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Asthma

Smoke still lingering in a house

06/22/2009

Question:

My 1 year old daughter has been diagnosed with childhood asthma. She has been fighting this for some time now and we have pin pointed the problem to my mother in law smoking. She usually flares up about a week after being around my mother in law and has to be on a breathing machine for at least two - three weeks. My mother in law smokes outside when she comes for a visit but my daughter is still bothered but it. However she has been smoking in her house for years and years. Now that we have asked her to quit smoking inside, do you think my daughter will still be affected by the smoke odor in her house that has already accumulated in there and on furniture and in carpets? I have read other articles that say the smoke odor on my mother in laws clothes could still bother her but that is right after she has smoked. She is no longer smoking in the house as of today and we will be visiting in one week. Do I have anything to worry about with my daughter or since she stopped smoking in the house before we got there, would my daughter be okay?

Answer:

Your mother-in-law's effort to totally stop smoking in her home should help your daughter.  It is difficult to say whether there is absolutely NO chance the residual smoke in the house will be a problem for her - it should be much less of a problem, however.  

Usually when flares are triggered by a particular exposure (smoke, allergy, etc.) they occur within 2 days of exposure.  It's difficult to know whether the visits to your mother-in-law are the only culprit behind your daughter's symptoms.  If she is having prolonged or frequent bouts of cough and wheeze, and your doctor feels it is related to asthma, be sure to ask about medications that would help prevent those symptoms at your next doctor visit.

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Response by:

Elizabeth D Allen, MD Elizabeth D Allen, MD
Clinical Associate Professor of Pediatrics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University