6 Indoor Asthma Triggers to Avoid

  • Woman sitting on sofa reading magazine
    Tame the Triggers
    Your home is your haven, but when you have asthma, there may be allergens or irritants lurking in the shadows that can trigger an asthma attack or make your condition worse. Luckily, there’s a lot you can do to reduce your exposure to these triggers and make your home your most protected environment once again.

  • dusting-near-bed
    1. Dust Mites
    As unpleasant as it may sound, we are all living with tiny creatures who feast on the dead skin cells our bodies shed. We just can’t see these dust mites on our bedding, clothing and furniture because they’re so tiny. What’s worse are their droppings, which can be a strong asthma trigger. To minimize them, use zippered, allergen-proof covers for your bedding, and wash them in hot water weekly. If possible, have someone else do your cleaning, and use a HEPA filter for the vacuum, furnace and air conditioning unit, which keeps dust mites from circulating. Your best bet is to replace rugs, curtains and stuffed furniture with hard, smooth options where dust mites can’t hide.

  • Portrait of beautiful Golden Retriever
    2. Pet Dander
    Like people, pets shed their skin cells, too, and this dander is a problem for certain people with asthma. More people seem to be allergic to the dander from cats than dogs. If this is a problem for you, keep your pet outdoors as much as possible, and never allow him in the bedroom. Bathe your fluffy friend often, and wash your hands after petting or playing with him. If these measures don’t help, you may need to consider finding another good home for your pet.

  • Smoking
    3. Secondhand Smoke
    Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, cigars or pipes can not only trigger asthma, it can increase the severity of an attack. Children are especially vulnerable as they have smaller bodies that breathe in smoke more rapidly. Never allow smoking in your home (or your car). Politely let guests know how secondhand smoke affects your lungs. If you must, provide a designated outdoor area far from the home for guests to do their smoking.

  • cockroach-on-floor
    4. Cockroaches
    For people with asthma, having a cockroach problem is more than just a sanitation issue. Many are allergic to the dust that roaches leave behind. Luckily, integrated pest management (IPM), used by many pest control companies and landlords, is a safe and effective way to eliminate cockroaches, minimizing your exposure to poisonous chemicals. But you still need to use a good household cleaner to clear out any remaining dust. Also, keep all food containers and trash sealed, and minimize clutter where roaches like to hide.

  • hand-on-stove-dial
    5. Gases and Smoke
    The gas and smoke produced by many household appliances, such as stoves, furnaces and fireplaces, can also pose a problem for people with asthma. If these fuel-burning appliances don’t work properly, they may produce carbon monoxide, a toxic gas. And if they aren’t vented well, they can create moisture in the home. Be sure to keep your appliances and fireplace in working order, and install a carbon monoxide detector in the home.

  • cotton-pads-and-peroxide
    6. Household Irritants
    There are many household products that can inflame sensitive airways and cause an asthma episode. These include fumes and odors from the chemicals found in cleaning products, paints, and even soaps and perfume. It may take some detective work to find the culprit of your breathing problem, so it can be helpful switching to products that contain mostly natural ingredients. You may find that just one of these triggers poses a problem for you, or you may have trouble with most or all of them. Work with your doctor to determine what your strongest triggers are and discuss any additional ways to minimize your exposure. You may not be able to eliminate all potential triggers, but your doctor can also recommend the best line of treatment for those times when you simply can’t avoid exposure and may be vulnerable to an asthma episode.



6 Indoor Asthma Triggers to Avoid

About The Author

Susan Fishman, NCC, CRC is a veteran freelance writer with more than 25 years of experience in health education, and a knack for turning complex medical jargon into something the average reader can understand. Her work has been featured in The Washington Post and HuffPost, and on numerous other national health, wellness and parenting sites. She is also a National Certified Counselor and Clinical Rehabilitation Counselor, adding mental health and wellness to her area of expertise.
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  3. Asthma Triggers Indoors. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. http://www.cdc.gov/asthma/triggers_indoor.html
  4. Controlling Asthma Triggers in the Home. Environmental Health Watch. http://www.ehw.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/Indoor-Asthma-Triggers.pdf
  5. Asthma Triggers: Gain Control. US Environmental Protection Agency. https://www.epa.gov/asthma/asthma-triggers-gain-control
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Last Review Date: 2021 Jan 20
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