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Children with asthma have unusually sensitive airways. Asthma
symptoms can be triggered by many things in the environment. These
triggers are unique to each child. Some common environmental triggers
of asthma symptoms are cigarette smoke, pollens, house dust, molds,
animal dander, perfume, strong odors, and cold air. Climate and
weather changes can also affect asthma.
Try to limit your child's contact with these triggers, especially in
places where your child spends a lot of time, such as at home and
Cigarette, pipe, and cigar smoke are harmful to children and adults
in general, but the smoke poses a special problem for all children
with asthma. Even the smell of smoke on clothes can trigger asthma
symptoms in a child with sensitive airways. No one should smoke in
the home where an asthmatic child lives- even when the child is not
present. Do not allow smoking in any cars that children ride in.
Pollens are small particles that plants such as trees, grasses, and
weeds release into the air. The amount of pollen in the air outdoors
varies with the season and the time of day. Pollen and outdoor mold
amounts tend to be lower in the early morning, and higher at midday
and in the afternoon.
Pollens from grasses, weeds, and trees are light and can be carried
in the air for miles. These pollens land in the eyes, nose, and
airways, causing the symptoms of allergies and asthma. Flower pollens
are heavier and are carried from plant to plant by insects rather
than the wind. As a result, flower pollens rarely cause allergies.
Although it is difficult to avoid pollens totally, some suggestions
Molds are found year-round throughout the house, outdoors, and in
certain foods. They are especially found in areas with a lot of
moisture. Molds make lightweight spores that can travel a long way in
the air both outdoors and in the house.
Bathrooms and damp basements are two common areas for mold growth.
Other common places include swamp coolers, humidifiers, and the
refrigerator drip pan and crisper. Here are some suggestions to
decrease mold growth:
House dust is made of many things, including dirt, insect debris,
dust mites, dead skin, animal dander, food crumbs, bacteria, and
fungi. Dust collects on every item in the home, including mattresses,
pillows, furniture, clothes, rugs, drapes, and stuffed animals.
It is very difficult to avoid house dust, but the following ideas
A substance in animal saliva, dander, and urine causes allergic
reactions in many people. Children may be more sensitive to one type
of animal (such as cats) than another. All furred animals have the
potential to cause allergic reactions. Cold-blooded reptiles, such as
snakes, turtles, lizards, and fish, do not cause problems.
Removing a family pet is very difficult, but if your child is very
sensitive to animal allergens, it may be necessary. Once the pet is
removed from the house, animal dander can stay in the house for
months. Thorough cleaning is essential. It is very important to clean
stuffed furniture, wall surfaces, rugs, drapes, and the
If your child is sensitive to animals and has a pet, the best thing
is to remove the pet from your home. If this is not possible, the pet
should live outside and NEVER be in the child's bedroom. Keep your
child's bedroom door closed. Keep pets out of family areas and rooms
where people with asthma sleep at all times.
Cockroaches are an important source of allergic sensitization, and
worsen asthma symptoms. To control cockroaches:
Different types of indoor and outdoor air pollutants can aggravate
asthma. This includes ozone, dust, smoke, paint fumes, and strong
perfumes or odors. Weather conditions such as cold temperature and
low humidity can make asthma worse, especially on high pollution
Colds and flu make asthma worse and often trigger episodes of asthma.
The viruses that cause respiratory illnesses are more common during
the fall and winter months. Monitor asthma symptoms and track peak
flows regularly. It may also help to: