Asthma is a significant health problem in Australia, affects one in four children and one in ten adults. What is asthma and what can be done to help asthmatic children and adults in the home?
So what is asthma?
Asthma is caused by narrowing of the small air passages (bronchi) in the lungs. The narrowing happens because the air passages become swollen and inflamed. It is harder for air to get through, making it harder to breathe.
Asthma is most easily recognised by the following symptoms:
• coughing (especially at night)
Soft toys can be placed in the freezer overnight to kill dust mites.
• tightness in the chest
How does allergy play a role in asthma?
Allergy is a common asthma trigger. Some common allergens include:
House Dust Mite. If you are allergic to dust mite, you should consider ways to reduce house dust mite in your home:
• Encase mattress and pillows in mite-proof covers. Your pharmacist can advise on this.
• Wash bedclothes weekly in hot water (over 55°).
• Shake and air pillows and quilts in the sun weekly.
• Remove soft furry toys and soft furnishings, if possible. Soft toys can be placed in the freezer overnight to kill dust mites.
• Helpful suggestions for cleaning:
- wear a mask
- dust with a damp or electrostatic cloth
- use a wet or electrostatic mop rather than vacuum
- consider ducted or well-filtered vacuum-cleaning systems
- ask about low allergen housing.
Pollens: If you are allergic to pollen, it is difficult to avoid it but try these measures.
• Find out about grasses and trees in your area which have wind-borne pollens and avoid them.
• Keep windows and doors closed on windy spring days and avoid outdoor activities.
• Avoid mowing the lawn, or wear a mask and eye protection.
• Have native plants which have little pollen in your garden.
• Ask your doctor about antihistamines.
Pets: Anyone affected by allergens from animals, especially cats or birds should avoid close contact
• keep pets out of the bedrooms, preferably out of the house.
Moulds: If mould spores trigger your asthma
• air the house well
• keep air-conditioning units clean; evaporative coolers are not recommended
• indoor plants may need to be removed
• avoid disturbing rotting vegetation such as mulches and composts, especially in hot, humid weather
• be cautious about going outdoors on warm, windy days, and avoid or take protective measures during grass-cutting or harvesting.
For more information or support, contact your local Asthma Foundation on 1800 645 130.
Further reading: Asthma in Australia
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