You keep a clean home, but your child still coughs and sneezes. That’s because house dust, pet dander, mold and dust mites can accumulate easily in the home, and are some of the most common allergens.

An allergen is usually a harmless substance capable of triggering a response that starts in the immune system and results in an allergic reaction.

For example, if your child has an allergy to dust, their immune system identifies dust as an invader or allergen. The immune system responds by releasing chemicals that typically cause symptoms in the nose, throat, eyes, ears, skin or roof of the mouth.

This reaction can become even more complicated if your child has asthma. About 25 million people in the U.S. have asthma, and allergic asthma is the most common type, affecting around 60 percent of people with asthma. Reactions to allergens can trigger inflammation (swelling) of the airways in your child’s lungs. This can make it harder for your child to breathe and can trigger an asthma attack.

If your child suffers from asthma or allergies, there are several steps you can take to minimize household triggers.

Dust & Dust Mites

To eliminate or reduce house dust, concentrate on your child’s bedroom.

  • Pay attention to stuffed animals – ideally you would get rid of all of them, but keep your child’s favorites and wash them often with hot water.
  • Put mattresses into a plastic dust-proof cover.
  • Cover soft materials, such as furniture and pillows, with dust-proof cloth covers that can be washed on high heat in the washing machine.
Mold

Mold can develop easily in homes along the coast where the humidity is high. Within a home that has many houseplants, mold also can develop from standing water.

  • Watch for leaks and standing water in other areas of the home, and try to fix them quickly. Some molds are not as obvious as black mold. Even laundry rooms can have leaks from washing machines.
  • Certain areas of Southern California have rains and flooding. If this is common where you live, watch for moist walls or water damage.
Pet Dander

Pet dander is composed of tiny, even microscopic, flecks of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals with fur or feathers.

  • Choose a pet without fur or feathers, such as fish or reptiles.
  • Consider keeping pets outdoors, or find a new home for the pet, if necessary.
  • Keep pets away from and off of fabric-covered furniture, carpets and stuffed toys.
  • Keep pets out of your child’s bedroom and sleeping areas at all times and keep the doors closed.
  • Wash pets weekly.

The Children’s Pulmonary Institute at Miller Children’s & Women’s Hospital Long Beach has a team of board-certified specialists in pulmonology, allergy and immunology, who work together to treat and improve the quality of life for kids with asthma and allergies. To learn more about how Miller Children’s & Women’s can help manage your child’s illness, call 1.800.MEMORIAL.