Asthma-Safe Homes

Asthma-Safe Homes

You want to feel good in your own home, right? If you have asthma, you can take steps to remove or minimize triggers at home. That way, they're not as likely to cause breathing problems and asthma flare-ups.

What Are Triggers?

Triggers are the things that can make your asthma worse — like pollen, mold, dust mites, and cigarette smoke. Triggers are usually harmless to people who don't have asthma. But if you do have asthma, they can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath.

People with asthma always have some swelling or irritation in their airways. Coming in contact with triggers can make this problem worse.

Asthma Triggers at Home

Because triggers are different for each person, you'll work with your doctor to figure out yours. If you think an allergy is triggering your asthma, talk to your doctor about getting allergy testing to find out what you might be allergic to.

Once you know what's making your asthma worse, you can work to get rid of that stuff at home. What you need to do depends on your triggers. Some people are affected only by animal dander. Others might have several triggers. It may take some time to figure out all your triggers and what to do about them.

The Air Indoors

The air in your house could contain irritants like tobacco or wood smoke, perfumes, aerosol sprays, cleaning products, and fumes from paint or cooking gas. All of these can trigger asthma flare-ups. Even scented candles are triggers for some people with asthma.

Air pollution, outdoor mold, and pollen are also common triggers that can travel inside, especially if you leave your windows and doors open in warmer weather.

To improve your air quality at home:

Dealing With Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live in dust. There are lots of them in upholstered furniture, on some kinds of bedding, and in rugs. The highest number of dust mites in the home is usually found in bedrooms.

You won't be able to completely get rid of dust mites. But you can try these tips to reduce your contact with them:

Minimizing Mold

Molds are microscopic living things that are kind of like plants. They can grow on many surfaces and do especially well in damp places like bathrooms and basements. Molds reproduce by sending spores into the air. When people with asthma breathe these in, it can trigger breathing problems.

The key to controlling mold in your home is keeping things as dry as possible:

Coping With Cockroaches and Animals

Animal allergies are caused by a specific protein found in the animal's dander, saliva, urine, or feathers. Animal hair itself does not cause allergies, but it can collect dust mites, pollen, and mold. The droppings of animals that live in cages (like birds or gerbils) can attract mold and dust.

Pets aren't the only allergy-causing creatures at home: Cockroaches are a major asthma trigger that can be difficult to avoid in apartments.

If you have a pet and you're allergic to it, your best bet is to find it a good home somewhere else. Of course, that's not possible for some people. If that's the case for you, try taking these steps:

Fish aren't as cuddly as puppies and kittens, but they're OK pets for people with asthma.

If cockroaches are a problem:

Trigger Happy

It can seem overwhelming to make your home trigger free, especially if you have lots of triggers. Here are five steps to take to begin:

  1. Put mattress covers on your bed.
  2. Get rid of carpeting.
  3. Reduce dust.
  4. Get rid of any pest infestations.
  5. Ban tobacco smoke.

Reviewed by: Elana Pearl Ben-Joseph, MD
Date reviewed: January 2014





Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.

© 1995-2014 The Nemours Foundation/KidsHealth. All rights reserved.





Bookmark and Share

Related Resources
OrganizationAmerican Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology offers up-to-date information and a find-an-allergist search tool.
OrganizationAmerican Lung Association The mission of this group is to prevent lung disease and promote lung health. Contact the group at: American Lung Association
61 Broadway, 6th Floor
NY, NY 10006
(212) 315-8700
Web SiteAIRNow A cross-agency U.S. government website, AIRNow provides useful air quality information, including daily Air Quality Index forecasts and details on conditions in more than 300 U.S. cities.
Related Articles
Dealing With Asthma Triggers Triggers are substances or activities that are harmless to most people. But in people with asthma, they can lead to coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. Read this article for tips on dealing with asthma triggers.
Smoking and Asthma If you have asthma, you probably know that smoking is risky because of how it affects the lungs. But did you know that secondhand smoke is also an asthma trigger?
How Do Asthma Medicines Work? Two different types of medicines are used to treat asthma: rescue medications and controller medications. Read about their benefits - and differences.
How Can I Deal With My Asthma? Asthma is more common these days than it used to be. The good news is it's also a lot easier to manage and control.
Asthma Center Visit our Asthma Center for information and advice on managing and living with asthma.
Asthma Millions of teens in the United States have asthma, a lung condition that causes difficulty breathing. Here are the basics on symptoms, triggers, and treatments.
Dealing With an Asthma Flare-Up Asthma flare-ups, or attacks, can be handled, but it's even better if you can prevent them from happening. Find out how to deal with flare-ups.
If I Have Asthma, Can I Keep My Pet? If you have asthma, you're more likely to be allergic to a pet than someone who doesn't have asthma. Find out what you can do if you're allergic to your pet.
Do Allergies Cause Asthma? Some things that cause an allergic reaction, such as pollen or dust, can also trigger asthma symptoms. But not everyone who has allergies develops asthma and not all case of asthma are related to allergies. Find out about the connection here.
iGrow iGrow
Sign up for our parent enewsletter