There are more than 100 million people in the U.S. with asthma and/or allergies. Asthma is a long-term disease that causes inflammation and swelling of the airways. Asthma is one of the most common and costly diseases in the United States. An allergy is when your immune system reacts to a foreign substance. It could be something you eat, inhale into your lungs, or touch. Allergies are among the country’s most common but overlooked diseases. Many people with asthma also have allergies.
Your home can have a big impact on how well you manage your asthma and allergies. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) wants to help you make your home healthier all year long.
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The Importance of a Healthy Home
Allergy and asthma control begins at home. Allergens – substances that cause an allergic reaction – are the most common asthma trigger. When allergens trigger your asthma, it is called allergic asthma. When you have asthma or allergies, triggers in your home can cause asthma and allergy symptoms.
Having good indoor air quality is an important part of having a healthy living space. In the U.S., people spend about 90% of their time indoors. And your indoor air can be two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. Poor indoor air quality can worsen asthma and allergies.
It is also important to remember that while asthma and allergies can affect any person, they don’t affect everyone equally. There have been moderate advances in U.S. public policy, health care and research in recent years. But the burden of asthma in the U.S. falls disproportionately on Black, Hispanic, and America Indian/Alaska Native people. These groups have the highest asthma rates, deaths, and hospitalizations.
Reducing your exposure to triggers and managing your home’s indoor air quality is an important part of managing your asthma and allergies.
Do You Have a Healthy Home?
Many factors can affect your home’s health. Some asthma and allergy triggers are easy to spot. But there are other potential triggers in your indoor environment that can affect your asthma and allergies, including:
- Leaks under your sinks or mold in damp areas like your bathrooms and basement
- Fabric décor that can’t be washed, like throw pillows and blankets, large area rugs, drapes, etc.
- Scented candles, wax melts, plug-ins, or potpourri
- Wall-to-wall carpeting
- Clutter collecting dust and/or pet dander
- Mattresses that you’ve had longer than 10 years and pillows longer than two years
- Signs of pests, like cockroaches or mice
- First, second, or thirdhand smoke in your home
If your home environment contains any of these items, you may have allergens and irritants that could affect your asthma and allergies.
How to Make Your Home Healthier
AAFA’s Healthier Home Checklist is an interactive tool that provides tips on reducing asthma and allergy triggers in your home and improving your indoor air quality. Some tips include:
- Improve air flow in your home – leave interior doors open, run exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens.
- Establish regular cleaning routines to remove dust, pollen, animal dander and mold from your home.
- Keep windows closed during peak pollen times or during times of high outdoor pollution.
- Use CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® products (bedding, vacuums, cleaning products, flooring, paint, and more).
- Vacuum floors and mattresses weekly.
- Don’t let pets in the bedroom and never on the bed.
- Don’t allow wet towels or damp clothing to pile up.
You can find more tips to help make your home healthier at: aafa.org/healthyhome
This content was developed in partnership with the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). AAFA is the oldest and largest non-profit patient organization dedicated to saving lives and reducing the burden of disease for people with asthma, allergies and related conditions through research, education, advocacy, and support. Learn more about AAFA and our food allergy division, Kids with Food Allergies (KFA) at: aafa.org and kidswithfoodallergies.org
AAFA offers extensive support for individuals and families affected by asthma and allergic diseases, such as food allergies and atopic dermatitis (eczema). You can join our online patient support community at: aafa.org/join
Learn more about our asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program at: aafa.org/certified