If your child has asthma, you know that lots of things -- from secondhand smoke to plant and tree pollen -- can trigger an asthma attack.
When your child is exposed to a trigger, his airways swell, restricting air flow through the lungs. This is what causes the symptoms of asthma, such as chest tightness, wheezing, coughing, and difficulty breathing. Helping your child avoid triggers can help keep asthma under control.
But avoiding asthma triggers isn’t always so easy. Triggers are different for everyone. And there are some triggers you can’t control, such as pollution or pollen levels.
You can control the triggers in one of the most important places in your child’s life -- your home. Here are some ways to keep your home trigger-free -- and your child breathing easily.
Keep Your House Fume-Free
Other kinds of smoke and fumes can also trigger an asthma attack. These include fumes from gas, wood, or kerosene stoves as well as the exhaust from cars and buses.
All fuel-burning appliances -- such as stoves, fireplaces, gas or kerosene space heaters, and oil and gas furnaces -- can produce nitrogen dioxide. You can’t smell or see this gas, but it can irritate your nose, eyes and throat, and can trigger asthma.
To keep your household air free of fumes:
• Make sure that all stoves are properly vented to the outside. For gas stoves, be sure to use an exhaust fan that vents outside while cooking.
• If you use a wood stove, use it according to the manufacturer’s directions and be sure that the doors fit tightly.
• When using an unvented kerosene or gas space heater, crack open a window or use an exhaust fan.
• Before using your fireplace, be sure that the flue is open so that smoke can escape out the chimney.
• No matter what kind of heating system you use, have it cleaned and inspected each year.
• To reduce the risk of exhaust fumes getting into your home, don’t keep your car idling inside an attached garage.
Beware of Household Chemicals
Many common household products, such as cleaning supplies, paints, pesticides, perfumes, and soaps, can be a problem for some children with asthma. Any product with a strong smell releases chemicals into the air. For a child with asthma, these fumes can cause an attack.