Asthma Fact Sheet

What is Asthma?

The airways in our lungs help us to breathe. People with asthma have airways that are very sensitive to things like cigarette smoke, strong scents, dust, or household pets. When people with asthma come into contact with one or more of the things that bother their airways, they may wheeze, cough, and have trouble breathing.

The good news is that people can learn to control their asthma. If you or your child has asthma, there are things you can do to control your asthma at home, school, or work. By doing these things, you and your family may have to make some changes in the way you live. Talk to your primary care doctor or nurse for advice to help you make these changes.

What Can I Do?

Don't Smoke

  • Ask people not to smoke in your home or around you.
  • If you smoke, ask your primary care doctor or nurse for help to stop.


  • Wash bed sheets, pillows (filled with polyester fiber), and blankets in hot water every other week.
  • Vacuum carpets often, but not when the person with asthma is nearby. If possible, remove rugs and carpets from the bedroom.
  • Dust bedrooms weekly with a damp cloth.


  • Keep all pets out of the bedroom of the person with asthma.
  • Wash pets, if possible, each week.


  • Remove any mold and mildew in your bathroom and kitchen. Use cleaning products that do not contain chlorine bleach. White vinegar cleans well and is a good choice.
  • Do not use humidifiers or vaporizers in the bedroom of the person with asthma. Avoid damp areas.

Strong Scents

  • Don't paint inside the house when the person with asthma is home.
  • Don't use perfumes and scented products.
  • Don't use aerosol sprays such as deodorants and hair sprays.


  • Rid your home of cockroaches. If you live in an apartment, work with your landlord or tenants' group to make sure your building is kept clean and pest-free.

Understanding Your Diagnosis

Search our health library to learn more about a medical condition or symptom

These resources can help answer many of your questions about asthma:

What Can Care Management Do For You?

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Work with your Well Sense Care Manager to learn how to manage your asthma. Our Care Management Program is is offered at no cost to our members, and it’s just a phone call away. Call 1-855-833-8119 to see if you or your family members are eligible for this program.

Care Management