Wintertime Triggers, Part 3 of 3

Hello everyone, hope you all had a safe and wonderful Christmas! Here is the final installment of our 3 part series about Wintertime Asthma & Allergy Triggers. In the previous posts we covered the seasonal weather related triggers (including the cold weather itself, cold viruses and infections, and exercising outside), and the Holiday season related triggers (like air fresheners, food allergies, and Christmas decorations). Now we’re going to go a bit more in depth about triggers lurking indoors like pests, pets, and dust mites.

Pests (we’re talking of the varmint and insect variety, not of the “5 year old nephew hyped up on major sugar overload” variety) can attack even the cleanest of homes and include unwanted rats, mice, and roaches- just like you they are trying to escape the blistering cold winter winds. Rats and mice (like any furry critter) produce allergens like dander (dead skin flakes) and urine. Cockroach droppings contain a protein that is a main trigger of asthma symptoms. The fix: call the exterminator (but don’t let them hear the panic in your voice, their prices usually correlate to your level of hysteria), keep food crumbs to a non-existent minimum, and block any cracks/crevices where they may be gaining entry.

Next up is man’s best friend: pets. It’s a common misconception that it is the fur causing those allergic reactions, but it is actually the allergen found in the dander, saliva, and urine of your little furry friend. The fix: find Fido and Fluffy and new loving place to call home, or confine them to the great outdoors. If that isn’t an option then at the very least keep them out of the bedroom- where you spend most of your time, and off furniture. Also have someone else wash and brush them weekly.

Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in dust, and like cockroaches their droppings are a common allergy & asthma trigger. The fix: Don’t provide them a space to flourish. Cover mattresses and pillows in airtight covers. Use this as a reason to get rid of that worn out carpet and replace it with those beautiful hardwood floors you’ve been dreaming of. Wash bedding and curtains in hot water every week or so and dry in HOT dryer. Also simplify and remove clutter that collects dust, and dust weekly with a damp cloth (it’s also recommended to wear a dust mask when doing so). And vacuum often.

The triggers discussed in these 3 posts are the more common, but don’t include all of the threats. Be sure to talk to your doctor about allergy testing to find out what YOU need to watch out for. Did we miss any important triggers/information about the ones listed? Be sure to let us know below and we will remedy that in a jiffy!

Sources:
Dinnall, Alres. RN, M.Ed. “Breathe Easy This Winter!”
Asthma. Web. 17 Dec. 2010. <http://www.hnewhizkidz.com/ACE/ASTHMA/winter.htm&gt;
Bouchez, Colette. “Breathe Easily: Winter Asthma Advice.”
WebMD. 13 Nov. 2007. <http://www.webmd.com/asthma/features/breathe-easy-winter-asthma-advice&gt;
Seidman, Howard. “Asthma Triggers Lurk Indoors in Winter.”
MyOptumHealth.com. 10 Nov. 2008. <http://www.myoptumhealth.com/portal/Information/ item/Asthma+Triggers+Lurk+Indoors+in+Winter?archiveChannel=Home/Article&clicked=true>
Unknown. “Handling the Holidays.” Coping with Allergies & Asthma Nov 2010: 8-10.
Frea, Rick. “Watch Out For These Four Cold-Weather Asthma Triggers.”
HealthCentral. 30 Nov. 2009. <http://www.healthcentral.com/asthma/c/52325/95013/weather-triggers>
Dr. Rob. “Wheezing in a Winter Wonderland.” MSN Health & Fitness. 16 Nov. 2006.
<http://health.msn.com/health-topics/asthma/articlepage.aspx?cp-documentid=100148802&gt;
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