Keeping Asthma Attacks at Bay: Understanding Asthma Triggers
If you have a child with asthma, you know that daily life can sometimes be a real challenge. Knowing what triggers your child's asthma can help make things much easier for your child and your family. Here are some of the most common asthma triggers:
- Tobacco smoke (both second- and third-hand smoke) as well as smoke from anything that burns, like candles, incense or a fireplace
- Dust mites
- Air pollution
- Animal dander (any furry animal regardless of breed)
- Viral upper respiratory tract infections/colds
- Strong odors/fragrances (such as perfume, cleaners, paint, and air fresheners)
- Weather/season changes
- Cold air
Your child may not react the same way to all of these triggers, but you should start to keep a log of what aggravates your child's asthma. Here are some things you can do to control the triggers in the environment:
- Go smoke-free. Do not smoke — and don't let anyone else smoke — in your house or car.
- Find compatible pets. Find another nurturing home for your pets, or find a hypoallergenic pet (like a fish). If it's not possible to remove your pet from your home, keep it out of your child's bedroom.
- Keep mites undercover. Cover your child's bed (mattress, box springs and pillows) with allergy-proof casings to reduce exposure to dust mites. Wash the sheets, pillow and blanket in hot water every week. Removing carpeting and stuffed animals from your child’s room also helps.
- Banish the bugs. Exterminate your house regularly and avoid leaving out food that attracts cockroaches.
- Trash it. Take out your garbage regularly.
- Dry and disinfect. Make sure your floors (especially in the basement) are dry and free of mold. Mold occurs when there is excessive moisture in the home, usually from leaky pipes or roofs. Use bleach to control mold and to keep it from growing back.
- Clear the air. Be sure to air out your home after extermination or cleaning with bleach.
- Chill out. Use an air conditioner in your child's room and close the windows and doors during allergy season and when the pollen count is high.
- Stay in. If possible, keep your child home when the air quality is poor.
- Manage the meds. Make sure your child takes his asthma medication regularly.
Learn more about asthma and the asthma program at CHOP.
Reviewed by: Marcia Winston, RN, MSN, CPNP, AE-C
Date: June 2014