In Case of Emergency

If you or someone you know is suffering from an asthma attack, get to an emergency room or call 911 immediately.

Asthma

Asthma is the most common chronic health problem in children.  It affects 9.6% of children nationally and is the leading cause of visits to the emergency room and missed school days.

Rates of asthma continue to increase. Children, females, African-Americans, the poor, and urban dwellers and disproportionately affected. Asthma is a life-long condition but can be managed by monitoring and controlling environmental triggers.
 

What is Asthma?

Asthma is a common chronic inflammatory disease of the airways characterized by a variety of recurring symptoms that make if difficult for the affected person to breathe. Common symptoms include wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and shortness of breath. Asthma is caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

Symptoms can be prevented by avoiding triggers, such as allergens and irritants. Asthma triggers vary from person to person. Common triggers found in many homes include:

  • Dust and dust mites
  • Animal dander
  • Cockroaches
  • Mold and moisture
  • Cigarette smoke
  • Fragrances, including air fresheners
  • Cleaning products


Who is at Risk?

Asthma affects people of all ages, but symptoms usually start during childhood. There are 25 million people with asthma in the United States, 7 million of whom are children. Asthma is the most common chronic health problem in children.

Children who have asthma have increased emergency room usage and hospitalizations for respiratory problems.

Older and distressed homes are more likely to contain asthma triggers, many of which can be repaired or eliminated through simple changes.


Symptoms

Wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing, asthma attack.


Health Impacts

Asthma is a life-long disease that can be managed, but not cured. Symptoms and attacks can disappear for a period of time but asthma does not. It can return at any time.


Solutions

Most people with asthma are able to live normal, healthy, and active lives by limiting their exposure to triggers, using preventive medicine, and following the guidance of their doctor.  Controlling environmental triggers in the home can reduce the reliance upon medicine.  Some strategies include the following.

 

Dust Mites

  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain humidity at 50% or below.
  • Encase pillows and mattress in allergen covers.
  • Wash bedding once a week in hot water.
  • Remove wall-to-wall carpeting in bedrooms.
  • Use a damp mop or rag while dusting.
  • Vacuum using a HEPA filter to trap allergens.
  • See here or more information.

 

Mold

  • Use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to maintain humidity at 50% or below.
  • Vent bathrooms and dryers to the outside. Run bathroom and kitchen vents while bathing and cooking.
  • Check regularly for leaks in faucets, pipes and ductwork. Repair as needed.
  • See here for more information.

 

Cockroaches & Mice

  • Keep food, garbage and pet food in tightly sealed containers.
  • Never leave out food or dirty dishes.
  • Eliminate water sources such as leaks.
  • Mop and wash floors and surfaces at least once a week.
  • Limit food areas to one room in the house.
  • Seal up crevices around the house.
  • Use bait stations and low risk pesticides to control pest population.
  • See here for more information.
  • To learn more about using Integrated Pest Management (IPM) to get rid of pests, contact Healthy Homes.

Did You Know...

One out of every ten school-aged children has asthma.

Resources

10 Steps to Make Your Home Asthma Friendly(53 KB)

Simple steps to make your home more friendly for people with asthma.

Asthma Home Environment Checklist(168 KB)

A checklist for the Environmental Protection Agency to help you assess your home for asthma triggers.

Asthma and Secondhand Smoke(578 KB)

A brochure from the Michigan Department of Community Health about asthma and secondhand smoke.

Healthy Homes in the News

Parents, a Healthy Homes Coalition board member, and staff were all featured on a Michigan Radio news story. We are sharing it here in case you missed it.

In the words of one of Healthy Homes’ newest board members, grandparent Lisa Matthews, "“People think (lead) is a small problem, but it’s a very big problem. I know it takes time to do something about it … I’m just sayin’ what are we going to do now?”

Healthy Homes is eager to begin working with the City and community partners to implement the solutions recommended in this report.


Join the Healthy Homes Team!

The Healthy Homes Coalition is looking for a Community Organizer to support Parents for Healthy Homes as they advance equity and safety for our kids by promoting policies, investments, and systems that put an end to substandard housing for Grand Rapids families.


Spotlight: Lisa's Peer Education visits take off!

Lisa Matthews' reputation as a connected community member precedes her - she has been helping her neighbors get access to, and navigate, area resources for years.  Among the important community work Lisa dedicates her time to, she has made providing her neighbors with lead education visits as a community educator one of her priorities.  She has been instrumental in helping the peer education group she is a member of complete 44 peer-to-peer lead education visits in a matter of months...