Interiors of Homes and Affects on Asthma

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The inside of an asthmatic's home is where most causes and triggers will be, making it especially important to identify them and minimize the effect.

Dust Mites

House-dust mites are tiny insects that live in the dust that builds up in carpets, bedding, soft furnishings and soft toys. Many asthmatics are sensitive to their droppings. Although they are an unseen trigger there are practical steps you can take to reduce their damaging affect.

Use hypoallergenic coverings on your mattress, duvet and pillows.

All carpets should be replaced with hard flooring, or tile. Your can have small, or area, carpets which you can wash periodically.

Vacuum often. Insure that your vacuum cleaner that has good suction and, most importantly, a filtered exhaust that goes into a hypoallergenic back and does not scatter the dust. Damp dust all surfaces or use an attachment on your vacuum cleaner.

All soft toys, stuffed animals, etc., should be put in the freezer for at least of six hours every other week so as to kill house-dust mites. To protect the fabric you can use zip lock bags or even cellophane.

Wash your sheets, duvet covers and pillowcases, in the hottest water possible, at least once a week. Some people are allergic to the feathers in pillows, however there is no conclusive evidence showing that synthetic hypo-allergenic pillows are better.

A dehumidifier, which dries the air, makes it difficult for the house-dust mites to live.



Furnishings and Carpets

Any furniture or flooring that is made from press board, a composite that is often used for shelving and furniture, contains a formaldehyde resin that gives off a pungent, colorless gas that can irritate the airways that can trigger asthma symptoms.

Carpets can also be a source of formaldehyde gas left over from the manufacturing process. If you are buying a new carpet you should ask the shop if they could unroll and air it before you bring it into your home or air it yourself as soon it is laid.

Keep in mind that pet allergens can linger for a long time on furniture and in carpets and are very difficult to remove without resorting to such a rigorous cleaning measure. Meaning that even if you own no pets the last owner of the home, especially if you just moved in, may have had pets. It may be worth steam cleaning the carpets before you move in.



Heating, Bathrooms and the Kitchen

Dampness, especially from bathrooms and laundry areas, has been linked with asthma and research has also shown that asthmatic have more problems when in homes without central heating.

Heating a home without using "fresh" air, that is just re-circulating the air, may be just moving the airborne dust mites from one area of the house to another. Many doctors have seen patients whose asthma symptoms, due to this re-cycled air, are much worse.

Houses that have gas fireplaces, stoves or ovens have higher levels of nitrogen dioxide. In some people with asthma nitrogen dioxide may cause other triggers to have slightly more effect on their symptoms.

Without adequate flues fireplaces can cause worsening of breathing problems, compared with central heating.

Fumes from Cleaning and Decorating

Many cleaning products and solvents are used around the house release chemicals that can cause breathing difficulties in people with asthma. These chemicals are known as volatile organic compounds (VOC's). The majority of household such as cleaning fluids, varnishes, glues and paints contain VOC's.

When cleaning, dusting, painting or working with any solvents, make sure that you are in a well ventilated area with the nearby windows open.

Furniture polish, air fresheners, carpet cleaners and dry-cleaned clothes can all trigger asthma because they contain VOC's.

Use solid or liquid alternatives rather than sprays if possible.

Wet paint causes problems as it's fumes may trigger asthma symptoms. New low-odor, water-based gloss paints are now available that may be slightly better for some people with asthma.

Stripping wallpaper often unsettles the dust that has accumulated over the years,so wash down wallpaper before starting as this may help to dampen down the dust, preventing it from becoming airborne. Ensure there is plenty of ventilation while working.

Consider wearing a mask during during everyday cleaning and housework.

Building work and repairs

It is important to ensure that housing problems such as damp, poor ventilation and inadequate heating are resolved as quickly as possible.

There is a link between poor housing conditions and asthma.

However care should be taken as major renovation or structural repair can cause a lot of dust and other irritant triggers.

If you are contemplating any building work within your home it is worth seeing your doctor or nurse to check if a temporary increase in medicine is needed.
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