Asthma is a chronic disease and there is no cure, but it can be managed. There are many causes of asthma, but most of them are beyond your control. Asthma attacks are a result of exposure to certain substances and circumstances. These are called asthma triggers and they can also make an attack worse. Once you know your asthma triggers, you can take steps to avoid them. Sometimes exposure to an asthma trigger is not possible, but you can still take precautions to avoid an asthma flare-up.
Allergens are the most common triggers of asthma attacks. Avoiding the allergen is the best way to prevent these attacks. Here are some things that you should consider.
1. Adjust your lifestyle
Dust and smoke are frequent asthma triggers, but you can avoid attacks by making lifestyle adjustments. Avoid restaurants and public places that allow smoking. When you travel or book a hotel room, try to find carriers and hotels that don’t permit smoking. Carry clean bed sheets and pillowcases with you while travelling. If your hotel room has bedding or upholstery that can harbor dust mites, you can use the sheets to cover them and minimize your exposure.
2. Be careful with pets
Pet dander is a common allergy trigger. The amount of dander depends on the animal and its breed. Proteins present in animal saliva, urine, skin, hair and litter can also trigger asthma attacks. Not keeping pets is the best option, but if that’s not possible, you can take steps to minimize problems.
From an asthma point of view, pets are best kept outdoors. If you have an indoor pet, try to keep it out of your bedrooms, study or any other places where you spend a lot of time. Keep pets off sofas, beds and carpets. Regular grooming will prevent overgrowth of fur, which is a common asthma trigger. Check with your vet and bathe your pet as frequently as possible. Vacuum twice a day to prevent accumulation of dander. Wash your hands thoroughly after playing with or handling your pet.
3. Control pests
Pest remains and droppings are common asthma triggers. Cockroaches are a common problem in most houses. Take steps to keep your home cockroach free. You can discourage cockroaches by keeping food closed and preventing garbage from accumulating. Clear the garbage before dusk to avoid attracting cockroaches. Clean the kitchen regularly to clear pest droppings or other pest debris.
If you have a serious pest problem, call a pest control agency. They will use gels and other methods to get rid of cockroaches. You can also use baits and traps to keep their numbers in check. Avoid using toxic pesticides, especially the type that has to be sprayed. The smell and fumes of these pesticides can also trigger attacks.
Mold, mold spores and mildew are potent asthma triggers. High humidity encourages their growth. They grow more aggressively in dark and damp areas. Mold can grow in invisible corners and areas in your home without your being aware of it. It is, therefore, important to prevent conditions that favor mold growth. Keep humidity in check by using a dehumidifier and use exhaust fans in bathrooms.
Prevent conditions for mold growth by fixing leaks as soon as possible. Garments should be dried completely, preferably in sunlight. If you see any signs of mold, have it removed quickly. If mold cannot be fully removed from a garment, discard it. Mold growth is common in towels, shower curtains, damp walls and firewood.
5. Dust mites
Dust mites live on fabric materials like curtains, upholstery and carpets. Their droppings are common asthma triggers. Dust mites are very difficult to eliminate, but you can minimize the problem. Using dust-proof covers and pillow wraps will contain the problem to a great extent. Wash curtains and linen in hot water at least once in a week to kill the mites.
6. Pollen and dust
Pollen is often the trigger for seasonal asthma attacks. If your attacks are seasonal, check which plants are blooming only during that period. An allergist will be able to help you identify the exact cause. Remove the offending plants from your surroundings if possible. Avoid going outdoors during seasons during which the pollen count is high.
Use an air conditioner with a suitably high MERV-rated air filter to keep dust and pollen in check. Keep air filters clean and change them on time. Using dirty filters can be counterproductive. Avoid carpets because they harbor dust and dust mites. It is better to use hardwood floors.
Manage airborne irritants
Substances like smoke and perfumes have the ability to irritate the airways. In asthma patients, this can cause inflammation of the respiratory tract and trigger an attack. Here are some common irritants and what you can do about them.
1. All types of smoke
Smoke from any source is an airway irritant and must be avoided. Avoid using wood fireplaces, incense sticks and coal grills at home. Stay away from smoky areas. If you have asthma, you must avoid exposure to cigarette smoke. Don’t allow people to smoke inside your home, office or car. If someone must smoke, they should do it outside away from doors and windows. Secondhand smoke and the smell of tobacco on clothes and upholstery can also irritate the airways. Encourage people to wash their hands well after smoking or any contact with tobacco products.
Fumes from fuel, gas, kerosene stoves, oil furnaces and vehicle exhausts can trigger asthma. Most combustion stoves produce nitrogen dioxide. It is an invisible and odorless gas, but is a potent airway irritant. Stoves and cooking areas should be properly ventilated. Use stoves according to the manufacturer’s instructions and maintain them well. Use exhaust fans or electric chimneys in kitchens. Get your furnace serviced before every heating season.
3. Household chemicals
Chemicals commonly used in homes such as detergents, soaps, cleaners and pesticides can trigger attacks in some people. Paints, polishes and lacquers that give off volatile organic compounds are also common asthma triggers. Avoid using these chemicals if you have asthma. Avoid areas where these chemicals have been used until the odor subsides. Using environment-friendly home construction products and cleaners is the best option.
Strong perfumes can trigger asthma attacks in some people. Use products with mild or no fragrance. Avoid spraying room fresheners, wearing perfumes or burning incense sticks. If you must use these products, do it when the person suffering from asthma is not at home and keep windows open during and after use.
Respiratory ailments like cold and flu is a common asthma trigger, especially in children. If you have asthma, take regular vaccinations for influenza and pneumonia. Avoid going near people suffering from cold and flu. You can also use an appropriate mask to reduce the risk of infection. Germs causing respiratory illnesses can survive on surfaces like doorknobs. If someone at home has cold or flu, wash your hands with soap several times a day and clean surfaces with a disinfectant. Dry air in winter can make the spread of these infections easier. Use a humidifier to maintain the optimum humidity.
Foods and food additives
If you are sensitive to artificial colors, flavors and food preservatives, avoid processed foods. Identify the offending chemicals and check the label carefully before deciding to consume processed foods.
If your asthma attacks get triggered due to heartburn, avoid foods that cause too much acidity. Reduce consumption of tea, coffee and fried foods. Your doctor may also prescribe medicines to keep acidity in check.
Certain drugs can trigger asthma attacks. If you suspect that you are sensitive to a particular drug, see your doctor. Your doctor will identify the problem and give you a better alternative.
Asthma is a difficult disease, but it can be controlled if you take some extra care to avoid the cause of asthma attacks. Chemicals present in many home construction products are harmful. Living in an environment-friendly home and using green products can prevent many asthma attacks. For more information, download our quick guide now https://business.facebook.com/EbenezerGreenHealthierHomes/.