Rid Your Home of Asthma Triggers

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Your home should be your haven. Yet it could harbor unwanted asthma triggers that can make your asthma worse. Learning how to limit your contact with triggers can help keep your asthma under control. Here’s a guide to some common asthma triggers in the home—and how to avoid them. 

Avoid Household Chemicals 

The chemicals in some household products may irritate your airways and trigger asthma. Some common culprits include:

  • Air fresheners
  • Cleaning products 
  • Cosmetics
  • Glues
  • Paints
  • Pesticides

If household chemicals make your asthma worse, try to avoid these products. One option is to buy all-natural products made from plant sources. Or you can use household staples like vinegar and baking soda for cleaning. Consider hiring someone to clean your home or shift that chore to another household member. And try to be out of the house while cleaning or painting takes place.

Prevent Indoor Molds

Molds are another common asthma trigger. They thrive in damp places and are often found in bathrooms, basements, and around water leaks. Here’s how to avoid them:

  • Fix any water leaks as soon as you find them. Dry the area completely.
  • Hire a professional for large cleanups—more than 10 square feet.
  • Run exhaust fans in the bathroom and kitchen. If you don’t have a fan, open a window while showering, cooking, and washing dishes.
  • Scrub mold from hard surfaces with water and detergent. Dry well.
  • Wear protective gear when cleaning mold. Use rubber gloves, goggles, and an N-95 respirator mask. These masks are sold at many hardware stores.

Control Dust and Dust Mites 

Both dust and dust mites can cause asthma symptoms. Take these steps to reduce their numbers in your home: 

  • Consider replacing carpet with wood or tile flooring, if possible.
  • Enclose mattresses, box springs, and pillows in allergen-proof fabric covers or airtight plastic covers.
  • Wash bedding once a week in hot water—130 degrees. Dry in a hot dryer. 
  • Wipe down surfaces regularly with a damp cloth. 
  • Vacuum carpets and upholstered furniture weekly. 
  • Choose a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter.

Tame Pet Allergies

Here are some tips on breathing easier when you share your home with a furry friend: 

  • Ban indoor pets from your bedroom. Don’t allow them on the furniture. If possible, limit pets to uncarpeted areas of your home.
  • Have someone else clean the cage, if you have a hamster or other caged pet.
  • Keep pets outdoors as much as possible.
  • Talk with your veterinarian about a balanced diet for your pet. This may reduce skin flaking, which is one source of allergies.

Eliminate Pests 

Even clean homes sometimes harbor unwelcome pests like cockroaches. You can reduce your risk for this asthma trigger by: 

  • Cleaning inside cabinets and under the refrigerator and stove often
  • Fixing wall cracks, unsealed windows, and other openings where pests may enter your home
  • Putting away pet food dishes as soon as your pet finishes eating
  • Repairing cracks and gaps around kitchen cabinets
  • Storing food in airtight containers and cleaning up dirty dishes, food spills, and crumbs right away
  • Using a lidded garbage can and making sure trash and recyclables don’t pile up

Limit Indoor Pollutants

Indoor pollution may also cause asthma flare-ups. Take these steps to improve the air quality inside your home.

  • Don’t let anyone smoke in your home—including you.
  • Get your chimney inspected and cleaned every year. Have your woodstove inspected yearly as well. To reduce smoke, burn dry wood that has been split and stacked for at least six months.
  • If you have a gas stove, run the exhaust fan while you cook. Never use a cooking stove to heat your home.
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Medical Reviewer: William C. Lloyd III, MD, FACS
Last Review Date: 2018 Oct 5

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