Cigarette smoke, dust, pet hairs, mold, dust mites, and roaches are just some of the many asthma triggers in homes. Besides these, an asthma attack can be triggered by other things in the house such as:
1. Central Heating
Some people will note that their asthma acts up or worsens when the indoor heating system is turned on or when it is shut off during spring. The asthma spikes are attributed to the heat, and it could be due to the increasing number of dust mites that multiply rapidly in favorably warm conditions.
Nevertheless, some researchers have found that it is hard for people without central heating in their homes to manage their asthma symptoms; this is according to Dr. Samantha Walker the Executive Director at Research and Policy of Asthma UK. The situation is dire in damp homes with no AC that for those that have the central heating because it produces dry heat.
Central heating is a vital feature in homes, especially during the cold months. It helps in maintaining an ideal warmth indoors, which is crucial for asthmatics who experience issues due to sudden temperature changes (e.g., going from a cold room into a heat one or vice versa). Moreover, central heating is a far better choice compared to relying on gas, electric, or firewood heaters to warm the house.
2. Open Fires
The use of indoor wood-burning stoves or cooking pits with open fires can trigger problems for people with asthma. The burning coal or wood produce fine particles that can be easily inhaled and cause the airways to swell. Therefore, it is essential to ensure that the flues are in working and in superb condition before lighting up the coal or wood burners. The chimneys should be cleaned regularly to facilitate the proper escape of smoke and allow the coal of wood to burn.
If your home depends on such open fires, it would be wise to carefully monitor asthma symptoms when the fires are lit during those unfavorable weathers. Also, people with asthma should book an asthma review with their nurse of general physicians when the weather starts changes so that they can be ready. They should request a review of their medications and make the necessary adjustments around the house, such as opening the vents and windows to reduce the risk posed by smoke from the open fires. Also, it will be beneficial to find ways of reducing humidity in the house thus limiting the spread of dust mites.
3. Carpets & Furniture
Carpet, shelving, and furniture manufacturers at times use a chemical called formaldehyde in their products. The same chemicals and also be found in bedding and flooring. Formaldehyde is a VOC (Volatile Organic Compound) meaning that the chemical turns into gas at room temperature.
While little evidence exists that would suggest it can trigger asthmatic issues, for most people with asthma, the smell of new furniture, flooring, beddings, or carpets worsens their symptoms. Therefore, the sensible thing to do if you are among those in this category is to limit your exposure to the chemical. Other than that, taking the following steps may also help:
• Ask the retailers to air the flooring, carpet, or shelving before delivering them to you
• Consider buying second-hand furniture; they will have lost much of the formaldehyde.
• Ensure the home or room is well aired when bringing in new carpets, bedding, or furniture.
• For bedding, avoid the synthetic types and go for those made from natural materials. For instance, featherbedding is said to pose little to no risk for people with asthma. Nevertheless, some people will experience some wheezing or other complications with their asthma when they use featherbedding.
• When moving into a house, it is advisable to check with the former tenant or owner and confirm if they had any mold issues or pets. Whichever the case, have the place professionally cleaned before moving in, and the same goes for your furniture, upholstery, and rugs.
According to Connect Cleaners, cleanliness is an integral practice that aids in lowering the risk of getting asthmatic complications. However, many of the cleaning products used today contain VOCs – from oven cleaner, and carpet cleaners, to bathroom products, air fresheners, and dry cleaning products. The risk is higher for people with asthma that use spray cleaning products compared to those that use liquid or solid products.
Even then, the smell of these cleaning products is enough to trigger the asthma symptoms. Many of the people in the cleaning profession that handle such products are at risk of developing asthma and related complications.
But since we all need to stay clean, below are some tips that may be helpful:
• Limit the use of spray cleaning products and stick to solid or liquid stuff. The spray fumes are easy to inhale, and this can exasperate the asthma symptoms. If their use is required, then ensure the windows are open and wear a mask to filter the air you breathe as you work.
• Avoid scented products if you can since they tend to have strong scents that can trigger asthmatic attacks. The unscented varieties can still do the same job and give good results.
• Consider alternative cleaning methods that reduce the need for manufacture cleaning products because they contain VOCs. For instance, warm water, a damp cloth, and organic soap can be enough to clean the upholstery and carpets. For the must-use cleaning products, ensure that you get those labeled as allergy friendly.
Just like with cleaning products, most decorations contain VOCs and exasperate asthma symptoms in some people. However, not all décor materials have such effects. If some of these products, such as glue, paint, and varnishes cause asthma flare-ups, then the following tips may be of help:
• Check the products and use those with low VOC content. Take note of the labeling on these products, such as paints, to know their VOC levels. It would be better to use water-based paints and those with a low-odor.
• Keep the windows and vents open when decorating the house.
6. Building Work And Repairs
Research has found a correlation between poor housing and asthma. Issues such as dampness, inadequate ventilation, and mold, which are synonymous with poor housing, are known to trigger asthma symptoms. Having these problems address will prove helpful.
Proper insulation is vital for maintaining room temperatures, especially during the chilly months. It not only keeps the home warm but also lowers dampness. However, some of the materials used for insulation have VOCs, and thus exposure to these insulations can make things worse for people dealing with asthma. If you have any concerns about such, inquire about the material to be used to know if it contains VOCs and if so, that the material is installed correctly and sealed.
Any building work scheduled for the house will produce dust and fumes. Therefore, if you are planning for such projects, you should check with your asthma nurse or general physician to have your medications reviewed and probably increased before you start work. Otherwise, it would be best to stay over at a relative’s or friend’s place until the building project is complete.
Know More About Asthma
Consider speaking to your general physician or asthma nurse on how you can lower the risk of asthmatic complications more so if you are uncertain of the triggers around the house that can irritate and worsen your asthma symptoms. Also, you can get more information from Asthma UK Helpline; call 0300-222-5800 and talk to an asthma specialist; they are available during the weekday
s, 9 am – 5 pm.