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Take Control of Indoor Asthma Triggers

Armen Hareyan's picture

Asthma Control

Most Canadians spend up to 90 per cent of their time indoors, making indoor air quality an important health concern, especially during the winter months when windows are closed. For the 2.5 million Canadians with asthma, poor indoor air quality can lead to serious health problems and play a significant role in triggering asthma symptoms.

It is important to recognize potential asthma triggers and reduce exposure to them in order to reduce symptoms. Asthma triggers fall into two groups: allergens and irritants. Allergens only affect people who are sensitive or allergic to them, while irritants can affect anyone. The effects of allergens can last longer and can be more severe than the effects of irritants, but both can trigger asthma attacks.

Common indoor asthma triggers can include:

. Dust mites and pet dander

Dust mites and pet dander can collect in carpets and on mattresses, so remember to vacuum your home often. Try using removable slip covers on furniture which can be washed easily.

. Mould

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Mould tends to grow indoors in damp places, such as bathrooms, basements, humidifiers and air conditioners. Reduce exposure to moulds by adding an anti-mould solution to your humidifier and by keeping indoor humidity levels between 40-50 per cent.

. Cleaning products

Many strong smelling household cleaning products contain chemicals that irritate the lungs and can result in tightening of the airways. When shopping, look for non-toxic household products and store them away from living areas of the home.

. Cigarette smoke

The effects of one cigarette can linger in the home for 7 days, so a smoke-free environment is important when controlling asthma.

. Some glues

Strong adhesives such as epoxy glues can trigger asthma symptoms when their fumes are inhaled. Water based contact adhesives and white glue are good alternatives.

If you are experiencing trouble managing your asthma, speak with your doctor. To learn more about asthma triggers, visit The Lung Association's website at www.on.lung.ca Or call the toll-free Asthma Action Helpline at 1-800-668-7682 to order your free copy of The New Asthma Action Handbook, which provides information on triggers, symptoms, treatment and how to use asthma medications.