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Merck Manuals Offers Guidance on Eliminating Asthma Triggers

KENILWORTH, N.J., July 8, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Asthma is one of the most prevalent chronic conditions afflicting children in the United States, and it's becoming more common. The condition, defined by narrowing of airways in the lungs, is brought on by specific triggers and allergens. These triggers can cause asthma attacks and play a role in patients developing asthma in the first place.

Patients and parents are rightfully focused on identifying specific asthma triggers for themselves or their children and eliminating those triggers from the home. But more and more research suggests environments that are too clean can actually limit children's tolerance of certain allergens. This effect, known as the "hygiene hypothesis," may lead to children with limited exposure to allergens developing asthma.

Emily J. Pennington, MD, Cleveland Clinic and author of the Merck Manuals chapter on asthma, offered some insight for parents and patients wondering how far is too far when it comes to eliminating asthma triggers at home.

Households with no asthma – moderation is the best approach

In a new editorial on, Dr. Pennington suggests taking basic steps for families with no one suffering from asthma at home. Keep your house clean by vacuuming regularly, changing air filters and minimizing dust and pet dander. But you don't need to go to extreme measures like giving away family pets, tearing out all your carpets and throwing away your pillows and drapes.

And remember that it's actually healthy for kids to get sick from time to time and put their immune systems to work.

Households with asthma – focus on finding the trigger

If someone in the house does suffer from asthma, it's critical to identify the triggers and work to eliminate them as much as possible.

Common household asthma triggers include:

  • Inhaled allergens (such as dust mites, animal dander, particles from feathers, and pollen)
  • Irritants (such as cigarette smoke, perfume or air pollution)

Most doctors will recommend keeping an asthma diary to help pinpoint exposures or activities that cause an individual's asthma. That can serve as a jumping off point for eliminating those triggers from daily life.

Identifying other asthma triggers

If you've eliminated household asthma triggers and asthma symptoms are still not under control, talk to a doctor about what else may be causing the condition. Other triggers like severe weather and stress may be more difficult to eliminate but can still be controlled.

The best way to identify specific asthma triggers and maintain effective treatment of asthma symptoms is to investigate and understand the basics of the condition and have an informed conversation with your doctor.

About The Merck Manuals and MSD Manuals

First published in 1899 as a small reference book for physicians and pharmacists, The Merck Manual grew in size and scope to become one of the world's most widely used comprehensive medical resources for professionals and consumers. As The Manual evolved, it continually expanded the reach and depth of its offerings to reflect the mission of providing the best medical information to a wide cross-section of users, including medical professionals and students, veterinarians and veterinary students, and consumers. In 2015, The Manuals kicked off Global Medical Knowledge 2020, a program to make the best current medical information accessible by up to three billion professionals and patients around the world by 2020. For access to thousands of medical topics with images, videos and a constantly expanding set of resources, visit or and connect with us on social media:
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About Merck

For more than a century, Merck, a leading global biopharmaceutical company known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, has been inventing for life, bringing forward medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to health care through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. Today, Merck continues to be at the forefront of research to advance the prevention and treatment of diseases that threaten people and communities around the world - including cancer, cardio-metabolic diseases, emerging animal diseases, Alzheimer's disease and infectious diseases including HIV and Ebola. For more information, visit and connect with us on TwitterFacebookInstagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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SOURCE The Merck Manuals