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How to Make an Asthma-Friendly Bedroom

Your bedroom can harbor allergens like dust mites, dog hair, and cat dander. Find out how to reduce and eliminate these allergens.

The bedroom can be an asthma nightmare, harboring allergens that trigger asthma attacks and allergic reactions. But with proper planning and some strategic changes, you can eliminate the culprits and restore sweet dreams.

Eradicating Dust Mites: The Starting Point

One common source of allergic reactions is the microscopic dust mites that thrive in the fabrics of most bedding.

"One way you can reduce dust mites is to remove excess fabric from your room — and the fabric you do have, you must wash weekly in very, very hot water,” says Felicia Rabito, PhD, MPH, associate professor in the department of epidemiology at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine in New Orleans. That means washing all bedding — sheets, blankets, pillows, comforters — in hot water and drying it on the highest setting.

In order to fully protect your bedroom from dust mites, you should also:

  • Avoid down feather pillows and comforters and remove carpeting from the bedroom. If you do have carpeting, be sure to vacuum at least twice a week.

  • Replace upholstered headboards and other furniture with hard surfaces like wood or plastic, instead.

  • Invest in zippered, dust-proof covers for your mattress and pillows, and tape over the zippers with electrical or duct tape to keep dust out.

  • Make sure all napping and sleeping takes place in your allergy-proof bedroom, not on cloth-covered furniture or cushions.

  • Keep your children from sleeping with stuffed toys, and wash the toys weekly in hot water.

Neutralizing Other Asthma Triggers

Limiting exposure to dust mites is the first step, but most people with asthma have multiple triggers. Reducing exposure to all asthma triggers is the goal.

A study published in March 2017 in the Journal of Asthma and Allergy reviewed the importance of avoiding indoor triggers like mold, pets, cockroaches, and rodents, in addition to dust mites.

High humidity in particular leads to a worsening of asthma symptoms, called an exacerbation, because where you find humidity, you find not just an increase in dust mites, but also mold.

Mildew, pet hair and pet dander, cockroaches, and rodents can also trigger an asthma attack.

The problem is that doing what it takes to remove so many allergens from your home and bedroom can be expensive, Rabito adds. You can prioritize though. For example, some people are very allergic to cockroach droppings, so for them, eliminating cockroaches from the home is important.

Try a three-pronged approach to fighting these pests: Prevent cockroaches from entering the home, don’t leave food where they can get to it, and use roach traps or sprays to kill them.

You can also reduce allergens in the bedroom to help prevent asthma attacks by:

  • Keeping pets out of your bedroom — in fact, keep pets outside as much as possible.

  • Maintaining humidity below 50 percent, as dust mites and mold thrive in high humidity.

  • Tossing out clutter, or knick knacks, which accumulate dust.

  • Removing wood-burning stoves from your home.

  • Keeping the windows closed.

  • Forbidding smoking in your home.

  • Drying out and repairing damp or water-damaged areas to remove mold and mildew.

Turning bedrooms into allergen-free zones can make a real difference in your family’s health and significantly reduce the likelihood of an asthma attack. Then you can all sleep more soundly.
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