By Jim Gates, CAFS
Asthma sufferers often find that an important key to improving their asthma symptoms is to reduce or eliminate the asthma triggers found in their environment. There are a number of different environmental triggers for asthma symptoms. Some people react to just one trigger while others find that there are several triggers that make their asthma more severe. It is important to be able to identify these asthma triggers and to learn how to reduce their effects on your life. Here are three of the most common.
1. Secondhand Smoke
Secondhand smoke is one of the worst asthma triggers encountered because of the number of harmful chemicals and air pollutants released in the smoke. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (http://www.epa.gov/iaq/pubs/insidestory.html), secondhand smoke contains more than 4,000 different compounds, including several agents suspected of contributing to the development of cancer. The compounds in secondhand smoke can trigger episodes of asthma and increase the severity of attacks.
To reduce the effects of secondhand smoke on asthma sufferers, it is important to limit the amount of secondhand smoke in indoor areas. Eliminate smoking indoors and prevent people from smoking around the doors and windows of the building. You should also install a high quality air filter in the HVAC system of the building to trap any smoke particles that enter the building.
2. Dust Mites
Dust mites are tiny insects that feed on human skin and live in fabric items in the home, such as couches, pillows, mattresses, clothes, and stuffed toys. Although they are too small to see with the naked eye, they can have a large effect on asthma sufferers. Parts of the dead insects and their droppings can be inhaled by asthma sufferers, triggering an attack and increasing the severity of the symptoms.
The issues caused by dust mites can be reduced by taking a few steps to prevent their levels from becoming too high.
- Washing bedding and pillows in hot water at least once a week will kill dust mites and remove their droppings from the items.
- Carpets and furniture should be vacuumed thoroughly every week.
- You may also want to consider dust proof covers for mattresses, pillows, and furniture items to prevent dust mites from living in them.
Mold is a tiny fungus that lives and feeds on decaying plant and animal matter. Anywhere that moisture is present can be a good environment for mold growth and the molds release tiny spores into the air to reproduce. Pieces of mold and their tiny spores can travel through a building on the air currents, causing asthma attacks and making the suffering more severe.
Controlling the mold in a building can be accomplished by controlling the humidity using the HVAC system of the building and a dehumidifier. All molds seen on hard surfaces should be cleaned up immediately using soap and water or a commercial cleaning product for mold. A high quality air filter can remove particles of mold and mold spores from the air as it travels through the filter, making the building more comfortable for asthma sufferers.
About the Author
Jim Gates, CAFS, is the brand manager for Quality Filters, Inc. (http://qualityfilters.com), a leading manufacturer and distributor of high quality home and commercial air filters. The company’s products are available online at BuyFilters.com (http://buyfilters.com).