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Controlling asthma triggers

As well as taking prescribed medication for asthma, avoiding known triggers is important to help prevent asthma attacks.

Asthma triggers in the home include dust mites, moulds, pollens, pets, household irritants and secondhand tobacco smoke.

Outdoors, pollen, the weather and exercise may trigger symptoms.

How can I protect myself against dust mites?

  • Consider encasing pillows, mattresses, and box springs with allergen-proof, zippered covers.
  • Wash all bedding in hot water about once a week.
  • Non-carpeted flooring may be better. If you can not get rid of your carpeting, vacuum often with a multi-layer, allergen-proof vacuum bag. Wear a mask while vacuuming. If your child has asthma, do not vacuum while he or she is in the room. Products that eliminate dust mites from carpeting can be purchased. Your doctor can give you information about these products.
  • Regularly change filters on heaters and air conditioners.
  • Consider replacing heavy, lined curtains or drapes with washable window coverings. Wash window coverings in hot water. Use plain window shades instead of blinds.
  • Dust all surfaces often, including lampshades and windowsills, with a damp cloth.
  • Keep clutter under control. Toys and books should be stored in enclosed bookshelves, drawers, or closets.
  • Replace traditional stuffed animals with washable stuffed animals.
  • Keep all clothing in drawers and wardrobes. Keep drawers and wardrobes closed.
  • Pillows and bedding should not contain feathers.
  • Consider using a dehumidifier.

How do I stop mould and mildew from growing in my home?

  • Air out damp, humid areas frequently. Run a dehumidifier to keep humidity between 25 and 50%.
  • Use air conditioners when possible.
  • Clean bathrooms regularly using products that kill and prevent mould. Use extractor fans to vent steam. Do not carpet the bathroom.
  • Keep indoor plants out of bedrooms.
  • When painting, add mould inhibitor to paint to prevent mould from growing.
  • Avoid sources of outdoor moulds, such as wet leaves or garden debris.

How do I control insects inside my home?

While not common in the UK, some homes and flats have cockroaches as well as other insects. Some people with asthma are allergic to these. To control these allergens in your home:

  • Use roach baits or traps, and follow safety instructions.
  • Insect sprays can be used but should only be sprayed when no one is at home.
  • Before you or your child returns home after spraying, make sure that your home has been aired out for a couple of hours.

How can I decrease my exposure to pollens?

Pollens are difficult to avoid, as they can not be eliminated from the atmosphere. You can lessen your or your child's exposure to these by following these guidelines:

  • Pollen counts are highest early in the morning, especially on warm, dry days. Limit outdoor activities during these times.
  • Keep windows closed during pollen seasons.
  • Use air conditioning if possible.

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