Asthma is a chronic inflammatory lung condition that affects the airways and the way a person breathes. Asthma cannot be cured, only treated. Certain conditions in the home, such as mold, dust mites, and even some cleaning products, can trigger and exacerbate asthma.
Pediatric asthma rates are extremely high in Springfield. It is estimated that 1 in 5 school children have asthma (Springfield School Nursing Department, 2014), which is double that of the state overall (MDPH, MA Pediatric Asthma Surveillance, 2011-2012). Adult asthma prevalence is also high at 18%, compared to 11% statewide (MDPH, CY2013 MA/US BRFSS). Asthma disproportionately impacts some racial/ethnic groups, with Latinos experiencing the highest rates of asthma hospitalizations (MDPH, Hospitalization Dataset, 2009-2011).
The impact of asthma:
- High medical costs from unexpected emergency room visits and hospitalizations
- Missed school days
- Missed work days
Many asthma episodes are triggered by hazards in the home. By making your home healthier, you can prevent these triggers and keep your family healthy!
Asthma triggers in the home include:
- Mice and rats
- Dust mites
- Pet hair and dander
- Tobacco smoke
- Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) and chemical odors, including air fresheners
If someone in your home is experiencing chronic coughing, wheezing, chest tightness or shortness of breath, you should go to your primary care provider. If these symptoms increase in the home, especially at night, home-based asthma triggers may be the cause.
Top Ten Actions to Control Asthma Triggers in Your Home:
- No smoking indoors (or in the car).
- Cover mattress, box springs, and pillows with special allergy proof encasings.
- Remove carpet in the bedroom or vacuum often.
- Regularly clean your home to remove dust.
- Wash bedding in hot water weekly.
- Fix leaks and moisture problems.
- Store all food in air-tight containers or in the refrigerator.
- Clean up crumbs and dirty dishes and remove garbage daily.
- Keep cats, dogs, and caged pets out of bedrooms.
- Avoid using products with strong odors around family members with asthma.
These action steps can reduce asthma triggers. This can reduce asthma attacks. Remember, Asthma Needs Action.
Create an Asthma Action Plan with your Doctor:
The EPA recommends updating Asthma Action Plans annually. These written documents encourage self-management of asthma. Your doctor can help you figure out the best plan for you. Plans include:
- List of personal triggers and how to avoid them;
- Instructions for taking asthma medication(s);
- Information on what to do during an asthma episode;
- Instructions on when to call a doctor;
- Emergency telephone numbers.