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Asthma Health Center

Treating Asthma in Children

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Step 1 -- Identifying and Controlling Asthma Triggers continued...

The following are suggested environmental control measures for different allergens and irritants:

Indoor controls 

To control dust mites:

  • Use only polyester-filled pillows and comforters (never feather or down). Use mite-proof covers (available at allergy supply stores) over pillows and mattresses. Keep covers clean by vacuuming or wiping them down once a week.
  • Wash your child's sheets and blankets once a week in very hot water (130 degrees or higher) to kill dust mites.
  • Keep upholstered furniture, window mini-blinds, and carpeting out of a child's bedroom and playroom because they can collect dust and dust mites (especially carpets). Use washable throw rugs and curtains and wash them in hot water weekly. Vinyl window shades that can be wiped down can also be used.
  • Dust and vacuum weekly. If possible, use a vacuum specially designed to collect and trap dust mites (with a HEPA filter).
  • Reduce the number of dust-collecting houseplants, books, knickknacks, and non washable stuffed animals in your home.
  • Avoid humidifiers when possible because moist air promotes dust mite infestation and mold growth.

To control pollens and molds:

  • Ventilate bathrooms, basements, and other damp places where mold can grow. 
  • Consider keeping a light on in closets and using a dehumidifier in basements to remove air moisture.
  • Use air conditioning because it removes excess air moisture, filters out pollens from the outside, and provides air circulation throughout your home. Filters should be changed once a month.
  • Avoid wallpaper and carpets in bathrooms because mold can grow under them.
  • Use bleach to kill mold in bathrooms.
  • Keep windows and doors shut during pollen season.

To control irritants:

  • Do not smoke (or allow others to smoke) at home, even when a child is not present.
  • Do not burn wood fires in fireplaces or wood stoves.
  • Avoid strong odors from paint, perfume, hair spray, disinfectants, chemical cleaners, air fresheners, and glues.

To control animal dander:

  • If your child is allergic to a pet, you may have to consider finding a new home for the animal or keeping the pet outside at all times.
  • It may (but does not always) help to wash the animal at least once a week to remove excess dander and collected pollens.
  • Never allow the pet into the allergic child's bedroom.
  • If you don't already own a pet and your child has asthma, don't get one. Even if your child isn't allergic to the animal now, he or she can become allergic with continued exposure.

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