Common Asthma Triggers & How to Reduce Them in Your Home
Asthma triggers are allergens and irritants that aggravate the lungs and trigger asthma attacks (also called asthma episodes or flare-ups). One of the best ways to prevent an asthma attack is to reduce asthma triggers. Removing triggers from the home not only helps both children and adults with asthma, but creates a healthy environment for everyone. There are many different triggers, and not every asthmatic has the same ones. For some, a single trigger can set off an asthma attack. For others, several triggers add up to cause an asthma attack.
What is Asthma?
Asthma is a respiratory condition that causes the airway to narrow and restricts breathing. Approximately 1 in 13 people are affected by asthma. Two of the most common types of asthma are allergic and non-allergic. Allergic asthma is the most common form and is caused or worsened by allergies to things like fragrances, pollen, mold spores, dust mite allergens, and pet dander. Non-allergic asthma is caused by other factors like exercise, stress, smoke, and airway infections.
Common Asthma Triggers Include:
Furry & Feathered Animals
Animals with fur or feathers carry allergens in their saliva and on their skin (dander), fur or feathers. While there is no such thing as a truly hypoallergenic pet, the good news is that you may be able to coexist with your pets without exacerbating asthma symptoms. By taking precautions, you may be able to control the dander sufficiently to avoid asthma symptoms.
What to do:
- Limit pets’ access to bedrooms.
- Regularly use an Anti-Allergen Pet Shampoo to neutralize allergens (including pet dander and dust mite allergens).
- Vacuum around the home frequently with a HEPA filter vacuum.
- Regularly use an Anti-Allergen Solution on bedding, upholstery, carpeting, pet beds, and furniture.
Weather and Air Pollution
Weather that is very hot or very cold can trigger asthma in some asthma sufferers. Smoggy air can trigger asthma. Smog contains ozone which is formed when pollutants from cars, trucks, industrial facilities, power plants, etc., react in the presence of heat and sunlight. Particulate matter (particles found in the air) including dust, dirt, soot, and smoke, can trigger an asthma attack.
What to do:
- Limit outdoor activities for a person with asthma when the weather is very hot or very cold.
- On very hot days, or on days with poor air quality, try to use air conditioning instead of opening the windows.
- In very cold weather, make sure that a person with asthma covers their mouth and nose with a scarf.
Dust mites are microscopic bugs that primarily live on dead skin cells regularly shed from humans and their companion animals. Dust mites are generally harmless to most people. They don't carry diseases, but they can cause allergic reactions in asthmatics and others who are allergic to their feces. Dust mites live where there is dust – in carpets, bedding, pillows, upholstered furniture, stuffed toys, on surfaces, and more.
What to do:
- Dust around the home often using a damp cloth.
- Wash sheets, blankets and pillows once a week with an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent.
- Use washable throw rugs on hard-surface floors, such as hardwood, linoleum or tile.
- If there is carpeting, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. At a minimum, use double-lined vacuum bags to reduce the amount of allergens released into the air while vacuuming.
- Use a rinse-and-vac cleaner on upholstery, carpet, rugs, and mattresses to deep clean and remove dust mites. Also adding a miticide will help to keep dust mites from coming back. Dust mites also thrive in places with high humidity, so make sure you allow plenty of time for thorough drying. A fan will help speed up your drying time.
The body parts and droppings of cockroaches and rodents contain allergens. Even small particles of dead cockroaches settle in dust and end up in the air we breathe; this can trigger an asthma attack. Pests are attracted to food, water, and shelter (clutter and cardboard).
What to do:
- Store food and garbage in tightly sealed containers. Do not leave food or garbage out.
- Clean all food crumbs or spilled liquids right away and clean eating areas daily.
- Seal cracks in walls, baseboards, windows, and doors, and clean up cluttered areas where roaches like to hide.
- Use poison baits or traps only if you can place them out of the reach of children. Avoid chemical sprays, which are very toxic to children and can trigger an asthma attack. If the pest problem is severe, seek expert help.
