Asthma attacks are the leading cause of hospitalizations for children in New York City, according to the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Asthma attacks may be caused by air pollution, extreme temperatures, and even roach droppings. Allergy-causing organisms can cause changes in the immune system that result in asthma attacks, too.
Fortunately, while some hospitalizations are unavoidable, they can be minimized, and even sidestepped, by following some simple tips:
- Choose non-toxic cleaning products. Using four or more household cleaners can increase the incidence of asthma in adults and children. However, children breathe at a faster rate than adults, which puts them at greater risk for harm. Look for environmentally-friendly cleaning products with non-toxic ingredients.
- Avoid scented products. Incense, perfumes and air fresheners, fresh paint, and new carpeting can cause breathing problems. Just because something smells good, doesn’t mean it can’t be potentially dangerous.
- Air things out. Open the windows after cleaning your home with chemicals. Children should breathe fresh air as much as possible at home. Many people believe that the smell of bleach implies a clean home or nursery, but it can actually be harmful.
- Don’t smoke. Households with children should be “no smoking” zones. If you smoke cigarettes, make it your goal to quit. Never allow guests to light up in your home.
- Make your home fur-free. Keep pets with fur or hair out of the home. If you must have a pet, limit your child’s time with it. Keep the door to your child’s bedroom closed at all times.
- Keep food in the kitchen. Food should be stored and eaten in appropriate locations. Don’t let your children eat in their bedrooms or other rooms where food can attract allergy-causing roaches.
- Turn on the AC. Use air conditioners when possible, but avoid humidifiers. Humidifiers can be a breeding ground for unhealthy molds.
- Spread the word. Ask those who care for your children, like babysitters or relatives, to take the above precautions in their own homes. This is especially important if your child spends a lot of time there.
- Get vaccinated. Children who have had 12 or more severe respiratory (lung) infections in the first few years of life are at a significantly increased risk of asthma. To reduce the risk of lung infections, asthmatic children should get the flu shot every year.
- Wash up. Frequent hand washing by both parents and children can lessen the risk of childhood lung infections. Make an effort to teach your kids this healthy habit as early as possible.