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More than 75 percent of adults with asthma either have poor control over their symptoms or no control at all, according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Massachusetts Asthma Advocacy Partnership (MAAP). Asthma attacks can range from mild to severe, but you can reduce your symptoms by eliminating triggers in your indoor environment. Americans spend as much as 90 percent of their time indoors, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), so improving the air quality at home and work can make a big difference.

Symptoms of Asthma

Several symptoms are common among people with asthma, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), including:

  • Chest tightness;
  • Shortness of breath;
  • Coughing; and
  • Wheezing.

If you experience any of these signs, you should speak with your doctor about getting diagnosed for asthma.


Eliminate Triggers at Home

  • Creating a Smoke-Free Home — According to the EPA, secondhand smoke can make attacks more severe and can increase children’s risk of developing asthma. Stop smoking or prohibit smoking in the home. You should also avoid wood smoke, whether from fireplaces or wood-burning stoves, since it similarly aggravates symptoms.
  • Getting a Handle on Mold Molds are fungi commonly found in moist environments. You should fix issues like leaky faucets and keep the overall humidity in your home low to reduce or prevent mold growth. If you find mold, remove it thoroughly.
  • Keeping Pets out of the Bedroom — Consider keeping your pets off of furniture and out of the bedroom to minimize exposure to dander.
  • Venting Fuel-Burning Appliances Outside — Long-term exposure to nitrogen dioxide (NO2), an odorless gas created by appliances like gas stoves and space heaters, can lead to chronic bronchitis, an inflammation of the airways. Use an exhaust fan or keep a window open when using them.
  • Ridding Your House of Pests and Dust Mites — Keep pests out of your house by sealing openings near or in cabinets and make sure that dishes, crumbs, and spills are cleaned right away. Wash your bedding in hot water once a week to get rid of dust mites.
  • Opening Windows or Doors When Cleaning — Many chemical irritants found in household cleaners, home improvement products, and cosmetics can either trigger symptoms or make them worse. Try unscented or hypoallergenic products, and keep rooms well ventilated while cleaning.


Eliminate Triggers at Work

According to the Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA), up to 15 percent of asthma cases in the United States are work-related. Occupational asthma symptoms can be triggered by common items like those that occur in the home or products in your workplace, including paints, insulation materials, adhesives, and environmental cleaning chemicals.

If you believe you have work-related asthma, you should consult with your doctor after asking yourself three questions:

  • Does your asthma get better on days away from work or on vacations?
  • Are there any materials, activities, or specific locations at work that make your asthma worse?
  • Does your asthma get worse over the course of the work week?

If you have work-related asthma, you can improve your symptoms by letting your employer know of your condition and reducing or eliminating exposure to your trigger by taking some simple steps:

  • Use cleaning products properly and suggest safer chemicals and cleaners when possible.
  • Wear personal protective equipment like face masks or respirators, goggles, and gloves while on the job.
  • Ensure your workplace has adequate ventilation systems.

Having control over your asthma symptoms can lead to better overall health. Work with your doctor to identify common triggers in your environment and create a plan to reduce your exposure.

Have you had success controlling your asthma symptoms? Share your tips by tweeting us @MassGov or comment below.

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