How to Manage Extrinsic Asthma and Lead a Full Life

Quincy AdamAsthma Lifestyle

Asthma Family Dog
Too few people fully understand asthma, a disease that causes the airways to become narrowed, thus making it difficult to breathe.

The symptoms are temporary, but while they last you may experience:

  • Shortness of breath and trouble breathing
  • A full feeling in your lungs
  • A tickle that leads to coughing

If you have an asthma flare-up or attack that’s severe, emergency treatment may be necessary to relieve symptoms.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, an estimated 25 million individuals have asthma1 in the U.S.

Even with the treatments now available, many people, especially minorities, continue to suffer from uncontrolled or poorly controlled asthma2.

Extrinsic Asthma

There are two categories of asthma – extrinsic and intrinsic. The most common type is extrinsic asthma, which affects well over half of asthma sufferers and is triggered by allergies. A lesser-known type is intrinsic asthma, which is non-seasonal and unrelated to allergies. With extrinsic asthma, symptoms are brought on by an allergic reaction to stimulants such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, and mold.

When asthma is triggered by allergies, symptoms such as coughing and difficulty breathing can be alleviated with medication and by avoiding allergy triggers. Here are some ways to minimize common causes of allergies:

Dust Mites and Asthma

  • Use hypo-allergenic covers for your mattress and pillows.
  • Wash all bedding in hot water once a week to kill mites and their eggs.
  • Stick with synthetic materials instead of wool or cotton for your curtains, clothes, and linens.
  • Wash your child’s toys often.
  • Where possible, use hardwood or tile flooring. If you prefer carpet, choose short-fiber carpets such as Berber.
  • Never dry dust because this can kick the dust into the air and spread it around your home.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to capture more dust and mites.

Mold Spores and Asthma

  • Check faucets, pipes, and ductwork for leaks.
  • Remove decaying material that may accumulate in the yard, on the roof, and in your gutters.
  • Avoid yard work that can stir up mold such as raking, mowing or chopping wood.
  • If you cannot avoid yard work, make sure you wear a mask and goggles to block mold spores.

Pet Dander and Asthma

  • If it is safe and temperate, keep pets outside. Otherwise, choose hypo-allergenic pets who can live with you in the home.
  • If you already have pets that are not hypo-allergenic, do not allow them in the bedrooms, and certainly not on your bed or even furniture on which you spend a significant amount of time.
  • Wear masks and gloves when cleaning bedding, cages, and litter.
  • Wash your hands often and your clothes daily.
  • Change clothes after playing with your pets.

Cockroaches and Asthma

  • Keep all your food sealed and never leave it out on the counters.
  • Do not let food sit in trash cans for more than a day or two before taking it out.
  • Clean your counters, floors, and all kitchen surfaces at least once a week.
  • Seal all holes, cracks, and crevices where roaches may find access through the walls or ceilings.
  • Use pet and family safe pesticides and bait stations around your home.

Even if you or a loved one suffers from allergy-induced asthma, it doesn’t have to dictate your life! Following these basic tips may help in leading an active and healthy life and improving the day-to-day quality of life!


1“Asthma Facts and Figures,” Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, https://www.aafa.org/display.cfm?sub=42&id=8.
2“Ethnic Disparities in the Burden and Treatment of Asthma,” The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America and The National Pharmaceutical Council, https://www.aafa.org/pdfs/Disparities.PDF.