Simple changes can make home safer for asthma sufferers

    If you’re especially sensitive to allergens and still mopping up—and drying out—after Irene, Dr. Reynold Panettieri says take precautions.

    Panettieri leads the asthma program at the University of Pennsylvania.

    He says a quick cleanup is important after flooding to prevent the damp conditions that promote mold and other asthma triggers.

    Sometimes, though, it can be hard to pinpoint the source.

    “People might have been down in the basement watching a sporting event but then start to wheeze six to eight hours later, and that may be the late phase response to the allergens,” Panettieri said.

    Chest tightness, cough and wheezing are the most common asthma symptoms.

    “If those symptoms are worsening, if people are reaching for their rescue inhaler more often these are all indications that maybe there are triggers in the house,” Panettieri said.

    This week he worked with Habitat for Humanity in South Philadelphia to build an “asthma safe” house.

    He says there are simple and inexpensive alternatives to make a home more comfortable for allergy sufferers. Blinds are better than drapes, for instance, and hard floors are less dusty than carpets.

    Panettieri also recommends changing the HVAC filter every month. Most homeowners do that chore only once or twice a year.

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