Is there anything I can do to help avoid asthma attacks?
You can help avoid asthma attacks by avoiding the triggers (also called allergens) and irritants that can start an asthma attack. Triggers and irritants vary for each individual, but the following are some examples of common triggers and irritants:
- Air pollution
- Tobacco smoke
- Pet dander
- Changes in temperature
- Certain foods
- Sulfite (food preservative in red wine, beer, salad bars, dehydrated soups, and other foods)
- Aspirin, or ibuprofen (brand names: Advil, Motrin, Nuprin)
- Sinus infections
- Strong emotions (such as crying or laughing)
- Spray-on deodorants
How do I avoid common asthma triggers?
If pollen and mold cause your symptoms, use your air conditioner and try to keep the windows of your home and car closed. Change the filter on your heating and cooling system frequently.
To keep mold down, clean and air out bathrooms, kitchens and basements often. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep the level of humidity less than 50%.
People who are allergic to dust are actually allergic to the droppings of dust mites. To reduce dust mites in your home, wash bed sheets weekly in hot water (above 130°F). Cover mattresses and pillows in airtight covers, and remove carpets and drapes. If you must have carpet, you can treat it with chemicals to help reduce dust mites. Try to avoid stuffed animals, dried flowers and other things that trap dust.
Pets can cause problems if you are allergic to them. If you have a pet, keep it out of your bedroom.
Don't allow smoking in your house or car. Tobacco smoke can make asthma worse.
Some information adapted from "What you and your family can do about asthma," a patient information booklet published by the Global Initiative for Asthma, a joint effort of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the World Health Organization. This and other publications are available through the Internet (http://www.ginasthma.com).
Written by familydoctor.org editorial staff