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Home Environment Assessment Program

Mobile Care Chicago provides patients and their families with home assessments that help to identify household factors that may aggravate asthma and allergy symptoms. Below are strategies for mitigating that most common factors, recognizing that many things can trigger asthma and allergy responses and those things may change over time.

Dust & Dust Mites

  • Put your mattress and pillow in an allergy-proof cover
  • Reduce clutter, toys, stuffed animals and collections in bedrooms
  • Don’t sleep on upholstered furniture
  • Wash bedding in hot water (130F) every week
  • Wash or place stuffed toys in freezer overnight every couple weeks in a Ziploc bag
  • Remove carpet & rugs if possible
  • Vacuum & use a damp cloth to dust weekly
  • Change furnace filters regularly
  • Replace curtains with blinds

Furry or Feathered Pets

  • We recommend being tested for pet allergies (Mobile Care can do the testing at no cost) before owning furry or feathered pets. If a pet pre-exists testing, bathe furry pets and vacuum with HEPA vacuum once a week, every week.
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom/bed at all times
  • Take allergy medicine (antihistamine) 1 hour before going to a relative or friend’s home with pets

Mold & Mildew

  • Repair leaks and clean visible mold with a stiff brush, hot water, and soap
  • Ventilate bathroom and kitchen by using an exhaust fan
  • Use a dehumidifier (set the humidity level between 25-50%. Empty and clean regularly)
  • Do not use humidifiers or vaporizers
  • For outdoor molds: avoid handling wet leaves, mulch, soil or garden debris (or wash hands and arms well after such handling)

Pollen

  • Check the pollen count, and be aware of time spent outside when pollen count is highest (between 5am-10am in certain seasons).
  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning during high pollen days
  • Keep an eye on local weather and pollen counts.  Dry, windy, sunny days increase the pollen count, Rain or cloudy conditions tend to keep the pollen numbers down.
  • Don’t hang clothes out to dry during times of seasonal allergies
  • Take antihistamine seasonally as needed

Pests: Cockroaches & Rodents

  • Keep counters, sinks, tables, and floors clean
  • Clean dishes, crumbs, and spills
  • Store food in airtight containers
  • Cover trash cans
  • Use baits that are not powder or sprays

Pollution

  • Check Air Quality Index (airnow.gov) and limit  exercise and outdoor activity on poor air quality days
  • Close windows on poor air quality days or during construction near your home
  • Enforce “No Idling” policies for buses and cars near schools
  • Hot and humid days can worsen the effects of pollution and pollen, take precaution outdoors on those days

Stress & Strong Emotions

  • Practice breathing/relaxation techniques
  • Take steps to reduce stress if possible

Smoking

  • For people who have asthma or are living with people who have asthma, smoking is especially harmful. There are many ways to quit, and we recommend attempting it (QUITLINE: 866-QUIT-YES)
  • Don’t allow smoking in your home and especially in the car or around a person with asthma
  • Wear a smoking jacket or smock each time you smoke outside and leave it outside the home
  • Wash your hands and face after smoking

Cold Air

  • Wear a scarf in cold weather that covers mouth/nose
  • Dress appropriately for the weather
  • Take medication as prescribed

Strong Chemical Odors

  • (This includes: Perfumes, plug-ins, hairspray, cleaning products, candles, incense, aerosol sprays)
  • Clean the house with mild, white vinegar based cleaning solution (Mobile Care can provide a recipe for this)
  • Use ventilation or open windows when cleaning
  • When possible, clean when the person with asthma is not home

Questions? Contact Kamari Thompson, Patient Services Manager, at kthompson@mobilecarefoundation.org.

More about Mobile Care Chicago’s Home Environment Assessment Program

Over 75% of people with asthma have “allergic-asthma,” a condition in which inhaled allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, mold, pollen, and tobacco smoke can trigger airway inflammation. If certain allergens are present in a patient’s general environment, they can complicate medical treatment and reduce the effectiveness of asthma management medications.

Since Mobile Care Chicago’s allergy clinics provide allergy skin testing, we can help. Mobile Care Chicago offers Home Environment Assessments to identify and remove allergy triggers, and works with the American Lung Association of Illinois to address issues in the home that may cause on-going breathing difficulties.