About Asthma

Asthma is a disease in the lungs that causes people to wheeze, cough, have trouble breathing, and sometimes die. During an asthma attack, the airways are swollen and the muscles around them tighten, and they produce a thick yellow mucous. It is the most common chronic condition among children, and is slightly more prevalent among African-Americans than Caucasians.

Causes in Your Home

Asthma attacks can be triggered by dust and dust mites, cockroaches, mold, pet dander, rodents, tobacco smoke, and air fresheners in your home. Additionally, they can be triggered by cold weather, exercise, and stress. While asthma is not contagious, it is hereditary, meaning it runs in families. If you have asthma, it is likely your child does as well. Children living in crowded or unclean conditions, and African-American children in low-income families are more at risk for developing asthma.

Preventing Asthma Attacks

There is no cure for asthma, so it is important to know how to prevent attacks. You should keep a clean home by making sure there is no dust, mold, smoke, or other triggers, vacuuming with an HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Air) filter, keeping food stored in tightly sealed containers, cleaning crumbs, drips, spills, and dirty dishes immediately, and fixing water leaks.

Keep people with asthma away from dust, dust mites, and smoke by using allergen resistant mattresses and pillow covers, keep pets away from sleeping areas and clear hair from carpets and furniture, do not smoke in your home or car and keep tobacco smoke away from children, change bed sheets often, and vacuum and dust while people with asthma are out of the room.

It is important to get proper medical advice and follow the doctor's instructions. See your doctor when you or your child has breathing problems, seek emergency help for bad attacks, shortness of breath, and wheezing, be sure to take any prescribed medication, and find out what allergies you have and follow instructions to prevent allergic reactions.

For more information, visit the EPA or HUD.