The biggest single cause of an asthma attack is the faeces of house dust mites.

There are several things you can do that may control dust mites. Whether they are relevant to you will depend on the causes of your allergy and the severity of the attacks.

  • Buy allergen-barrier bedding covers which can be damp dusted. These are available from some local Asthma Societies or Air-Flow Products (see below).

  • Have a carpet-free bedroom - or even a carpet-free home - and regularly wet-mop the floors.

  • Damp dust every week. Alternatively, use your vacuum cleaner's dusting brush. Avoid feather dusters, which create a cloud of dust.

  • Choose a vacuum cleaner with a sealable and disposable dustbag.

  • Vacuum carpets and soft furnishings at least once a week with a cleaner that has a good filtration system such as HEPA, S-class or replaceable micro-filters (see below). The vacuuming probably won't remove the live mites, as they are very good at clinging to soft surfaces, but it does remove the faeces.

  • If possible, get someone else to vacuum. If not, open the windows and wear a mask, then leave the room and let the air settle for 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Ensure the cleaner's dust compartment is emptied regularly (by someone else).

  • Steam-cleaning carpets and upholstery may reduce the levels of dust mites for a short period, but the residual water left from the cleaning may promote fungal growth, which can also trigger asthma.

  • If you or someone in your household is asthmatic, your doctor can organise an allergy test.