Asthma and Reducing Triggers in Your Home

There are many things in every home that can cause an asthma attack or make asthma worse. These are called triggers. If your asthma attacks are triggered by an allergic reaction, avoid your triggers as much as possible.

Below is a list of common triggers. Make changes based on child’s specific allergies or triggers for asthma attacks.

Tobacco smoke

  • If you smoke, ask your child’s doctor for ways to help you quit. Ask other family members to stop smoking also.
  • If you have to smoke, wear a specific coat or “duster” when outside to smoke. Remove when entering the home.
  • Do not allow smoking in your home, car or around your child.
  • Be sure no one smokes at your child’s day care center.

House dust mites

Many people are allergic to dust mites. Dust mites are tiny bugs that you cannot see. They live in cloth and carpet. Follow the guidelines below to help reduce the number of dust mites your child may encounter in your home.

  • Put your child’s mattress, pillow, and box springs in plastic or vinyl covers that close with a zipper.
  • Remove stuffed animals or toys from your child’s bed.
  • Wash all blankets and bedding once a week in hot water; wipe off once a week then change bedding.
  • Mattress box springs should be covered with plastic, airtight cover.
  • Wipe off furniture and items near your child’s bed once a week with a damp cloth.
  • Do not dust or vacuum while your child is in the room.
  • Remove carpeting if possible, especially from your child’s sleeping area and play area.

Exercise, sports, work and play

  • Your child should be able to be active without symptoms.
  • Ask the doctor about giving your child medicine before exercise to prevent symptoms.
  • Have your child warm up for 5-10 minutes before exercise.
  • Have your child avoid hard work or play outside when pollution or pollen levels are high.

Indoor and outdoor pollens and molds

  • Use half-strength bleach or mold-killing solution to clean bathrooms, kitchens and basements.
  • Ensure shower curtains, refrigerator doors, bathtub and window corners are free of mildew/mold growth.
  • Use air conditioning and keep windows closed, if possible.
  • Use a dehumidifier, if available. Empty the pan daily.
  • Do not use vaporizers.
  • Avoid houseplants. If you have them, change the soil frequently.
  • Do not mow grass or rake the leaves around your child.
  • Repair leaky faucets and pipes or other water leaks.
  • Monitor the pollen count and have your child stay indoors mid-day when the pollen count is high.


  • Remove the pet from the child’s room at all times.
  • Take asthma medications if you can not avoid visits to family and friends with pets.
  • Wash your pet every week.
  • Choose a pet without fur or feathers.


  • Keep counters and floors free of food crumbs and keep food and trash in closed containers.
  • Avoid clutter such as piles of papers where cockroaches can hide.
  • Do not use pesticide sprays, foggers or bombs.
  • Use bug spray when your child is out of the house and completely air out the house before they return.
  • Use roach traps in areas that children cannot reach.

Strong odors and sprays

  • Avoid burning wood, incense and scented candles.
  • Avoid strong odors such as perfume, hairspray, paints and cleaning products.

Other triggers

  • Food allergies – Avoid foods your child does not tolerate.
  • Colds/The flu – Have your child get a flu shot each fall.
  • Cold air – Have your child cover his/her nose and mouth with a scarf on cold or windy days.
  • Emotional/Stress – Stressful situations which lead to changes in breathing can make asthma worse
  • Other medicines – Tell your child’s doctor about all the medicines your child takes.