris and sweep floors after you have eaten.
  • Cover food in lidded containers and clean dishes after eating.

Pollens

Pollen is a tiny egg shaped cell from flowering plants. Pollens are difficult to avoid because they cannot be eliminated from the atmosphere. Plants have different periods of pollination which varies little from year to year. Weather affects the amount of pollen in the air. Hot, dry, and windy weather causes more pollen in the air. Generally, pollen season runs from February to October.

You can lessen exposure to pollens by:

  • Limit outdoor activities during high pollen times of the day, i.e. early morning.
  • Stay indoors during humid or windy days when pollen counts are high.
  • Keep windows closed during pollen seasons.
  • Use air conditioning if possible.

Pet Dander

The proteins released from oil glands in an animal’s skin are present in the tiny scales of skin or dander the animal sloughs off.

  • It is best not to own any pets if someone in the home is highly allergic to pet dander.
  • Long visits to friends and family who own pets should be avoided. If you do visit, make sure to take asthma or allergy medicines before the visit. Keep exposure to a minimum during the visit.
  • If you must have a pet in the home, restrict its living area. It should not be allowed in your asthmatic’s bedroom at any time. If possible, keep the pet outside.
  • Wash your pet weekly.
  • Remove as much carpeting as possible. Animal dander builds up in the carpet and remains there, even after the pet is gone from the home.

Food Allergies

Avoiding exposure to food triggers, if you have allergies, can be a challenge.

  • It is important for your health to always read food labels.
  • When eating out whether at a restaurant or even at someone’s house, make it a habit to ask how foods are prepared.
  • Consider allergy shots. Doctors train your immune system to not overreact to allergy triggers by giving you allergy shots (immunotherapy) for asthma. An allergy shot is a small amount of the substance that causes your allergy. By giving repeated shots of the allergen over a period of time, your immune system becomes more tolerant and eventually stops responding with an allergic reaction.
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