How to control asthma triggers  



How to control asthma triggers


If you have asthma, then many of the things present normally near you can trigger asthma attack. Each person has different trigger. A trigger is anything that irritates the airways and set of the symptoms of asthma. Here are common triggers and action you can take to control them. By controlling the triggers, your asthma is controlled better, as there are fewer attacks and exacerbations.

You must know what makes your asthma worse for better asthma control.

Bed room is a place where you spend a lot of time, controlling triggers present in bedroom is very important part of "trigger control." This article contains things you can do throughout your home and outside to minimize your exposure to substances that trigger asthma attack.


House dust mites are the important cause of asthma attacks. They may be found in soft toys, curtains, clothing, bedding, mattresses, box springs carpets, and upholstered furniture. They feed on dead skin which we shed. The excreta of house dust mite are the cause of allergy. Actions to take:

  • Put your mattresses, pillows and box springs in an airtight allergy free covers.

  • Wash pillow once a week, every week in hot water (54.4oC or 130 oF) if no covers are used. Dry cleaning is also effective in killing house dust mites.

  • Carpets which are placed on concrete should be removed.

  • Bed covers and cloths should be washed in hot water (130 oF) once a week.

  • Sleeping or lying on upholstered furniture should be avoided.

  • Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50%. Use a dehumidifier if possible.

  • Carpets must be removed from the bedroom. If you cannot remove the carpets use short pile carpets instead of long pile carpets. Use vacuuming frequently with HEPA air filter equipped vacuum cleaner. Avoid been present in the room during cleaning process.

If you have to vacuum then take following precautions:

  1. Use a dust mask

  2. Use a central vacuum cleaner with collection bag outside the home.

  3. Use a powerful vacuum cleaner with HEPA filter.

Shampoo, steam clean or beat non-washable carpets once a year. This removes large particles missed by the vacuum cleaner.
Use chemical agents to kill mites.
Tannic acid, a protein denaturing agent commonly found in tea, has been shown to reduce allergen levels in house dust, but it does not eliminate mites.

Read more about house dust mite >>>

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DUST (including house dust)

People who are allergic to dust must take measures to avoid build up of dust. Vacuum cleaner should be used as advised earlier.
Some of the dusts catching items in the room are windows, curtains, frames, tabletop ornaments, piles of books and magazines, cabinet top, child’s toys and plastic bins used for storage of toys. The quantity of such items must be eliminated or reduced in the room.
Closed storage must be used as much as possible.
Curtains and window coverings must be of washable material and less dust catching type.
Blinds must be used instead of curtains as they can be cleaned easily with wet cloth
or vacuuming. Vertical blinds are better than horizontal blinds as later can catch lot of dust.

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Molds are fungi that grow best in warm humid areas. Molds can be found outside, in shady, damp areas and on decaying leaves. Molds can also be found in the home in areas of high humidity such as bathrooms, kitchen and basements.

  • Bathrooms, kitchen and basement must be well aired. There should be no damp wall in the room. Pipe fittings must be checked for leakage and anti dampness treatment for walls must be done.

  • Bathroom, kitchen and basement must be cleaned regularly.

  • Dehumidifiers must be used for damp areas of the basement. Humidity levels must be set in between 25 % to 50 %. Dehumidifier water tray must be empty and cleaned regularly.

  • Do not use humidifiers.

  • Enamel paint inhibits mold growth more effectively than latex paint. An antifungal substance can be added to paints to inhibit growth even more.

  • Foam pillows and mattresses can be sites for mold growth. Replace foam pillows with washable polyester ones, and cover foam mattresses with a nonporous covering (for example, plastic).

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Use of kerosene heaters or wood burning stoves at home must be avoided.
Chimneys should be used if it's unavoidable. Place should be cross ventilated so that smoke doesn't accumulate there.


  • Avoid perfume and perfumed cosmetics like hair sprays, talcum powder, deodorants.

  • Do not use perfumed washing powders and other household cleaning products.

  • Room deodorants and sprays must not be used.

  • Perfumed mosquito repellants (e.g. goodnight) and mosquito repellent candles must not be used.

  • Kitchen must be well aerated and must have exhaust fan and electronic chimney.

  • Patients should not stay when their house is being painted and until the paint has dried.

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  • Smoking in any form be it cigarette, cigar, bidi etc. should be strictly prohibited in the house.

  • Person with asthma must stop smoking at all cost. Even passive smoking is harmful.

  • It has been well documented that child of smoking mothers suffer from more asthma than of non smoking mothers.

  • Asthmatic children who live with smoking parents suffer from more severe asthma and have more frequent emergency room visit due to acute asthma attacks.

Click > COPD < to go to COPD Questioner and know if you are suffering from COPD.


