Asthma Triggers

May 04, 2016
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One of the most important parts of managing asthma is limiting your exposure to potential triggers. Keeping an asthma symptom diary can help you identify your asthma triggers and give the doctor better insight into how well your treatment regimen is managing your condition. While it is not possible to avoid all asthma triggers, there are steps you can take to minimize your exposure.

Common allergens can trigger symptoms in many patients with asthma. This includes everything from cockroaches to mold and pet dander. The following can help you reduce the number of allergens in your home:

• Keep all food in sealed containers to avoid attracting cockroaches. If you do notice roaches in your home, set out bait or traps or call a professional exterminator as soon as possible. Be sure to let the exterminator know about your asthma so that they can use a spray with minimal fumes and odor.
• Keep the humidity in your home between 30 and 50 percent by using a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
• Limit dust mites by using dustproof covers on your pillows and mattress. You should also wash bedding once a week in hot water.
• Use HEPA filters in your vacuum and your central air and heating.
• Bathe pets regularly to limit dander.
• Try to keep pets out of your bedroom.
• Wash or replace shower curtains regularly to prevent mold.
• Use a bleach-based cleaner in mold-prone areas.
• Keep windows closed and use the air conditioner during the late morning and the afternoon when outdoor mold and pollen counts are the highest.
• Have your house dusted and vacuumed once to twice a week.

If your allergy symptoms are exacerbated by smoke, strong odors, or other irritants, the following steps can help you reduce your exposure:

• Avoid areas, such as department store fragrance departments, that have strong odors from perfumes and powders.
• Ask family, friends, and co-workers to avoid wearing perfumes around you.
• Avoid areas where smoking is allowed.
• Ask family and friends not to smoke around you. This can be an uncomfortable conversation; however, people should understand if you politely explain that it makes your asthma worse.
• Avoid using wood-burning stoves or fireplaces.

You should also talk to your doctor about getting an annual flu shot and avoid coming in contact with individuals with colds or the flu. Finally, it is important to consult your doctor if you notice a change in the frequency or duration of your asthma symptoms.

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Dr. Chacko and Dr. Sanjay Gupta on CNN. See the video here.