Understand the Causes of Asthma
One in nine Americans suffers from asthma. Asthma causes the airways of the lungs to swell and narrow, leading to wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing. The lungs of asthma sufferers are sensitive to dust particles called triggers or allergens. Triggers cause asthma attacks.
Asthma has no cure, so prevention is very important. Asthma attacks cause one-quarter of all emergency-room visits. Asthma and allergies are signs that a home that allergens and asthma triggers are present in the home. Allergen triggers lead to asthma attacks and emergency-room visits.
The most potent causes of asthma and asthma attacks are these triggers.
- Dust mites
- Tobacco smoke and other smoke
- Mold spores
- Dogs and cats
- Outdoor-air pollution
Dust mites, mold, and cockroaches need high humidity and wetness to prosper. The highest concentrations of dust mites live on bedding. Mold thrives in bathrooms, kitchens, and other wet areas. These pests prosper less in dry climates and dry homes than in humid climates and wet homes. Cockroaches and mice enter the building through cracks and holes in the building’s exterior. Cockroaches and mice need a food source, and they thrive where residents are careless about food storage, dish washing, and house cleaning.
Eliminate Asthma Triggers
To eliminate asthma triggers, you must eliminate the sources of asthma triggers. Asthma triggers are mold spores or materials from the skin or feces of dust mites, cockroaches, mice, and pets. If being away from home reduces the symptoms of asthma and allergies, then the home is probably triggering asthma attacks or allergic reactions. Consider these suggestions to reduce asthma triggers and allergens in the home.
- Reduce the home’s humidity and eliminate wetness. Inspect crawl spaces, gutters, downspouts, basements, bathrooms, and kitchens. Use a dehumidifier if necessary.
- Wash sheets in hot water frequently, and enclose mattresses in plastic covers to hinder dust mites.
- Clean the home thoroughly, and keep it clean. Even if you eliminate the source of asthma triggers, you must still clean up of the existing dust. Remove dust with a HEPA vacuum and wet mop. Conventional vacuums spread dust particles during vacuuming. A HEPA vacuum uses a very effective filter to trap all asthma triggers.
- Use bait to poison the cockroaches. Obey the bait manufacturer’s instructions. Keep children and pets away from the bait. Bait creates less poisoning hazard than spraying.
- To reduce mice, trap them. Look for holes in your building and seal them.
Occupants may have to make a difficult choice between removing pets from the home and allowing the pets to trigger the asthma of a sensitive family member.
Go to Asthma Facts for more information. The information above is based on Residential Energy: Cost Savings and Comfort for Existing Buildings, 7th edition, available at our website. The