Controlling Your Asthma Triggers

Controlling Your Asthma Triggers

An important step in controlling your asthma is to reduce exposure to relevant irritants.
Effective ways to do so are discussed below.

Dust is the most common irritant

  • Damp mop and vacuum carpets once or twice weekly.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, or double bag, or install a central vacuum system with the canister in the garage or outdoors.
  • For a short period of time, avoid a just-vacuumed room or, if you have to be in that area, use a dust mask.
  • Remove dust-catchers (blinds, bookshelves, canopies, window blinds, difficult-to-launder draperies, chenille bedspreads, etc.) from the bedroom.

Control your house dust mite allergen problem

  • The dust mite has a three-week life cycle. During its life cycle, it feeds on the scale and dry skin shed by humans and animals.
  • Encasing your mattress and box springs in an impermeable cover such as a vinyl, zippered casing should help.
  • Encase pillows similarly or wash them weekly.  Feather pillows, down comforters, foam pillows or pillows more than five years old should be removed from the bedroom.
  • Wash all bedding on a weekly basis.
  • Humidifiers are not recommended. Try and keep the humidity below 50%; mites reproduce much faster with humidity over 60% and temperature over 60º.
  • Avoid sleeping on upholstered furniture.
  • REMEMBER, vacuuming removes mite allergen from carpets, but it is inefficient at removing live mites.

Animal allergens

  • All warm-blooded pets, including rodents and small birds, produce dander, urine, feces, and saliva that can cause allergic reactions.
  • To control animal antigens you may need to remove the animal or products made with fur/feathers from the home. If removing the pet is unacceptable, keep the pet out of the bedroom.
  • Weekly washing (without soap) of your pet may help reduce the amount of dander and dried saliva.

Indoor fungi

  • This problem is prominent in a humid environment (under sinks, in shower stalls, in refrigerators, and on live houseplants) or homes with a dampness problem.
  • It is important not to sleep in a basement bedroom.
  • Dehumidifiers are helpful, as is mildew-control spray.

Outdoor allergens/Polution

  • Use air conditioning in warm weather.
  • Avoid exertion or exercise outdoors when possible during high levels of respirable particulates, pollution, or when ozone levels are high.


  • Asthma patients should not smoke or be exposed to environmental tobacco smoke or leaf burning. You should also avoid exposure to fumes from unvented gas, oil, kerosene stoves, wood-burning appliances or fireplaces.
  • Household sprays (hair spray, deodorants, cleaners, paints, incense, etc.) can also precipitate asthma symptoms.

Medication sensitivity

  • Some people with asthma experience serious exacerbation of their symptoms when they use aspirin or other nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (e.g., ibuprofen, naproxen).

Food sensitivity

  • You may want to avoid products that could possibly contain the preservative sulfite. Some of these products are: processed potatoes, pickled foods, shrimp, dried fruit, beer, or wine.


  • Viral respiratory infection can exacerbate asthma. Annual influenza vaccination is recommended for anyone with persistent asthma.


  • Asthma symptoms are commonly associated with persistent nasal congestion, as inflammation of the upper airway contributes to lower airway hyperresponsiveness. Medical treatment of the nasal symptoms lasting more than two weeks, whether from irritants, allergies, or sinus infection, may result in improved asthma control.
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