Allergies and asthma don’t always go hand in hand, but most people who have asthma also have allergies. Those allergies can trigger breath-stealing asthma attacks.
Things like pollen, mold, and animal dander can set off an allergic reaction in some people that results in hives, itching, sneezing, and wheezing. When this reaction occurs in the chest, it’s called asthma. In the lungs, allergic reactions cause spasms and thick, sticky mucus. When an asthmatic has an attack, his lungs feel clogged and twitchy, and his chest feels tight.
Though not all people with asthma have allergies, those who do should identify their allergic triggers and avoid them.
Some of the more common asthma triggers to avoid:
Foods like chocolate, nuts, shellfish, and eggs.
Beverages like orange juice, beer, wine, and milk.
Mold spores and pollen. When pollen counts are high, try to stay indoors as much as possible.
Dander from pets such as cats, dogs, hamsters, and rabbits. If you can’t bear to part with your family pet, try to keep it outside and bathe it often.
Feather pillows, down comforters, and wool clothing. Use smooth blankets on your bed.
Dust. Damp dust and damp mop instead of using brooms that raise dust. Use washable fabrics for curtains and rugs.
Cleaning products like bleach and furniture polish.
Avoiding your triggers may help you avoid the chest-squeezing experience of an asthma attack.
Source: Allergy and Asthma, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Milwaukee (1995)
Some states in the US have laws that regulate specific areas of the larger indoor air quality and indoor air pollution issue. Other states are considering laws that would effect citizens of their state. On a national level, Federal OSHA has looked into developing a specific standard on ” Exposure to Indoor Air Pollutants” but thus far, this effort has been unsuccessful. Worldwide, laws and regulations regarding indoor air pollution vary widely.
What is Indoor Air Pollution?
Indoor air pollution from a human perspective is generally defined as poor indoor air quality which has the potential to cause an acute or chronic illness or symptom of illness in a person as a direct result from exposure to a airborne pollutant.
What are some of the indicators of Indoor Air Pollution in my home?
The three most common complaints regarding Indoor Air Pollution are:
* Feeling better when leaving the home or worse when arriving
* A dusty environment where the furniture stays dusty even after cleaning
* Ongoing or unidentified odors
What are some of the health symptoms of Indoor Air Pollution?
Symptoms could include but not be limited to:
* eye, nose, or throat irritation
* dry cough
* dry or itchy skin
* dizziness and nausea
* difficulty in concentrating
* sensitivity to odors
* chest tightness
* fever and chills
* muscle aches
The symptoms can be clinically defined and have clearly identifiable causes. It is important to note that complaints may result from other causes. These may include an illness contracted outside the home, acute sensitivity (e.g., allergies), job related stress, and other psycho social factors. Nevertheless, studies show that many symptoms can be caused or exacerbated by indoor air quality problems.
Do chemicals create Indoor Air Pollution?
Most indoor air pollution comes from sources inside the home. Over 75,000 chemicals are used in common household cleaning products, only a fraction have been tested for human health concerns. Some of the most common chemicals found in household cleaners are also the most toxic. Recent studies have shown an alarming amount of chemicals accumulating in people’s fatty tissues, these are the same chemicals known to cause serious health concerns, from immediate and through long term exposure. Chemicals enter the body through skin absorption and inhalation of fumes or vapors. Once a chemical enters the body, your system usually has to process it. Many chemicals have a target organ which they migrate to. Some organs are made to process and filter; others are not.
Can mold and other living organisms cause health problems and allergies?
Yes, biological contaminants such as bacteria, molds, pollen, insect parts, dust mites and viruses are types of biological contaminants. Certain biological contaminants may breed in stagnant water that has accumulated in ducts, humidifiers, and drain pans, or where water has collected on ceiling tiles, carpeting, or insulation. Insects and dust mites are a common source of biological contaminants which can accumulate in bedding, furniture, and carpeting. Physical symptoms related to biological agent exposure include cough, chest tightness, fever, chills, muscle aches, and allergic responses such as mucous membrane irritation and upper respiratory congestion.
What should I do if I have a serious Indoor Air Pollution problem?
You may consider having a professional Indoor Air Quality Consultant perform a Phase 1 Environmental Assessment. It is common for a experienced consultant to find the source of your problem during a simple Phase 1 visit. In harder cases it is sometimes necessary to complete a Phase 2 Environmental Assessment which would involve detailed inspection of such areas as the attic, the crawl spaces, air handling equipment and so on. Some direct reading testing instruments and simple laboratory samples could also be taken during a Phase 2 Assessment. At any point, the consultant may have sufficient information to formulate a hypothesis, test the hypothesis, and see if the problem is solved. Recommendations are then prescribed to assist the homeowner or building owner with a plan of action to control the issue in the future.
Is air sampling the easiest way to identify indoor air pollutants?
Although air sampling for contaminants might seem to be the logical response to occupant complaints, it doesn’t always provide information about possible causes. While certain basic measurements, e.g., temperature, relative humidity, CO2, and air movement, can provide a useful “snapshot” of current house conditions, sampling for specific pollutant concentrations is often not required to solve the problem. Air sampling should not be undertaken until considerable information on the factors listed above has been collected, and any sampling strategy should be based on a comprehensive understanding of the house or building structure and the nature of the complaints. For example; When taking a laboratory or direct reading sample it may be more important to qualify (identify) certain pollutants than to quantify (count) the pollutant.
About the Author:
The Sick House Center is a resource and information center about indoor air pollution and it’s effect on allergies. Take the Indoor Air Pollutant quiz at the Sick House Center.
Allergic asthma is believed to be the most common form of asthma affecting over 10 million asthma sufferers worldwide. Over 3 million children under age 18 suffer from allergic asthma. Allergic asthma is characterized by symptoms that are triggered from some type an allergy. Allergy related asthma is airway obstruction and inflammation that can be controlled with medication. Indoor related allergic asthma can occur when allergens that are commonly found indoors are inhaled into the nose and the lungs thus causing an allergic reaction.
Indoor Air Allergens
Cat or dog dander
Dust mite feces
Dead insect parts
and much more
Symptoms of allergic and non-allergic asthma can be similar:
Shortness of breath or rapid breathing
However, the major difference between allergic asthma and asthma is that an asthma attack can be triggered by inhaled allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold and other airborne triggers thus resulting in asthma symptoms.
Controlling allergies and asthma in public can be quite challenging, however controlling them while at home in very manageable. It is important to learn about the methods and technologies available to reduce indoor air triggers in your own home environment. Inside your home is the only environment which you have full control over your environment. After all it is the place we sleep and spend most of our most time; why shouldn’t it be free of allergy and asthma symptoms.
Technology to the Rescue
Utilizing the proper technology combined with the knowledge of how to use that technology will make the greatest reduction of asthma causing allergens in the home environment. Many asthma allergens fall into the broad category of airborne particles which must be removed from the environment on an ongoing basis. High Efficient Particle Air (HEPA) filter technology can drastically reduce asthma symptoms within days from their initial use. However, HEPA filtration devices must be used regularly to keep the asthma causing allergens at bay.
About the author:
Stan K. Hall is a recognized specialist in Indoor Air Pollution as well as Health & Safety in the home. He has performed over 400 indoor environmental evaluations over the past 26 years and has helped hundreds of homeowners make their homes a haven. He is widely known as the originator of T.E.A.M., the scientifically proven approach to controlling and resolving indoor air pollution. You can read more about allergies and asthma at his web site: Sick House Doctor.
breathing techniques for children with asthma and allergies