The 6 hidden dangers in your home that could trigger deadly emergency

AROUND one in 12 adults and children have asthma in the UK.

The condition makes it harder to breathe and could end in a potentially deadly asthma attack.

Simple treatments keep the long-term and incurable condition under control if taken correctly.

But the symptoms, including wheezing and shortness of breath, can be worsened by triggers everywhere – some of which are too close to home.

A sudden worsening of asthma symptoms could lead to an asthma attack, which causes three deaths in the UK every day.

Researchers in Australia have pinpointed the three main household triggers by reviewing 56 studies involving almost 138,000 people.

These were passive smoking, bedding and gas heaters, the team wrote in a piece for The Conversation.

It adds to several other key triggers, outlined below, that asthmatics should be wary of.

Passive smoking

It goes without saying that if you have asthma, you shouldn’t smoke.

But secondhand smoke – that exhaled by another smoker – is dangerous too, not only for asthmatics but everyone.

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The Australian researchers wrote: “The scientific evidence that shows active tobacco smoking is detrimental for asthma control is well understood by the general public.

"But people may be less aware of the effect of passive smoking on asthma.

“Breathing in smoke disrupts normal lung and immune system development and causes airway irritation. This can lead to asthma symptoms and other lung diseases.”


Your bedding may be a dust trap, aggravating your asthma throughout the night.

The researchers wrote: “The second most commonly reported household trigger was bedding from unnatural fibres, such as microfibre, nylon or acrylic materials. 

“Synthetic bedding items have higher house dust mite allergen levels than feather-bedding items.

“They also increase exposure to volatile organic chemicals. These are gases emitted from certain solids and liquids found in many household products. These gases can accumulate in higher concentrations inside and cause health problems.”

Gas heaters

Gas heaters, that are popular for heating one room in the house, can worsen asthma symptoms, the researchers said. 

They wrote: “Both flued and unflued [no extraction flue from the heater to outside] gas heaters can emit nitrogen dioxide gas that can irritate the respiratory tract and trigger asthma symptoms. 

“It’s better to get rid of gas heaters or heating systems, if possible, in households where asthma is an issue.”

Gas may also be used for cooking and is just as much of a concern, according to Asthma Australia, and is “comparable to the effect of smoking indoors” for childhood asthma. 

It says that gas use in the home is estimated to be responsible for up to 12 per cent of the childhood asthma burden in Australia.

Other form of heating the home that are unfavourable for asthmatics including open fires and wood burning stoves. 

It’s best to stick to central heating – but make sure the boiler is new and regularly serviced. 


Some 60 per cent of people with asthma say that it triggers their symptoms, according to Asthma UK.

The charity says: “In fact, the problem is dust mites which are tiny insects that live in dust. They’re too small to see and very difficult to get rid of altogether.

“It’s a substance in dust mite droppings that some people are sensitive to, giving them symptoms like itchy eyes, sneezing, or a runny nose.”

It’s impossible to completely avoid dust – you’d be cleaning the home all the time. 

But some easy ways to reduce dust mites are to wash bedding and anything soft, like toys, regularly at 60 degrees.

Use a damp cloth when dusting to prevent it from getting in the air, and keep windows open when drying clothes indoors, as dust mites like damp and humid environments. 

Mould or damp

Mould, which grows in damp homes, triggers asthma because the spores it produces can irritate the airways and lungs. 

It can also put you at higher risk of infections that later worsen asthma, such as a chest infection.

It’s one of the reasons why there is a link between poor housing and asthma, Asthma UK says, alongside poor heating.

The fungus grows in damp, warm places in the home. Damp occurs for many reasons, including rainy weather, cooking, and drying clothes indoors.

It’s also a result of condensation, particularly in the bathroom, or weaknesses in the home’s infrastructure, such as a leak or lack of insulation or ventilation. 

Dealing with mould in the home can be a difficult task. But there are simple things you can do every day to prevent it.

This includes opening a window when drying clothes indoors, using extractor fans and closing the door of the room you’re cooking in.

Aerosols and fragrances 

Aerosols, such as deodorants and cleaning products, are a nightmare for some people with asthma.

According to How To Use Inhalers, aerosols “generate an immune response” within the lungs which is responsible for inflammatory chemicals. 

Asthma UK says people with asthma are more likely to be sensitive to chemicals and fragranced products, which may include perfumes, nail varnish, other personal care products or even candles. 

The charity advises sticking to products that are non-aerosol and low fragrance, for both hygiene and cleaning purposes.

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