Respiratory illnesses are a common problem among children and adults. According to the CDC, asthma affects roughly 6.8 million children in the U.S. The CDC also states that 8.7 million adults in the U.S. have chronic bronchitis and 6.8 million have been diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. Cigarette smoke can irritate respiratory conditions and make it difficult to breathe, but it's not the only breathing risk around. These are some other common irritants that can affect your respiratory system.
These microscopic creatures lurk in your furniture, bedding, carpets and other parts of your home. They typically like to stay near food sources, which are skin flakes shed by people and pets. If you're allergic to dust mites, you can end up coughing and wheezing when you're exposed to the particles these mites leave behind. While you can't get rid of these mites completely, you can reduce their numbers with routine cleaning, including vacuuming and washing bedding in hot water. If you're sensitive to dust mites, put a mask on while you vacuum and stay out of the room afterwards for about a half-hour to let the remaining dust settle.
Pollen allergies can irritate your lungs and lead to coughing fits. Spring and fall are the main times that pollen allergens are found in the air. Tree pollen is around during spring, while ragweed pollen is around during fall. Grass pollen can also trigger allergic reactions and breathing problems. If you're sensitive to pollen, avoid or limit being outside on hot, windy days or during the morning hours when pollen counts are higher. Keep in mind that you can also bring in pollen from outdoors on your clothes and shoes, so it's important to clean these items and your floors and furniture often.
Pet dander from cats or dogs can cause allergic reactions and bother your lungs. This happens when you have a reaction to proteins found in oil glands, which pets shed as dander. You might experience breathing difficulties and sneezing when exposed to pet dander in your home or someone else's home. Since dander is found on upholstered furniture, bedding, carpets and clothing, keeping these items clean can reduce allergic reactions. Pets can also irritate your respiratory system if you're sensitive to proteins in the saliva they produce, which stick to their fur.
Mold spores can cause respiratory problems when you inhale them, especially if you have asthma. These tiny spores are found in the air and can spread throughout your home via air ducts and vents when you have the heat or air conditioning on. You're most likely to find mold growth in damp areas, such as bathrooms and basements. You can reduce mold growth by using exhaust fans in your bathrooms, putting a dehumidifier in your basement and changing the filters on your furnace and air conditioner.
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