While spring has officially sprung in parts of Australia, it also marks the beginning of National Asthma Week.
The National Asthma Council Australia aims to help the 2.5 million Australians living with asthma all year round, but it’s a particularly important time of year to remind people to stay healthy as the temperature begin to rise and the weather starts to trigger those with living with both allergies and asthma.
In Australia, one in three people are impacted by allergies and unfortunately, many triggers are lurking throughout homes. Managing these health conditions is important and creating the best home environment possible by being aware of asthma and allergy triggers is important.
“Limiting your exposure to pollen – particularly in your home – can be a big help,” Adele Taylor, program manager of Sensitive Choice at the National Asthma Council Australia said in a statement. “Most people affected by spring hay fever are allergic to pollen, so reducing exposure to that trigger – particularly in your home – can be a big help.”
It is mostly older and unrenovated homes that are more likely to contain both asthma and allergy triggers, although making simple changes such as cleaning or using Sensitive Choice approved products can reduce allergens or irritants people encounter every day.
Sensitive Choice approved products have been assessed by an independent and voluntary panel.
“So, next time you go shopping, look for the reassuring blue butterfly on product packaging, including bedding, cleaning products, vacuum cleaners, and more,” Taylor said.
While specific triggers can vary from person to person, it is commonly grass pollen, dust and dust mites, animal dander, mould and moisture and fragrances including air freshener and chemicals (VOCs/PGEs) that cause the most problems around the home. Of those, dust mites and mould tend to be the most common triggers, although many Aussies aren’t aware that mould can be found in places around the home other than the bathroom.
“Mould is often seen in wardrobes, especially when there is an en suite or bathroom close by, therefore there is more moisture in the air,” Taylor said. “Also, don’t forget to look under beds and at the back of the pantry.”
As such, there are many things that can be done to reduce the risk of an asthma or allergy flare up. Where possible, wash sheets and pillowcases weekly in water hotter than 55°C, while covering mattresses, quilts and pillows with dust mite-resistant protectors. Also try to open curtains and air out bedding in the sunshine, while also being sure to give them a regular clean.
Speaking of curtains, opting for styles such as flat blinds, external shutters or venetian blinds can be a better option and easier to clean than heavier styles. And, when it comes to cleaning around the house, try to avoid feather dusters or dry dusting clothes, given that they tend to stir up dust. A better option is to use a damp or electrostatic cloth to clean hard surfaces.
When it comes to vacuuming the home, it’s always best to get someone without allergies to do it. Many are unaware that vacuuming can increase the number of allergens in the air for 20 minutes. If this can’t be avoided, using a vacuum cleaner with an asthma and allergy sensitive HEPA filter can help.
Finally, rooms around the house should be kept free of clutter and should always be dry and well ventilated.