Natural Remedies For Asthma

A woman holding her asthma inhaler

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More than 25 million Americans have asthma. Asthma is a disease that affects your lungs and is common in children. However, adults can have it too. It can cause difficulty breathing, coughing, and a feeling of tightness in your chest.

Asthma attacks can have different triggers for different people. Depending on the severity of an asthma attack, medical attention may be necessary.

Often, you are prescribed medication to prevent asthma attacks. If you think you have asthma or have experienced the symptoms of an asthma attack, you should see a healthcare provider immediately.

“Asthma is reversible airway inflammation and airway muscle spasms that cause air trapping and difficulty getting the air out of lungs," says Purvi Parikh, MD, FACP, FACAAI, an allergist and immunologist with the Allergy & Asthma Network.

Causes of Asthma

Causes of asthma are known as triggers. Each person will have different things that can trigger asthma. Here are the most common asthma triggers.

Tobacco Smoke

Tobacco smoke is unhealthy to inhale, regardless of whether you have asthma or not. However, it can also be a trigger for asthma attacks. Tobacco smoke irritates the lungs, and if someone in your household smokes, it can worsen your asthma symptoms—even if you are not directly smoking it.

Secondhand smoke is when you inhale tobacco particles in the air, which can happen a lot in a household with a smoker. You should encourage anyone in your home, especially yourself, to quit smoking.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are microscopic bugs common to any household. If you are allergic to dust mites, there are a few things that you can do to prevent asthma and allergy attacks. First, you might invest in allergen-proof mattress covers and pillowcases and avoid down-filled bedding.

Second, you should wash your bedding weekly. This is just a healthy habit in general, but it also helps wash away any allergens on your sheets. When you wash bedding, you should also dry it thoroughly before using it again.

Air Pollution

Another trigger for asthma attacks is air pollution. This can range from factory smoke to campfire smoke and even car fumes. Campfire and wildfire smoke can trigger asthma attacks due to the mixture of gases coming off of whatever plants you are burning.

Factory smoke and car fumes can be equally triggering. Fortunately, you can usually check the air quality forecasts online and choose to plan your outdoor activities for days with lower air pollution levels.

Pests

Pests can also trigger asthma attacks. Pests are typically unwanted creatures in your home, such as mice or cockroaches. Pests often show up when you leave food crumbs around your house.

There are many ways to control pests, but sprays or foggers should be avoided, as they can cause asthma attacks.

Instead, try cleaning your counters, floors, and dishes. Throw away all food that has gone bad, and store leftovers in airtight containers.

Be sure to clean crumbs, spills, and dishes right away. Essentially, you will want to remove all food and water sources for the pests in your home.

Pets

Pets with fur can be a trigger for asthma as well, especially if you are allergic to them. It is not the actual fur that you would be allergic to, but the dander. You can decrease your exposure to pet allergens by washing your bedding, washing your pet, and cleaning your house often.

Another tip would be to keep pets out of the bedroom if possible, which will prevent you from sleeping in allergens. You can also limit the allergens in your bed by getting an allergen-proof mattress cover and pillowcase. It may further be beneficial to get an air cleaner with a HEPA filter.

Mold

Mold is an unpredictable asthma trigger because it can cause an asthma attack whether you are allergic to it or not. Breathing in mold should always be avoided if you have asthma. Mold grows in damp or water-damaged areas, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and basements.

It may be a good idea to clean your bathroom, mainly to scrub the mold off the tiles with detergent. You could also replace moldy tiles or carpet and fix water leaks if you are able.

Cleaning Products

Disinfectants can trigger an asthma attack because of the fumes that come off of them. To minimize disinfectant-related asthma symptoms, you might try cleaning with soap and water. If you prefer the disinfectant, you should be sure not to use too much of it.

Often, a small amount is all you need. Clean an area before applying the disinfectant, and never mix disinfectants. Avoid using bleach or fragrant products. Usually, hydrogen peroxide or ethanol cleaner will not cause asthma attacks.

Home Remedies for Asthma

Home remedies can work in addition to your medication to help you lessen symptoms. Here are some home remedies for asthma.

Allergen-Proof Bedding Covers

As noted above, dust mites and pet allergens can collect in your bedding and trigger asthma symptoms. Avoid this by getting an allergen-proof mattress cover and allergen-proof pillowcases.

This bedding creates a barrier between you and the allergens when you are sleeping. An 8-year study showed that bedding covers temporarily reduce the risk of asthma symptoms. Of course, you must wash these items weekly to avoid the buildup of dirt and allergens.

Air Purifiers

Air purifiers reduce the number of allergens in your home by filtering the air. They are great in homes with pets or lots of dust. While air purifiers are good for reducing allergens, they do not only affect people with allergies. They can benefit those with asthma too.

A recent study involving 30 children found that an air purifier worked well alongside asthma medication. Of course, children are not the only ones with asthma, so air purifiers can benefit anyone. 

Frequent Cleaning

According to Dr. Parikh, the best thing you can do to lessen asthma symptoms is minimize allergen exposure. She recommends cleaning your house often.

Frequent cleaning will remove allergens collected around your home, whether on the floors, counters, bedding, or elsewhere. You should plan one day per week to clean around your house to remove allergen buildup. 

Saline Spray

Neeta Ogden, MD, an allergy, asthma, and immunology specialist and director of the Allergy, Asthma, and Sinus Center, recommends using a saline spray to clear out allergens every night. A saline spray is simply a saltwater solution intended to clean the inside of your nose.

Saline sprays help to clear out allergens and bacteria, making them beneficial for those who have allergies. Because allergies can trigger asthma attacks, saline sprays can also benefit those who have asthma.

Essential Oils

Dr. Ogden also recommends peppermint or eucalyptus essential oils as a treatment for asthma. When experiencing symptoms, you should apply the essential oil to your chest and breathe in the steam.

The easiest way to do this is to stand outside your shower and run the shower with hot water. The essential oils and steam should help to provide moisture and open your airways. 

When to See a Doctor

If you experience trouble breathing, uncontrollable coughing, or a tight feeling in your chest, you should see a healthcare professional. These are symptoms of an asthma attack but could also be symptoms of something else that affects your body similarly. A healthcare provider can provide a diagnosis and recommend treatment.

A Word From Verywell

Natural remedies will help improve your everyday life, but they should not be used as a replacement for an appointment with a healthcare professional. They also are not a replacement for lifesaving medications.

Although natural remedies are often used in conjunction with an asthma treatment plan, you should talk to a healthcare provider about which options might be right for you. And, if you experience an asthma attack, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

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5 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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