Asthma is currently the number one reason for emergency visits and school absenteeism among children.
National Asthma Week is held 1 – 7 Sept, and the Asthma Foundations Australia, through the support of Dyson and Harvey Norman, are calling out for families to share their stories of asthma.
Below are some simple tips that can help to asthma proof any home (from pets to plants), and also protect the family from allergens that cause illnesses such as hay fever and bring on asthma attacks. These are not only relevant to those families affected by asthma, but also to anyone concerned with general wellbeing and health.
There are many steps parents can take to asthma proof their home:
- Use mattress, pillow and doona protectors to help combat dust mites.
- Make sure your home is well ventilated to reduce moisture and mold (a key allergen). Open windows, use a fan to circulate air, use an extraction fans in the bathroom and while cooking.
- Cut down on dust – vacuum floors, upholstered furniture and mattresses regularly.
- Be careful what you spray (aerosols) and keep your home smoke-free.
- Have pets live outside if possible. If not (and we know it’s hard when they are part of the family) try to keep them out of the bedroom.
- Opt for these allergen-friendly breeds: Bichon Frise, Maltese, Poodles, Schnauzers and cross-bred ‘oodles’.
- Try to keep windows and doors closed during early morning hours, as this is when pollen-counts are the highest.
- Choose plants that are pollinated by birds and insects rather than wind, as they don’t release pollen into the air. These include most Australian natives and brightly coloured, large flowering plants.
- Generally avoid plants with strong fragrances (although Roses are an exception to this rule). Don’t plant jasmines and gardenias next to entrances or under bedroom windows.
- Weed the garden often, and avoid doing it on windy days when pollen will be airborne
- Stuffed toys are a favourite hiding place for dust mites. Once a month place them in a plastic bag and put in the freezer for 12 hours. Dust mites hate the cold. Then leave toys to thaw naturally, this will kill adult dust mites and stop them breeding.
- Curtains and blinds harbour dust and pollen, so clean them regularly using Dyson’s upholstery tool or a soft dusting brush attached to the wand of your vacuum cleaner.
- Indoor Houseplants can be hidden sources of mould. Be careful not to over water the plants, as dampness encourages mould growth. Mould releases spores into the air which can cause allergies.
- The grouting of your bathroom can turn a nasty orange colour due to mould and mildew growing in a high humidity. Make a paste from baking soda and water and scrub it onto the grout with an old toothbrush to return it to its original colour. Also, try ventilating your bathroom in future to reduce mould growth.