Make life with allergic asthma a little easier by avoiding the things you're allergic to. Sound like common sense? Sure it does. Unfortunately, trying to put this advice into practice in your everyday life is not always practical. For example, in order to completely avoid ragweed pollen, you couldn't go outdoors from August to November. There are, however, a few steps you can take that are more realistic and can be very helpful.
To help lessen the allergic reactions that cause your asthma symptoms, familiarize yourself with the following strategies for avoiding allergens from cockroaches, dust mites , mold spores and pet dander .
- Limit where you eat to avoid spreading food and crumbs around the house and always keep food out of bedrooms.
- Never leave food out—keep all food and garbage in closed containers.
- Wash the kitchen floor and countertops at least once a week.
- Repair leaky faucets and drain pipes to eliminate water sources that attract these pests.
- Close up all openings around the house that might allow cockroaches to enter.
- Reduce the number of cockroaches by using environmentally safe pesticides and bait stations.
- Encase your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen impermeable covers (available from mail-order specialty supply companies, as well as some bedding and department stores).
- Wash all bedding and blankets once a week in hot water (at least 130-140°F) to kill dust mites.
- Replace wool or feathered bedding with synthetic materials, and make sure all stuffed animals are washable.
- If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpets in bedrooms with bare floors (linoleum, tile, or wood).
- Use a damp mop or rag to remove dust from surfaces. Never use a dry cloth, which just stirs up mite allergens.
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain relative humidity at 50% or below.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with either a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to trap allergens that pass through a vacuum's exhaust.
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain relative humidity below 50% and keep temperatures cool.
- Vent clothes dryers and bathrooms to the outside so that moisture does not accumulate in your home.
- Check faucets, pipes, and ductwork for leaks.
- After you turn on air conditioners in your home or car, leave the room or drive with the windows open for several minutes to allow mold spores to disperse.
- Remove decaying debris from the yard, roof, and gutters.
- Avoid raking leaves, mowing lawns, and working with peat, mulch, hay, or dead wood. If you must do yard work, wear a mask and avoid working on hot, humid days.
- If possible, remove all pets from your home.
- If it is not possible to remove pets, keep them confined to areas without carpets or upholstered furniture and out of bedrooms.
- When near any rodents (mice, hamsters, Guinea pigs, squirrels, etc.), wear a dust mask and gloves.
- Wash your hands and clean your clothes after playing with your pet—this will remove pet allergens.
- When possible, ask someone else to clean soiled litter cages.
- Dust regularly with a damp cloth.
SOURCE: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care. First created 2004; most recently updated 2005.
© Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) Editorial Board