The CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) states that asthma prevalence is around 7.7% in the American population. That percentage translates to 24.7 million people, with approximately 5.5 million of those individuals being children aged 18 or younger.
There’s no denying that asthma is a serious respiratory condition that can severely impact a person’s health. In extreme cases, it can cause those with asthma to require hospital care. One sad fact of asthma is a person’s own home can cause symptoms to flare up.
Some people who have experienced asthma for most of their lives have found several positive changes in their home have eased their symptoms. You’re likely reading this because you have asthma, and you want to make your abode an asthma-safe one.
The thing is, what steps can you take to achieve that goal? It makes sense to enact changes that make a real and positive difference to your breathing when you’re at home. Without further ado, here are some practical (and proven) suggestions to help you get started:
Make your home a smoke-free one
If you are a smoker, the obvious thing you need to do is give up the habit. There’s plenty of studies and scientific research out there to prove that smoking is bad for all human health. It’s something you should absolutely give up if you have asthma.
What happens if you’re a non-smoker, but the people that inhabit your abode are smokers? Telling them to give up smoking can be challenging, and forcing them to do so is likely to be met with a wall of resistance.
You could ask those that inhabit your home to smoke outside of your dwelling. Alternatively, you might want to consider living alone if those that co-habit your home refuse to do anything about their smoking habits.
On the subject of smoking, do you have a log burner in your abode? If so, you should stop using that too. Did you know wood smoke can exacerbate your asthma symptoms? Working fireplaces in living areas look great, but your health is more critical than aesthetics.
Avoid using household cleaners with chemicals
When you do your grocery shopping, you’ll undoubtedly notice a vast array of cleaning products available to buy. You may not have given a second thought to the cleaners you buy, only briefly pausing to check they are suitable for your intended purposes.
Household cleaners often contain a variety of harsh man-made chemicals that contain volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Those compounds get released into the air that you breathe and can trigger the symptoms of asthma.
You’re probably wondering what to do, considering you need to keep your home clean. Let’s face it: water alone doesn’t have the power to clean even the toughest stains. The good news is there are some alternatives to household cleaners packed with VOCs.
The first is to look for household cleaners that contain natural ingredients. These are typically ones sourced from plants and often get labeled as vegan-friendly products. Some ingredients you’ll find in asthma-safe cleaning products include:
- Apple Cider Vinegar;
- Lemon Juice;
- Essential Oils.
Remember that household cleaners with VOCs don’t just come in spray bottles – you can also get them in aerosol form. When you’re next doing your grocery shopping, be sure to look out for household cleaners with natural ingredients.
Alternatively, you can make up some household cleaning products at home using plant-based ingredients. Take a look at Madeleine Olivia’s blog for some examples of what you can make and how to make them.
Keep the air fresh and purified
Even if you clean your home with almost military precision, one thing you’ve probably not considered is your home’s air quality. Did you know there are many hidden or unseen airborne asthma triggers lurking in each room of your home?
Short of wearing a biosuit during your waking hours, you’ll be happy to know there are quite a few practical steps you can take to keep your air fresh and purified.
Take a look at these examples:
Open your windows each morning
You can freshen the air inside your home by opening all your windows first thing in the morning. It’s a free and natural way to expel all stale air from indoors and transfer some fresh air from the outdoors.
Of course, you must exercise caution when opening your windows. Avoid doing so during days where the pollen count or pollution levels in your area are high. After all, you don’t want to make your asthma symptoms worse.
Consider using a weather app on your smartphone that gives you live information on your area’s pollen and pollution levels.
Use an air purifier
You may have heard about air purifiers, but what do they do to purify the air in your living spaces? Air purifiers sanitize the air from pollutants, allergens, and toxins by filtering and neutralizing those particulates.
They work by trapping particulates in a maze of tiny fibers so that only purified air gets expelled. The best air purifiers use PECO (Photo ElectroChemical Oxidation) technology to destroy organic pollutants at a molecular level.
Are you interested in a more scientific explanation of how air purifiers work, especially those with PECO technology? If so, head over to Molekule’s blog for further research on the subject.
What’s important to note is that air purifiers work well to filter out particulates that can exacerbate your asthma symptoms. There’s plenty of scientific research on the topic with proven results, so air purifiers are a worthwhile investment for your home.
Keep in mind that air purifiers won’t do anything about allergens that settle on surfaces in your home. However, if you combine the technology with a regular cleaning regime that doesn’t use harsh chemicals, you will significantly purify your air.
Use your home’s air conditioning system regularly
If your home has a built-in air conditioning system, it makes sense to use it every day. You already know about their benefits for everyone – they keep the air cool, comfortable, and refreshing.
What you may not know is your air conditioning also helps to keep your asthma under control. One study from 2011 showed the effect of home air conditioning on preschool children with asthma.
The study concluded that children in air-conditioned homes have fewer asthma triggers than those in non-air-conditioned dwellings. That’s just one scientific example of many that prove a link between a lower prevalence of asthma triggers and air conditioning.
Many homes in the United States have ducted air conditioning systems. What’s good to know is those systems filter out particulates like animal dander, dust mites, pollen, and mold spores.
Another advantage of home air conditioning systems is that filtration occurs even when you increase the temperature for warm air during the colder seasons of the year. In short, home air conditioning provides year-round relief for people of all ages with asthma.
One fact to keep in mind about home air conditioning systems is that they are only effective if maintained regularly. Air conditioning systems, such as ducted ones, and even the ones in cars, use filters.
With that in mind, be sure to have your home’s air conditioning system maintained and serviced at least once each year.
Don’t have any pets
It’s no secret that America is a nation filled with animal lovers. Many people have all kinds of pets, from cats and dogs to more exotic ones that you might usually find in a zoo or wildlife sanctuary.
If you’re particularly sensitive to specific allergens, it’s best to avoid having any pets in your home. As you’ve probably guessed, common household pets like cats and dogs can bring inside allergens after they’ve spent some time exploring your garden or elsewhere outdoors.
And because allergens are airborne, they can easily travel between rooms in your home. It might seem like an extreme suggestion, but it’s better to avoid having pets in your abode to decrease the chances of allergens making your asthma symptoms worse.
On that note, you should avoid visiting people’s homes if they have pets themselves for the same reason.
Tackle any mold in your home
One final suggestion to make is to deal with mold as soon as it becomes visible in your home. Doing things like opening your windows each morning is a good way of removing condensation in your home, as mold thrives in damp conditions.
The thing is, mold can turn up in parts of your home that become damp quite often, such as kitchens and bathrooms. When tackling mold, wear a mask and safety gloves, and try to use products with natural ingredients and no VOCs.
Bleach might be your go-to solution in the past, but it can release high levels of VOCs. Instead, consider ingredients like citric acid, which has no VOCs.
Sometimes, mold can occur due to structural issues with your house. In those circumstances, you may need to hire a professional to take care of whatever is causing the mold to appear in your home.