What types of environmental control of allergens are used in the treatment of asthma?

Updated: Oct 07, 2019
  • Author: John J Oppenheimer, MD; Chief Editor: Michael A Kaliner, MD  more...
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Allergen avoidance takes different forms, depending on the specific allergen size and characteristics. Improvement in symptoms after avoidance of the allergen should result rather rapidly, although the allergen itself (eg, cat dander) may linger in the environment for months after primary removal of the source. A multifaceted approach is necessary, as individual interventions are rarely successful by themselves.

Efforts should focus on the home, where 30–60% of time is spent. Patients should clean and dust their home regularly. If a patient cannot avoid vacuuming, he or she should use a face mask or a double-bagged vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air filter. 

Active smoking and exposure to passive smoke must be avoided. Room air ionizers have not been proven to be effective for people with chronic asthma, and the generation of ozone by these machines may be harmful to some. Specific factors related to the home are described below.

Guidelines on work-related asthma from the European Respiratory Society advocate exposure elimination as the preferred primary prevention approach, with reduction to exposure as the next best option. A screening and surveillance program should be established for workers at risk of asthma. [33]

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