Updated 01 November 2017

7 asthma triggers to watch out for

House-dust mites, cockroaches, pollens and outdoor moulds, tobacco smoke and indoor pollens are common asthma triggers - here is what you can do to avoid an asthma attack.

Animal dander, house-dust mites, cockroaches, pollens and outdoor moulds, tobacco smoke and indoor pollens are common asthma triggers.

What action can you take to avoid or eliminate them?

One of the first step in controlling and managing your asthma, is to identify and avoid these triggers.

Asthma allergens can be identified by a skin prick test (SPT) or by a blood test known as the RAST test.

These tests to identify your asthma allergens can be done from an early age. The notion that an infant's allergens can only truly be identified from the age of three, is not true.

These tests can be done with great benefit on infants of six months.

Triggers of Asthma

1. Animal dander

  • Don’t keep a family pet, or make sure the animal stays out of the asthmatic’s bedroom.
  • Seal or cover air ducts leading to the bedroom.
  • Fit air filters.

2. House dust mites

  • Cover mattress and pillows with an impermeable cover.
  • Wash bedding once a week in boiling water.
  • Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50%.
  • Remove carpets.
  • Opt for wooden rather than upholstered furniture.

3. Cockroaches

  • Keep a clean house! Don’t leave out any crumbs for the critters.
  • Use poison traps to control any stray cockroaches.

4. Pollens and outdoor moulds

  • Stay indoors when the pollen count is high.
  • Install air-conditioning.

5. Indoor mould

  • Fix all water leaks.
  • Clean mouldy surfaces.
  • Reduce indoor humidity to less than 50%.

6. Tobacco smoke

  • Don’t allow smoking in your home or car.
  • Discuss ways of minimising exposure to smoke at work.

7. Indoor pollutants

  • Discuss ways to reduce exposure to wood burning stoves, perfumes, strong chemical cleaners

(Source: Allergy SA)


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Professor Keertan Dheda has received of several prestigious awards including the 2014 Oppenheimer Award, and has published over 160 peer-reviewed papers and holds 3 patents related to new TB diagnostic or infection control technologies. He serves on the editorial board of the journals PLoS One, the International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease, American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Medicine, Lancet Respiratory Diseases and Nature Scientific Reports, amongst others.Read his full biography at the University of Cape Town Lung Institute

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