Your Family and Asthma
The topic of asthma and changes that need to take place in a home of an asthma sufferer are important and vital for the well-being of the asthmatic. This article will discuss some typical family issues, such as communication, behavior, and the relationship with you and your child asthma sufferer. It will also give helps on dealing with caregiver, siblings, and other relatives.
Asthma-‘Proofing’ Your Home and Life
It will become very important to locate and eliminate asthma triggers in your home. An asthma trigger is anything that will cause distress in the child suffering asthma. As you work together as a family to eradicate these triggers that can lead to asthma flare-ups, you will come to enjoy good health and understanding in your home. Skin-testing your child for various allergies is a good first step in eliminating problem triggers. You will then be able to make changes around the house and in the child’s bedroom that will help to minimize contact with offending allergen, which will in turn be proactive in preventing asthma attacks in the future. Even if your child has not yet been tested for allergies, following certain basic guidelines can help all children and adult asthma sufferers and reduce asthma triggers that can cause airway restriction and inflammation.
Most children have a basic set of asthma triggers that are not seasonal, but are found in their lives year-round. If you know what the most common of these problem makers are you can begin reducing them for the benefit of your child asthmatic. Some of the most common indoor asthma and allergy triggers are mold (check your bathroom and moist places in your home), dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, rodents (even the family pet type), and tobacco smoke (whether first or secondhand). Some lesser-known triggers are just as problematic, such as increased humidity in the home, lower household temperatures, and household plants and greenery (real Christmas trees are nasty culprits, especially when they are cut and dying). Strong smells from perfumes and cleaners are know to be huge trigger factors in asthmatics. And last, but not least, some types of physical exercise have been linked to asthma attacks.
Begin first with the area of your home that your asthmatic child spends most of his or her time. This would include not only where he sleeps, but where he does his homework and favorite play areas, television or computer areas, etc. In a teen, this could also include the bathroom and other favorite haunts of kids. Let’s address the whole house for specific suggestions to get started making your home an allergen free zone.
Looking Around the House
There are a number of changes that are inexpensive and easy to make throughout your home. Below is a list to get you started.
Keep your home smoke-free. Let your family members and friends know that you are concerned for your child’s health and that smoking in and around your home just isn’t an option. If mentioned gently, most people will sympathize and avoid smoking in your home.
If possible, remove carpets and install hard flooring. This would be ideal to do throughout the home, but at least remove them from your child’s bedroom. Consider instead a washable throw rug or two that can be sterilized regularly and even replaced periodically. There are a number of cleaning solutions for reducing dust mites in the home, but they do not eliminate the mold spores that thrive in carpeting, which are one of the worst offenders in triggering asthma attacks.
Stagnant water can and will attract bugs and roaches, as well as increasing humidity. Ultimately small drips and leaks in faucets and tubs can increase mold and mildew, which are nasty asthma offenders.
Using dehumidifiers in the home or in air conditioners is an easy way to reduce humidity in the house. Ideally, humidity should be less than 50 percent year round for best results. Avoid putting a fan in a window to cool the room, which can pull pollen into the house from the outdoors. If you do not have a central air conditioner, use a window or wall unit instead of a window fan. Use dehumidifiers in the basement and other damp areas to help reduce mold growth. Belt type humidifiers are not preferred as the damp belts are a growth zone for bacteria and fungi to thrive in.
Dust your furniture and knick knacks regularly, at least once a week. Eliminate ‘dust collectors’ altogether, such as silk plants and ‘natural’ decorations that are hard to keep dust free.
Using hot water and soap, wipe down all baseboards once a week. This helps get rid of cockroach feces, dust mites, and a variety of potential allergens.
Schedule your vacuuming and dusting during a time when your child is not at home. This helps in preventing dust inhalation.
Avoid leaving food out on counters, etc. Keep a lid on garbage containers, and seal all garbage bags and containers before removing them. To reduce the likelihood of cockroaches and rodents, remove garbage on a daily basis.
Put out bait for mice and roaches, but do so in child-proof containers, and definitely out of the reach of your child. If using a spray to kill insects and roaches, be sure to ventilate the area well before allowing your child back in to the sprayed area.
To reduce your child’s exposure to dust, cover your cloth sofa with a vinyl throw or slipcover or provide your child with a vinyl beanbag type chair to watch tv in. Better yet, consider purchasing a vinyl or leather sofa or chair for your rooms to reduce the amount of dust inhalation that comes from snuggling into a couch or hugging up to a favorite pillow.
Install exhaust fans for stoves and other appliances, and keep them running whenever using those appliances.
Keep your heating and air conditioning system well maintained and your filters changed monthly. It is a good idea to put this on a regular ‘to do’ list or calendar, whether on an electrical device or on paper.
Cleaning product should be non-allergenic and if possible, scent-free. Some good ideas for this would bee baking soda, apple cider vinegar mixed with water, mineral oil, lemon oil, beeswax, paste wax, and non-chlorine bleaches. Ammonia is classified as non-allergenic also, but do your cleaning when your child is away from home and ventilate your home well to eliminate the strong odors associated with ammonia.
Purchase mild soaps instead of the scented variety. Deodorant soaps smell nice but can be potent triggers for asthma attacks.
Choose your child’s bedding with care. Check labels for non-allergenic materials, especially pillows and mattress pads. Vacuum your child’s mattress whenever changing the bedding. If possible, it is even better to cover the mattress in an allergy-free mattress protector. Wash sheets weekly, and wash all blankets and throw covers every three to four weeks. Purchase a new pillow for your child every six months.
Last but not least, remove all of those favorite stuffed animals and fluffy, allergen-filled toys. Try steering your child toward toys that can be wiped down on a regular basis. Regular dolls are a better choice over anything stuffed, since they can be cleaned regularly and do not encourage dust mites to move in and take over.
Making these changes in your home will not be quick or easy, but consciously working on improving your home zone, the place where your child spends most of their time, will help tremendously in reducing the severity and occurrence of asthma attacks in your child.
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