Asthma attacks can be frightening and even life threatening. Those living with the condition can take steps to cut the likelihood of an attack at home by removing common triggers.
Remove Known Allergens
Most asthma sufferers know certain allergens that can bring on an attack, but some may not have identified them all. Mystery asthma attacks can be triggered by many allergens. The obvious answer is to keep known allergens out of your home, but it may also be helpful to remove those potential allergens that commonly cause problems for others. Allergens from both inhaled particles and foods can trigger asthma. These include:
- Animal dander
- Dust mites and cockroach particles
- Dust and pollen spores
- Scented sprays
- Dairy products
- Peanuts or tree nuts (like almonds, pecans or walnuts)
- Soy products
- Wheat products
- Fish, shrimp and shellfish
- Food preservatives
When trying to isolate potential food allergens, it makes sense to cut out one type of food at a time for several weeks, paying attention to how you feel. Keep a log of your asthma attacks, noting frequency and severity so you can see if eliminating a food allergen helped.
Eliminating airborne particles requires a bit more work. Use these methods to remove them:
Dust Mites and Bug Particles – Use mite proof casings on pillows and mattresses. Wash your sheets and pillowcases at least once a week in hot water to remove dust mites that can accumulate in them. The most effective way to cut dust mites is to give them fewer places to hide. Replace carpeting in your home with other hard surfaces like tile, hardwood or polished concrete.
Pet Dander – You don’t have to give up pets to lower your asthma symptoms. You can control pet dander by keeping your pets off places where you commonly sit or sleep, like the sofa or your bed. Getting rid of rugs that harbor pet dander can help as well, but for severe pet allergies and asthma, you may be forced to give up the family pet.
Smoke – Never let anyone smoke in your house or your car, because second-hand smoke is one of the most powerful asthma irritants. Don’t burn candles in your home, especially scented candles or incense, because they too cause airway irritation and can set off an attack.
Aerosols and Sprays – The propellants in aerosols can trigger asthma, so cut out spray products as much as possible and never use them in the same room as an asthmatic. This includes hairspray, deodorants, perfume, cleaning products and air fresheners. In fact, try never to use room fresheners at all, whether aerosol, plug in or paper, since all forms of room fresheners have been known to trigger asthma.
Dust, Pollen – Dust and pollen are two of the most common causes of asthma. Get a high quality vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, but avoid a bagless system. There is little point in cleaning up all the dust, only to release much of it back into the air when you empty the collection bin. Vacuum rugs, curtains and furniture at least once a week, and do entry areas daily if you can. Use an electrostatic cloth for dusting at least once a week to pick up as much dust as possible. Use air filters in your home’s heating system, or purchase an air purifier, especially for rooms where you spend the most time.
Mold – Repair any water leaks promptly, and dry wet areas thoroughly before mold has a chance to form. Houseplants and shower curtains are also possible sources of mold, so check them often.
While you can’t eliminate all asthma attacks, taking care of the most common triggers can go a long way. Your home won’t be asthma free, but it will surely be asthma friendly.