Navigate Up

Heart Center - A-Z Index

#
J
Q
X
Z

Print This Page

Stay away from asthma triggers

It is important to know what things make your asthma worse. These are called asthma "triggers." Avoiding them is your first step toward feeling better.

Our homes can be filled with asthma triggers, found within

  • The air we breathe
  • Furniture and carpets
  • Our pets

Stay away from smoking

If you smoke, ask your doctor or nurse to help you quit. No one should smoke in your house. This includes you and your visitors.

Smokers should smoke outside and wear a coat. The coat will keep smoke particles from sticking to their clothes. They should leave the coat outside, or away from your child.

Ask people who work at your child's day care, preschool, school, and anyone else who takes care of your child, if they smoke. If they do, make sure they don't smoke near your child.

Stay away from restaurants and bars that allow smoking. Or ask for a table as far away from smokers as possible.

Pollen

When pollen levels are high:

  • Stay indoors and keep doors and windows closed. Use an air conditioner if you have one.
  • Save outside activities for late afternoon or after a heavy rain.
  • Wear a facemask while you are doing outdoor activities.
  • Do not dry clothes outdoors. Pollen will stick to them. Have someone who does not have asthma cut the grass, or wear a facemask if you must do it.

Dust mites

You can take several steps to limit exposure to dust mites .

  • Wrap mattresses, box springs, and pillows in mite-proof covers.
  • Wash bedding and pillows once a week in hot water (130°F to 140°F).
  • If you can, get rid of upholstered furniture. Use wooden, leather, or vinyl furniture instead.
  • Keep indoor air dry. Try to keep the humidity level lower than 50%.
  • Wipe away dust with a damp cloth and vacuum once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
  • Replace wall-to-wall carpet with wood or other hard flooring.
  • Keep stuffed toys off the beds, and wash them weekly.
  • Replace slatted blinds and cloth draperies with pull-down shades. They will not collect as much dust.
  • Keep closets clean and closet doors closed.

Mold spores

Keeping indoor humidity at less than 50% will keep mold spores down. To do so:

  • Keep sinks and tubs dry and clean.
  • Fix leaky pipes.
  • Empty and wash refrigerator trays that collect water from the freezer.
  • Defrost your refrigerator often.
  • Use an exhaust fan in the bathroom when you are showering.
  • Do not let damp clothes sit in a basket or hamper.
  • Clean or replace shower curtains when you see mold on them.
  • Check your basement for moisture and mold.
  • Use a dehumidifier to keep the air dry.

Pets can make asthma worse

Keep pets with fur or feathers outside, if possible. If pets stay inside, keep them out of bedrooms and off upholstered furniture and carpets.

Wash pets once a week if possible.

If you have a central air conditioning system, use a HEPA filter to remove pet allergens from indoor air. Use a vacuum cleaner with HEPA filters.

Wash your hands and change your clothes after playing with your pet.

Roaches and rodents

Keep kitchen counters clean and free of food crumbs. Do not leave dirty dishes in the sink. Keep food in closed containers.

Do not let trash pile up inside. This includes bags, newspapers, and cardboard boxes.

Use roach traps. Wear a dust mask and gloves if you touch or are near rodents.

Other triggers to watch out for

Do not use wood-burning fireplaces. If you need to burn wood, use an airtight wood-burning stove.

Do not use perfumes or scented cleaning sprays. Use trigger sprays instead of aerosols.

Discuss any other possible triggers with your doctor and how to avoid them.

References

National Asthma Education and Prevention Program Expert Panel Report 3: Guidelines for the Diagnosis and Management of Asthma. Rockville, MD. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, US Dept of Health and Human Services; 2007. NIH publications 08-4051.

Vernon MK. What do we know about asthma triggers? A review of the literature. J Asthma. 2012;49:991-998.

Updated: 4/26/2014

Denis Hadjiliadis, MD, Associate Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary, Allergy, and Critical Care, Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Isla Ogilvie, PhD, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.


©  UPMC | Affiliated with the University of Pittsburgh Schools of the Health Sciences
Supplemental content provided by A.D.A.M. Health Solutions. All rights reserved.

For help in finding a doctor or health service that suits your needs, call the UPMC Referral Service at 412-647-UPMC (8762) or 1-800-533-UPMC (8762). Select option 1.

UPMC is an equal opportunity employer. UPMC policy prohibits discrimination or harassment on the basis of race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, age, sex, genetics, sexual orientation, marital status, familial status, disability, veteran status, or any other legally protected group status. Further, UPMC will continue to support and promote equal employment opportunity, human dignity, and racial, ethnic, and cultural diversity. This policy applies to admissions, employment, and access to and treatment in UPMC programs and activities. This commitment is made by UPMC in accordance with federal, state, and/or local laws and regulations.

Medical information made available on UPMC.com is not intended to be used as a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. You should not rely entirely on this information for your health care needs. Ask your own doctor or health care provider any specific medical questions that you have. Further, UPMC.com is not a tool to be used in the case of an emergency. If an emergency arises, you should seek appropriate emergency medical services.

For UPMC Mercy Patients: As a Catholic hospital, UPMC Mercy abides by the Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, as determined by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. As such, UPMC Mercy neither endorses nor provides medical practices and/or procedures that contradict the moral teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.

© UPMC
Pittsburgh, PA, USA UPMC.com