Most people with asthma find their symptoms get worse when they are exposed to certain triggers. Some of these triggers can be found in and around the average home. There are many ways in which you can transform your home into an asthma-friendly environment.
Household triggers for asthma
Some of the more common household triggers include:
- dust mites – which love warm, moist conditions and thrive in bedding and carpets. Their droppings cause the allergic reaction
- moulds – which need moist environments with poor ventilation
- pollens – from trees, plants and grasses
- pets – because of their fur, skin or scales (called 'dander')
- other triggers – including cold dry air, smoke, certain foods, chemicals and perfumes.
Improve air quality in an asthma-friendly home
Make your home a smoke-free zone. You should also pay attention to ventilation, heating and cooling. Ideally, the air in your home should be fresh and not too humid.
- Install extractor fans with external vents in the kitchen, bathroom and laundry, vented externally rather than into the roof space.
- Use an efficient externally vented range hood over your stove top to remove steam and cooking smells that can irritate people with asthma.
- Have fixed air vents in all rooms to improve air circulation.
- Use electric cooking appliances as they do not produce gaseous fumes, allow minimal heat loss and are easy and safe to use.
Improve heating and cooling
- Choose radiant heating that doesn’t collect or circulate dust.
- Avoid open fires because wood smoke can be a trigger.
- Avoid fan-forced ducted heating because it circulates dust.
- Choose refrigerated reverse-cycle systems because they take the moisture out of the air and allow for adjustment of temperature.
- Avoid evaporative cooling systems because they humidify the air.
- Use foil or polyester insulation.
- Avoid un-flued gas heaters because they produce indoor air pollutants as a result of combustion, including nitrogen dioxide and carbon monoxide. They also produce water vapour that can increase the growth of moulds and dust mites.
Reduce your dust mite population
Dust contains many allergen particles. Some suggestions on how to cut down on the amount of dust in your home include:
Pets and an asthma-friendly home
If you don’t want to get rid of any furry pets, there are ways of minimising their impact, including:
- Have your pets live outside.
- Keep pets out of the bedrooms.
- Brush or groom pets outside.
- Wash your pets every week to reduce the spread of animal dander.
- Clean out cages or litter boxes regularly.
- Choose non-shedding or low-shedding pets.
Grow a ‘low-allergen’ garden
Ways of reducing the amount of allergens in your garden include:
- Weed regularly.
- Replace lawn with bricked or paved areas.
- Avoid rye grass.
- Choose plants that are pollinated by birds or insects, rather than plants that release their seeds into the air.
- Replace mulch with pebbles or gravel.
Where to get help
- Your doctor
- Asthma Victoria Tel. 1800 ASTHMA (278 462)
Things to remember
- Most houses contain triggers that could make symptoms worse in people with asthma.
- Eliminating dust is an effective way to cut back on many allergens.
- Remove any suspect plants from your garden.
This page has been produced in consultation with and approved by:
Asthma Foundation of Victoria
Content on this website is provided for education and information purposes only. Information about a therapy, service, product or treatment does not imply endorsement and is not intended to replace advice from your doctor or other registered health professional. Content has been prepared for Victorian residents and wider Australian audiences, and was accurate at the time of publication. Readers should note that, over time, currency and completeness of the information may change. All users are urged to always seek advice from a registered health care professional for diagnosis and answers to their medical questions.