There are a lot of places in your home where dust, mold and other hidden allergens can get trapped and trigger allergic reactions and asthma attacks. Whether you yourself have asthma or you live with someone who does, here are nine things to do so you can breathe easier (...literally!)
Keep cockroaches out
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, cockroaches carry a protein that is a common allergen for many people, and can trigger asthma attacks. If you live in a major city where cockroaches are a concern (or if you've seen any in your home), staying one step ahead of them can help prevent asthma issues later on. Make sure trash cans are covered, food isn't left out, dishes aren't left overnight and floors and counters are kept clean. Get traps and bait if need be, and call an exterminator if you think you have a problem.
Vacuum and dust regularly
Dust (especially dust mites, which can cause an allergic reaction) can trigger asthma attacks, so it's important to keep your home as dust-free as possible. Make sure to clean regularly wherever dust accumulates to keep it to a minimum, and vacuum any surfaces where dust and allergens can get trapped.
Get rid of carpeting if possible
Wall-to-wall carpeting is one of the worst things to have in your home if you deal with asthma and allergies, because it can trap allergens that can make your symptoms worse. If you have the option, get rid of it—stick to easy-to-clean floors like tile and wood. If you have to live with carpet, make sure you clean it regularly.
Get furniture that's easy to clean
Much like carpeting, allergens can get trapped in upholstery, so if you have the option, get furniture that's easier to clean—think a leather sofa that you can wipe down instead of something upholstered in a woven fabric. The same goes for down-filled pillows and comforters, especially if you have a dust mite allergy.
Protect your mattresses and pillows
Speaking of pillows, it's a good idea to protect your mattresses and pillows with special covers to keep them safe from dust mites and allergens. Cover any new pillows and mattresses right away before you use them, and for the ones you already have, make sure you clean and sanitize them first, then keep them covered.
Keep pets out of the bedroom
If you have pets in your home, do your best to make sure they stay out of the bedroom—since you spend a lot of time there and it's where you sleep, it's best to keep it as allergen-free as possible. Also, make sure anywhere your pet does go is cleaned often to prevent dander from building up.
Avoid smoking and perfumes
If you have asthma, this is probably something you already practice, but just in case, make sure no one smokes inside your home since it can cause more asthma episodes (yep, even secondhand smoke can trigger an attack). Also, if you suspect you're sensitive to scents and perfumes, avoid spraying them inside to keep the air in your home clear.
Stay a step ahead of mold
Since mold and mildew can be a trigger for asthma, you should do your best to keep your home mold and mildew free. Mold grows in damp environments, so that means you need to keep your home dry, especially in rooms like the kitchen and the bathroom. You can use a dehumidifier to keep humidity levels down, and watch out for condensation. The AAFA has several tips for keeping mold and mildew at bay if you feel like it might be a problem. Another tip? If you're painting, use mildew-resistant paint to help prevent future growth.
Invest in a humidifier
Sure, you need to keep your home dry, but it's also good to have a humidifier on hand for bad bouts of asthma. If you've ever suffered an asthma attack in super dry conditions, you know that a little steam can help alleviate that cough-inducing tickle in your throat, especially when you're trying to sleep. When it's too dry and your asthma flairs up, having a humidifier that you can use in your home helps to prevent it from getting worse.