Cockroaches are one of important allergens. Both male and female Cockroaches produce different allergens. Both cockroach fecal extracts and whole body extracts are associated with positive skin tests, and it has been concluded that fecal matter may be the most medically significant allergen.

  • Use cockroach traps. Use baits and traps, gels, and boric acid powder in places where cockroaches live and hide, out of reach of children.

  • If volatile chemical agents (e.g. sprays) are used, the home should be well ventilated, and the person who has asthma should not return to the home until the odor has dissipated.

  • Boric acid indoors can reduce cockroach numbers.

  • Tannic acid works to denature cockroach antigens, but does not kill the roaches themselves.

  • Food should not lie open in the house, use airtight containers for storing food items.

  • Seal hiding places like holes and cracks in walls, along baseboards, pipes, windows, and doors with caulk or putty.

  • Remove source of water repair leaks, wipe up spills and keep surfaces dry.

  • Clean up soon after eating, and clean the pet’s dish too if you have one.

  • Empty trash cans regularly.

  • If nothing works then you should call a professional exterminator.

  • Mouse allergen exposure can be reduced by a combination of blocking access, low-toxicity pesticides, traps, and vacuuming and cleaning.

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Warm blooded animals like cats, dogs, rodents and birds all can make asthma worse. The proteins present in the scales, flakes, hairs, urine and dried saliva are the main cause of allergy.

  • Best remedy is to remove the pet from the house. But if this cannot be done due to emotional reasons the following measures must be taken to reduce exposure.

  • Pets must be kept out of bed room; they should not sleep with you in the bedroom.

  • Wash the pet once a week every week.

  • Visit to friends and relatives who have pets with furs and feathers must be avoided.

  • If there is forced air heating in the room, then close the air vents of your bedroom.

  • Products made of furs and feathers, kapok cotton, must be avoided. These include fur cotes, pillows, beddings and furniture.

  • If you want to have a pet chose pet without fur and feathers like fish.

  • When you visit a place where animals or birds with furs and feathers are present, take reliever medication at least 15 minutes before visit.

  • Cat allergens persist for months after the cat has been removed from the home.

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Pollens are small particles produced from flowers of grass, ragweed, or trees that can cause seasonal problems.

  • Use air conditioners at home and in office especially in the season when pollen and moulds are higher.

  • Keep windows closed during pollen season

  • Avoid going outdoor during afternoon and mid day when amount of pollens in air are highest.

  • Wash hairs in the night before sleep if you have gone outdoors in pollen season to wash away the pollens.

  • Avoid freshly cut grass. A person with pollen allergy should not mow the lawn.

  • Special “Nasal filters” can be used to reduce pollen inhalation.

  • Avoid contact with decomposing organic material like wet, dead leaves.

  • Stay away from standing water, gardens, if you have mould allergy.

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  • Exercise can make the asthma worse in many asthmatics. But exercise must not be avoided.

  • Swimming is the most asthma friendly exercise.

  • Work with your doctor to formulate a plan.

  • Take short acting beta adrenergic inhaled medication at least 15 minutes before exercise. If you exercise daily and for long hours, then long acting beta adrenergic agents are preferred. Leukotriene inhibitors can also be taken.

  • Warm up before exercising and cool down afterwards.

  • Avoid exercise in very cold or hot weather.

  • Take with you short acting beta adrenergic inhaler when you exercise outdoor. Click on > Exercise induced asthma < to read more.

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  • Avoid exposure to cold air. Wear scarf over your nose and mouth in cold weather.

  • Avoid sudden changes in temperature, like going outside from a air-conditioned room in summers.


While many asthma attacks suffered by children are caused by viral infections, they are more serious if the child has been exposed to traffic pollution. Exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2) from vehicles exacerbates the attacks. It drops the lung function and increases the symptoms after a virus infection up to 200%.

  • Stay indoors if air pollution is high or it's "ozone alert day”.

  • Drive car with windows closed.

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Gastro esophageal reflux disease (GERD)

Gastroesophageal reflux disorder diseases is a disorder in which the acid contents of the stomach enter the lower part of food pipe (esophagus). This may cause the asthma to worsen. Acidity and heart burn also worsen asthma. Tell your doctor about the problem for which he will prescribe corrective medication.

  • Take influenza vaccination (flu shots) if you have not taken yet.

  • Take nutritious food.

  • Don’t be afraid to exercise.

  • Yoga like ‘pranayam’ can also help.

  • If you have sinusitis, have it treated promptly.

  • Avoid close contact with people having cold and flu. Wash your hands after shaking hands with these people.

  • Don’t over exert yourself, take proper rest and sleep.

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 Gastro esophageal reflux  disease (GERD):

Last edited 22-11-2009