Certain things cause asthma "attacks" or make asthma worse. These are called triggers. Some common asthma triggers are
- Things your child might be allergic to. These are called allergens. (Most children with asthma have allergies, and allergies are a major cause of asthma symptoms.)
- House dust mites
- Animal dander
- Infections of the airways
- Viral infections of the nose and throat
- Other infections, such as pneumonia or sinus infections
- Irritants in the environment (outside or indoor air you breathe)
- Cigarette and other smoke
- Air pollution
- Cold air, dry air
- Odors, fragrances, volatile organic compounds in sprays, and cleaning products
- Exercise (About 80% of people with asthma develop wheezing, coughing, and a tight feeling in the chest when they exercise.)
Be sure to check all of your child's "environments," such as school, child care, and relatives' homes, for exposure to these same things.
Help Your Child Avoid Triggers
While it is impossible to make the place you live in completely allergen or irritant-free, there are things you can do to reduce your child's exposure to triggers. The following tips may help.
- Do not smoke or let anyone else smoke in your home or car.
Reduce exposure to dust mites. The most necessary and effective things to do are to cover your child's mattress and pillows with special allergy-proof encasings, wash their bedding in hot water every 1 to 2 weeks, remove stuffed toys from the bedroom, and vacuum and dust regularly. Other avoidance measures, which are more difficult or expensive, include reducing the humidity in the house with a dehumidifier or removing carpeting in the bedroom. Bedrooms in basements should not be carpeted.