Importance of identifying asthma triggers indoors
Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways with various causes, affecting people of all ages and characterized by recurrent attacks of shortness of breath, coughing and wheezing. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 235 million people worldwide have asthma and this number continues to rise every year, making it a major public health problem.
Asthma triggers vary from person to person, but some common asthma triggers that can be found inside the home include second-hand smoke, dust mites, mold, cleaning products , pet dander, cockroaches and other pests, and pollution. Therefore, it is important to identify and prevent these inner triggers to prevent an asthma attack.
Here are some important steps for patients that can help reduce asthma triggers:
- Keeping your home clean goes a long way in reducing asthma triggers like dust mites and pet dander.
- When dusting or vacuuming furniture and surfaces, you can wear a mask in case the dust acts as a trigger.
- You can change your sheets weekly and wash the other sheets in hot water once a month.
- In the kitchen, keep surfaces free of crumbs and spills and wash dishes immediately after preparing food or eating.
- If you have pets, in addition to bathing them regularly, try to keep them out of bedrooms and outdoors as much as possible.
- Mold thrives in moisture; moist spaces and this can be a major asthma trigger.
- To prevent mold or mold spores from taking hold, keep your home dry, especially in the kitchen and bathroom. After taking a bath, keep your bathroom door open to dry out completely.
- Be sure to keep hard surfaces such as counters clean and dry, watching for dirty spots that could indicate mold.
- Cockroaches, mice, rats and their droppings can be asthma triggers. It’s important to keep your home pest-free to avoid asthma triggers.
- You can take steps to keep your home pest-free, such as keeping food in closed containers, storing your garbage in trash cans with lids, and cleaning food as soon as possible after eating.
- Use unscented cleaning products Strong odors are a common irritant, so be sure to choose only unscented cleaning products.
- Avoid using artificial air fresheners which can trigger indoor allergies and breathing problems in people with asthma.
- If you have pests, avoid using pesticide sprays as they can also be a trigger.
- Medicines and disinfectants for cockroaches, and poison baits or sticky traps for rodents.
- Smoking is bad for the lungs, but even inhaling second-hand smoke can be bad for asthmatics.
- Consider making your home a smoke-free zone and ask other smokers to do it outside, so it doesn’t act as a trigger.
- Circulate the air in your home by opening windows on warm days and using fans.
- Avoid using scented sprays or candles that give off strong odors. If air pollution acts as a trigger for you, consider getting an air purifier.
- Finally, you can find other ways to make your home safer for your own purposes. Wash your hands frequently or use hand sanitizer, especially when coming from outside.
- Keep an asthma action plan ready in consultation with your doctor and identify your specific asthma triggers and let others in your household know.
If your asthma symptoms get worse despite reducing these triggers and taking your asthma medications regularly, see your doctor. Preventative measures can help better manage asthma.
The opinions expressed above are those of the author.
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