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If you or someone in your family has allergies or asthma, offers tips to help make your home a better place to breathe easier.

Identify Triggers
One major step is figuring out what causes yours or a family member’s allergy or asthma attacks. Different people will react to different allergens and irritants (things that can irritate the lungs). Consult a doctor about tests to learn what exactly is causing a reaction. Once you identify these triggers, you can take steps to get rid of or avoid those things in your home.

Make Bedrooms Safer
We all spend a lot of time in our bedrooms, so work to keep allergens and irritants out of yours.

  • Cover your mattresses and pillows in “dust proof” or “allergen proof” covers to combat allergens, namely dust mites.
  • Wash all bedding in very hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit) once a week. Go to a laundromat if the water in your home doesn’t get that hot.
  • If you have pets that you’re allergic to, like cats or dogs, keep them out of the bedroom.
  • If possible, remove all carpets; it’s easier to keep bare floors clean.

Control Moisture
Keep your home dry to prevent mold. Mold, a common asthma trigger, can start to grow in wet or damp places within just one or two days.

  • If you have a water leak, clean up the water immediately. Fix the leak as soon as possible.
  • When you take a shower, run the bathroom fan or open the window for at least 20 minutes afterward.
  • Check the humidity level in your home with a moisture or humidity meter (available at hardware stores). You may need to use a de-humidifier or air conditioner to keep the humidity level below 60 percent–between 30 and 50 percent is best.
  • Safely clean mold or throw out moldy items. You may need to consult a specialist for bad cases.

Keep Pests Out
Rodents and cockroaches might cause allergy or asthma attacks, among other health issues, so practice pest prevention.

  • Fix leaks in sinks and toilets.
  • Put trays under your plants, radiators and refrigerator. Check the trays for water and clean them often.
  • Store food, including pet food, in closed containers.
  • Clean up crumbs and spills right away.
  • Fill in cracks or holes that could be good indoor hiding places for pests.
  • Put screens in your windows and doors.
  • If you see roaches or rodents, call a pest control company.

Go Smoke-Free
Tobacco smoke, including secondhand smoke, can make asthma worse. And babies who live in homes where people smoke are at higher risk of developing asthma. If you smoke, make a plan to quit today. If you have guests who smoke, ask them to do so outside.

Breathing too much smoke from a wood-burning stove or fireplace can also cause an asthma attack. If you can avoid it, don’t burn wood in your home.

For more help, consult a doctor about managing allergies or asthma.