- Use Vital Oxide to eliminate allergens from pests. Vital Oxide is proven effective against rodent dander and dust mite and cockroach allergens. It can also be used to sanitize after pests are removed from the home.
Pollen is a common allergen that comes from trees, flowers, grasses, and weeds.
What to do:
- If you or a family member has a pollen allergy, stay informed of the daily pollen count. On days when the report lists high levels of pollen to which the asthma sufferer is sensitive, keep windows closed and if possible, use air conditioning.
- If you have children with asthma, keep the outdoor yard and play areas clear of fallen leaves, compost piles and cut grass. Avoid cutting grass or blowing leaves when asthmatic children are present.
- Vacuum around the home frequently with a HEPA filter vacuum to remove any pollen that got inside.
Fumes, Odors, and Strong Scents
Strong fumes, odors, and scents can trigger an asthma attack.
What to do:
- Avoid using hairspray, perfumes, powders, or air fresheners.
- Avoid using fragranced cleaning and laundry products. Instead, use Vital Oxide for all of your cleaning needs, and an Anti-Allergen Laundry Detergent to keep your clothes and linens fresh, clean, and allergen-free.
- Improve ventilation by using exhaust fans or opening windows when it is hot or stuffy, or when there are strong odors from cooking or fumes from heating.
Mold & Mildew
Molds produce microscopic spores that are carried in the air and can be harmful to people with asthma and allergies. Molds grow where dampness occurs and can become prominent in places where dampness is hidden (such as under carpets). Excess moisture is a result of water leaks, condensation, and excess humidity.
What to do:
- If mold is a problem, first clean up the mold (seek expert help if needed) and get rid of the excess moisture. Use Vital Oxide to get to the root of the problem and to help keep mold and mildew from coming back. Vital Oxide is a proven mold and mildew killer with up to seven months of residual effects. It’s also safe to use on surfaces traditional mold and mildew killers would damage, such as carpeting and marble.
- Fix all sources of water leaks and clean up any excess water. If the leak was severe or if moisture persists after the leak is fixed, using dehumidifiers, exhaust fans, and portable air-conditioning units can help reduce humidity and lingering moisture. It’s also a good idea to open up the building to increase ventilation if it’s less humid outside.
- Use exhaust fans or open the windows in the kitchen and in bathrooms to cut down on moisture and remove strong odors.
- Limit the use of humidifiers or vaporizers in your home. Adding excess moisture to the air can lead to mold and mildew. In addition, without proper care, bacteria can colonize in humidifiers and lead to a dangerous lung condition known as “humidifier fever”, which asthma-sufferers are particularly susceptible to. Vital Oxide can be used to sanitize humidifiers or vaporizers.
- Heating, air conditioning, and ventilating systems, including evaporative coolers, should be cleaned and serviced regularly. Vital Oxide can be used to sanitize HVAC systems, as well as eradicate mold and mildew.
Tobacco smoke is a common trigger for asthma. Tobacco smoke – including secondhand and thirdhand smoke – is unhealthy for everyone, especially people with asthma.
What to do:
- Go smoke-free. If that’s not an option, never smoke indoors in a home where an asthmatic lives. When smoking outdoors, wear an overcoat and remove it when coming indoors. The smell of smoke can trigger asthma.
- If you move into a home or purchase a car that was previously smoked in, it’s imperative to remove the carcinogenic residue. Three months after smokers move out of a house and nonsmokers move in, tobacco residues remain that can be picked up and ingested by the new residents, a San Diego State University study shows. The study looked at what’s called thirdhand smoke, the pollutants left clinging to walls, carpeting, furniture and even the dust in a room after a smoker has left moments or months before. After cleaning and removing dust and grime, use Vital Oxide to completely eliminate any lingering odors from tobacco smoke. Rather than masking odors, Vital Oxide works by oxidation. Vital Oxide eliminates odors caused by tobacco smoke, fire smoke, musty odors, stale cooking odors, and more. Simply spray, fog, or wipe on full-strength and let air dry to provide long lasting residual deodorizing action.