Asthma is one of the most common chronic conditions of the respiratory tract, which affects both kids and adults. While environmental exposure does play a key role in increasing your risk of asthma attack, staying at home can also worsen the condition as it is the place where the numerous triggers lie. According to a 2010 study published in the journal Pediatric Allergy, Immunology, and Pulmonology, exposure to indoor allergens is widespread, with >92% of homes containing sufficient concentrations of at least 1 allergen in the dust to cause symptoms in people who are prone to allergic asthma.
In addition to allergens, other indoor asthma triggers which can contribute to indoor air pollution include tobacco smoke, nitrogen oxides from combustion devices, and irritants from volatile organic compounds and cooking, and fungi. Moreover, our respiratory system works at a much higher intensity when we are asleep. There is also a higher risk of indoor pollution while sleeping, which in turn can trigger asthma. Hence, it is extremely important to ensure a healthy sleep to protect yourself from asthma.
What Are The Common Indoor Asthma Triggers?
Asthma can be triggered by the exposure to certain allergens in the household which can range from cooking odors to pets and molds. Hence, avoiding the triggers is the first measure to prevent the appearance or the worsening of the symptoms of asthma. But to prevent the triggers, you need to know the triggers.
Here are some of the common indoor allergens and irritants that can trigger asthma[2,3].
-Fumes from gas stoves
-Cigarette smoke (active and passive smoking)
-Pets (hair, skin, fur, feathers, and saliva).
Additionally, exposure to excessive moisture and dampness, poor or inadequately maintained ventilation system, pest infestations, and deteriorated carpeting can all contribute to indoor air pollution, which in turn can trigger asthma.
Tips To Prevent Asthma Triggers At Home
Indoor air pollutants not only lead to poor air quality but also trigger an allergic response which can worsen asthma. So to prevent asthma triggers at home, it is important to improve air quality indoors. According to the US National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute’s “Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma” here are some of the tips to improve air quality and prevent asthma.
1. Vacuum carpets once or twice a week to reduce the accumulation of dust indoors. People who are sensitive to household dust should avoid using a carpet as it might trigger an allergic response and worsen the condition. If you are using one, then ensure to use a dust mask and a cleaner fitted with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter bag while cleaning carpets.
2. Use indoor air cleaning devices such as an air purifier to improve the air quality indoors and lower the risk of asthma attacks. Do check if the air purifier has HEPA filters as it helps in clearing out particulate matter such as PM10, PM2.5, etc from the air and provide you with clean, fresh air to breathe. Air cleaning devices have also shown to reduce pet fur and hair, mold spores and particulate tobacco smoke thereby helping you to reduce exposure to indoor air pollutants.
3. Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50% as mold spores need a relative humidity of more than 65% and a temperature of around 30 degree Celsius to grow. You can use a dehumidifier to reduce house-dust mite levels in areas where the humidity of the outside air remains high for most of the year. Mold can be found in any moist, dark place indoors. Avoid use of a humidifier as it can encourage the growth of both mold and house-dust mites which are known allergens. Moreover, people with asthma can also use air conditioners during warm weather as it allows windows and doors to stay closed, thus preventing entry of outdoor allergens along with reducing the humidity level indoors.
4. Keep your home clean, clutter-free and dust-free, especially your bedrooms. You can use a mop or vacuum cleaner instead of a broom to clean your home. Choose a bed-encasing for mattress and pillows and do wash bedding weekly in hot water. Discard old bedding, clothing, and books. Cover garbage bins, remove clutter and seal holes or cracks in the home to prevent entry of cockroaches and other pests. Remove pet from bedrooms and everywhere the child spends a lot of time. Also, remove stuffed toys and pets (if allergic) from the bedroom. Clean accurately upholstered furniture, walls, and carpet and repair water leaks to prevent mold.
This article is sponsored by Honeywell Air Purifiers.
1. Krieger J. Home is Where the Triggers Are: Increasing Asthma Control by Improving the Home Environment. Pediatr Allergy Immunol Pulmonol. 2010 Jun;23(2):139-145. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3281289/
2. National Asthma Education and Prevention Program: Expert panel report III: Guidelines for the diagnosis and management of asthma. Bethesda, MD: National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, 2007. (NIH publication no. 08-4051) https://www.nhlbi.nih.gov/files/docs/guidelines/asthgdln.pdf
3. Cipriani F, Calamelli E, Ricci G. Allergen Avoidance in Allergic Asthma. Front Pediatr. 2017;5:103. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5423906/
4. Informed Health Online. Cologne, Germany: Institute for Quality and Efficiency in Health Care (IQWiG); 2006. Asthma: Overview. 2008 Jan 14 [Updated 2017 Nov 30]. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279520/