When you or a family member has asthma, where you live could make a difference in how well you live. While there are no hard and fast rules, many things can make a place good or bad for people with this condition.
Avoid Common Triggers
Whether you’re about to move or just looking for ways to better control your asthma, it pays to keep an eye out for some of the most common triggers:
Agriculture: You’d think all that fresh, clean air would be good for you. But farm air can be full of things that can bother your asthma, from grain dust and fungi, to animal dander and urine and even chemicals in feed.
Mold: Outdoor molds die with the first frost, but they never really go away in places that are damp all year. Mold and its cousin, mildew, reproduce by sending spores flying into the air. When they reach your lungs, it can lead to an asthma attack.
Pests: Roaches, rats, and mice can be big problems in urban neighborhoods. Allergens in the critters’ spit and waste can set off an asthma attack.
Pollen is a leading cause of hay fever. When it hits, your immune system churns out histamine -- the stuff that makes your eyes water and your nose and throat feel scratchy. Those symptoms can make your asthma symptoms worse.
Smog: From factories that spew pollutants to endless traffic jams, it’s hard to breathe in places with big industry. It gets worse in summer when heat and humidity hold that dirty air in place. If you live in a smoggy town, check the EPA’s air quality index before you head outdoors.
Weather: Cold, dry air can narrow your airways. Hot, humid air traps allergens and pollution. Summer thunderstorms break up pollution particles and make them easier to breathe in.
Other Things Play a Role
Lists of good and bad places to live with asthma often include a look at other things like:
- Poverty: More people living in poverty means fewer people with access to medical care.
- Lack of insurance: Again, it means fewer people with asthma will be getting care.
- Number of asthma doctors: Without enough specialists, people who can’t travel easily won’t get care.
- Number of ER visits: A high ranking means people aren’t seeing a doctor regularly.
What Can You Do?
Most of us spend the better part of our days inside. That’s an area you can control. These steps can help you manage asthma even when changing locations isn’t an option:
- Take preventive meds for asthma as prescribed.
- Have a rescue inhaler available.
- Get a flu shot every year.
- Stay clean -- wash your hands with soap and water, rather than alcohol-based sanitizers.
- Avoid sick people if you can.
Keep an eye out for things like cleaners, anything with perfumes, dust, smoke, and mold, which can cause your asthma to flare.