While every person with asthma will react differently to environmental triggers, there are some things that commonly cause asthma flair ups in the home and work environments. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following triggers are the most common, and in some cases, the easiest to avoid:
- Tobacco Smoke- People with asthma are more susceptible to problems associated with smoking and second hand smoke. Avoid social situations where smokers gather, and quit smoking if you or someone in your home is diagnosed with asthma.
- Dust mites- Dust mites are tiny bugs that can be found in nearly every home. To prevent attacks from dust mites, invest in mattress covers and pillowcase covers to put a barrier between bedding and mites. For kids, avoiding stuffed animals, quilts, comforters and down filled pillows can also help. Wash bedding with hot water regularly.
- Cockroaches- Cockroaches can be a serious nuciance in our area. Cockroaches and their droppings are a very common allergen that triggers asthma attacks. If you have cockroaches in your home, vacuum and sweep every 2-3 days and seek the help of a professional pest control company, but be sure to inform them that someone in your home has asthma so they can avoid harsh chemicals that may irritate the lungs.
- Pets- Pet dander is a common trigger of asthma attacks, but unless the reaction is severe getting rid of the pet is not usually needed. Instead, bathe pets at least once per week and let them outside as much as possible. Vacuum, sweep and dust regularly, and if you have hardwood or tile floors, don’t forget to mop.
- Mold- Mold is a common problem in warm weather climates, and often hard to pinpoint because it grows in dark, damp places that we typically don’t see. The best way to combat and prevent mold is to keep humidity levels in the home under 50%. A small tool called a hygrometer can test the humidity levels in your home, and running your home’s air conditioning will often help keep those levels under control.
Ramie Tritt, MD, President, Atlanta ENT