Here’s Help for Controlling Asthma Triggers

May 2017

Asthma triggers are things in your environment, both inside your home and outdoors, that can make your asthma worse. Asthma triggers range from dust mites and pet dander in the home to pollen and air pollution outside. Here’s how to help eliminate or avoid many of these common triggers.

Dust Mites

Many people who have asthma are allergic to dust mites. Dust mites are tiny bugs (too small to see) that are found in every home in dust, mattresses, pillows, carpets, cloth furniture, sheets and blankets, clothes, stuffed toys and other cloth-covered items. Things that may help:

  • Put your mattress and pillows in special dust-proof covers.
  • Wash sheets and blankets each week in hot water. Water must be hotter than 130 °F to kill the dust mites. Cold or warm water used with detergent and bleach can also kill dust mites.
  • Reduce indoor humidity to below 60 percent. Between 30 and 50 percent is best. Using dehumidifiers or central air conditioners can help with this.
  • Try not to sleep or lie on cloth cushions.
  • Remove carpets from your bedroom and those laid on concrete.
  • Keep stuffed toys off of the bed or sleeping area. Wash stuffed toys weekly in hot water or in cooler water with detergent and bleach. Dust mites can also be killed by placing stuffed animals in the freezer overnight in a plastic bag.

Indoor Mold

  • Fix leaky faucets, pipes or other water sources that have mold around them.
  • Scrub mold off hard surfaces with soap and water and dry completely. Wear gloves to avoid touching mold with your bare hands. If you use a cleaner with bleach or a strong smell, always ventilate the area.

Pollen and Outdoor Mold

  • Try to keep your windows closed.
  • Stay indoors from late morning to afternoon, if you can. Pollen and some mold-spore counts are highest at that time.
  • If you do go outside, change your clothes as soon as you get inside and put dirty clothes in a covered hamper or container to avoid spreading allergens inside your home. If pollen counts are particularly high, you may want to shower and wash your hair after being outside for an extended period.

Source: National Asthma Education and Prevention Program

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