Asthma-friendly products: Do they really help?

Asthma-friendly products: Evaluate the claims before you spend your money.

By Mayo Clinic Staff

If you have asthma, your doctor may suggest that you take steps to control asthma triggers in your home. Asthma-friendly products may seem like a good step, but you may be wondering whether they really work and if they're worth the cost.

Many manufacturers claim that their products reduce asthma triggers. There's more evidence for some products than for others. Here are some tips to keep in mind before spending your money.

Identify whether a product is likely to reduce your particular triggers

Each person's asthma is set off by certain pollutants or allergy-causing substances (allergens). Common household asthma triggers include:

  • Dust mites, which build up in carpet, upholstery and bedding
  • Dander from pets such as cats, dogs and birds
  • Cockroaches
  • Indoor molds
  • Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) — gases released by paints, carpets, other household products and e-cigarettes
  • Wood and tobacco smoke

If you're thinking about buying a product that claims to reduce your risk of asthma symptoms, it's important to find out which substances cause problems for you. For example, if dust mites trigger your asthma, you may benefit from a mattress cover that helps contain or eliminate them. But paint that releases lower amounts of VOCs into the air might not be as important. Some products, such as air cleaners and washing machines, help remove several common asthma triggers.

If you're like most people with asthma, you have multiple triggers. If you're unsure about which triggers affect you, your doctor may recommend allergy skin testing to identify them. This will give you a better idea about what household triggers you need to avoid.

Do some research

When deciding whether a product is worth the money, don't just rely on claims from the manufacturer. Look for objective product reviews. Use your own judgment and consider your doctor's advice about what products are likely to make a difference. Some places to get information before making a purchase include:

  • Your doctor or other health care professional
  • Consumer Reports, a nonprofit organization that evaluates and rates products and services

Take other steps to eliminate your asthma triggers

Unfortunately, eliminating asthma triggers isn't as easy as buying an air filter or a mattress cover. You'll never completely get rid of all triggers in your home. Using certain products may help, but other steps are just as important:

  • Control trigger sources. Learn what steps to take to limit your exposure to pet dander, rodents, cockroaches, cigarette smoke or other things that trigger your asthma.
  • Clean regularly. Thorough cleaning is critical to keeping asthma triggers at bay. Wash toys and bedding in hot water, and vacuum on a regular basis. Use a vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, if possible.
  • Maintain the products you have. Follow instructions on cleaning and maintaining appliances such as vacuum cleaners and air filters.

Have allergies, but not asthma? These tips may still apply

Some household allergens that trigger asthma can also trigger signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever), such as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, and sneezing. Products that claim to be asthma-friendly may also reduce allergy triggers.

July 23, 2019 See more In-depth