Asthma is a chronic disease of the airways. The airway’s smooth muscle contracts when exposed to “triggers” such as allergens, irritants,
physical exertion, or stress and a thick mucus clogs the airways making breathing difficult.Asthma is such a complex disease that after 40 years of research, scientists still don’t know
how it is caused. However, a skin prick test will confirm which allergens will trigger your
asthma and you can then take steps to avoid those triggers. Although many external factors
such as air pollution, thunderstorms and pollens are prime triggers for some people, many of the
most common asthma triggers are actually in the home. But you can make your home asthma
friendly, which will enable you to better control your asthma and enjoy a full and active life.
Stop mould growing on shower curtains, bathtubs, basins and tiles.
* Remove with soap and water.
* Use exhaust fans or open a window when showering, cooking or washing dishes.
* Fix leaks as soon as possible.
* Dry wet items within one to two days to avoid mould.
Insects and mites
Eradicate dust mites, microscopic bugs that live in sheets, blankets, pillows, mattresses,
soft furniture, carpets and stuffed toys. They thrive in hot, humid conditions.
* Fit your bed, mattress and pillows with dust-proof cover (encasings) and wash every
* Don’t use sheepskins under bedding as they are prime harbour for mites.
* Synthetic bedding has higher levels of mites – replace with natural materials if possible.
* Wash bedding once a week in hot water over 55*C.
* Replace soft toys with plastic or wood or wash weekly.
* Vacuum carpets, rugs and furniture weekly using a vacuum with high suction and HEPA filter
(high efficiency particle air filter) which removes miniscule dust and mites. Choose a model
with double bag to avoid dispersing dust in the atmosphere.
* Replace carpets with hard flooring.
* Fit venetian or flat blinds rather than curtains.
* Reduce humidity – keep house dry and well-ventilated.
* Avoid sprays, dehumidifiers and air clearing devices. Cockroach body parts and droppings may
also trigger asthma attacks.
* Keep counters, sinks, tables, and floors clean.
* Clean dishes, crumbs, and spills.
* Store food in air tight containers.
* Cover rubbish bins securely.
It isn’t just creepy crawlies that can trigger your asthma. Family pets’ urine, saliva, or dander,
the dead skin that gets caught in their body hair, can also be asthma triggers.
* Keep pets outside if possible.
* Keep them out of the bedroom and off the furniture.
* Vacuum carpets and furniture often.
Tobacco smoke from the burning and of a cigarette, pipe or cigar and second-hand smoke
breathed out by a smoker and wood smoke are all amongst the worst asthma triggers.
* Never smoke in your home. Smoke outside.
* Never smoke near children. Regular exposure to tobacco smoke significantly increases
the probability of childhood asthma.
If you have a wood-burning heater, choose another form of heating. It is a little-known
fact that wood smoke is more dangerous than pollution from a car exhaust. The ultra-fine
pollution particles lodge themselves in the respiratory tracts.
* If you choose gas, make sure there is a flue to filter harmful vapours outside your home.
During bushfire season, be aware of the days when hazard reduction burns are taking
place. If there is a bushfire:
- Stay low to the ground and wear a face mask covering your nose and mouth if exposed
- Use your preventer medication as prescribed and ensure you have plenty of reliever
medication on you at all times.
- If your reliever medication isn’t reducing your asthma symptoms, seek medical attention
- After the fire, damp down dry dusty areas before doing a clean-up and wear a face mask.