Prevention At Home
Caroline Ganley, Exra Glenn, & Evelin
City of Lawrence
you know that Massachusetts has the third highest rate of
asthma cases in the U.S.? Here in the commonwealth,
one out of every ten people has asthma. No wonder
we hear so much about it. According to the
Massachusetts Asthma Planning Collaborative, asthma is
the most common chronic illness among children and one of
the major reasons for missed school days in the United
Luckily, with proper medical attention and education
programs, asthma can be successfully managed. As of
yet, there is no known cure. Therefore, public health
officials continue to focus on treatment and the
prevention of recurring attacks.
Asthma is a disease of the airways. Once you have
the disease, certain things can trigger an asthma attack.
What causes this disease in the first place? This has
long been a mystery to scientists. But much is
known about what can trigger or cause an
asthma attack. This means that health officials
must focus on prevention.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health has been
reaching out to cities and towns, spreading the word on
prevention. In particular, DPH is focusing on
environmental triggers things that can cause an
asthma attack. These may be found in your home or
yard. Exposure to dust mites,
cockroaches, cats, tobacco smoke, dogs, mold, nitrogen
dioxide and viruses are all known to make asthma worse
in other words, to trigger attacks.
Here are some helpful tips for improving your home
Dont Smoke Indoors. It may sound obvious, but
dont smoke indoors especially in front of
children. A number of recent surveys found that young
children with asthma are still being exposed to second
hand smoke. If anyone in your household has asthma, do
not smoke indoors or in the car.
Get Rid of Dust Traps. Dust mites are tiny
bugs invisible to the naked eye.
They live in rugs, on furniture, in mattresses and
pillows. Remove wall-to-wall carpeting to expose a
wood or tile floor. Vacuum and clean the floors
regularly. If you must have a rug, choose an area
rug and vacuum and clean it often. Regularly vacuum
furniture using the upholstery brush. Be sure to clean
curtains and wipe down woodwork and walls at least twice
each year. Your goal is a dust-free home. Finally,
use dust-mite prevention covers for your mattresses and
pillows these are now widely available.
Use Perfume-Free Cleaning Products. Many people
with asthma are sensitive to perfumes
in cleaning products. Be sure to use laundry
detergents, bath soaps, shampoos and all other cleaning
products without perfumes. These are readily
available in grocery stores.
Use HEPA Filters in Your Vacuum. Most vacuum
cleaners are now designed to use a HEPA filter which
prevents dust from escaping the vacuum. Be sure
your vacuum cleaner has a HEPA filter.
Exterminate Properly. Be sure to keep a clean home
with carefully stored food and lid-tight containers for
garbage storage, etc. If you have a roach problem,
hire a licensed exterminator. If you rent in
Lawrence, your landlord is responsible for extermination
and must use a state-licensed exterminator. Roaches
and other vermin pose serious public health threats and
must be gotten rid of.
Get Rid of Mold. Be sure your walls, floors,
ceilings and cellar are dry. Proper building
maintenance is a must. If a roof or wall leak occurs, use
heating equipment and fans to dry it out right
away. This will prevent mold from setting in.
In New England, it is normal to have a pleasantly musty
smell in a cellar or basement. However, your house
or apartment should not smell moldy or musty. (If your
cellar is unusually damp or wet, use a de-humidifier and
be sure to clean and empty the water tray often.)
In Lawrence, the Board of Health is forming a prevention
team with other city departments and health providers. We
will be working to remind everyone that improving your
housing conditions can also help reduce asthma in our
*Send your questions comments to ValleyPatriot@aol.com
The November, 2006
Edition of the Valley Patriot
The Valley Patriot is a Monthly
All Contents (C) 2006, Valley Patriot, Inc.
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