How to Eliminate Airborne Allergens and Asthma

Airborne allergens and chemicals cause respiratory disease - inflammation in the nose and in the lung. Lung inflammation is often expressed as asthma. Air pollution, both indoor and outdoor, plays a significant role in the exacerbation of airway disease in asthmatics and may contribute to the overall increase in asthma morbidity.

Hospitalization for asthma has increased by 50% over the past 20 years, and deaths from asthma in the United States have increased to 5,000 per year. It is suggested that mortality is particularly high in lower socioeconomic groups who are exposed to higher levels of air pollution and have poorer access to early and effective medical care. Air-borne particulates may be major factor in the increasing morbidity from asthma.

In the past, medical textbooks divided asthma into inside and outside forms.

  • Extrinsic (outside) asthma tended to occur in sudden attacks triggered by exposure to airborne materials.
  • Intrinsic (inside) asthma seemed to occur continuously or in prolonged episodes for no apparent reason.

Here are the three most basic ideas concerning asthma causes and treatment:

  1. Asthma is an allergy until proven otherwise.
  2. Allergy comes from airborne and food sources.
  3. Solve asthma problems by improving air quality and with diet revision.

Air Sources

  • The spring or summer wheezing attacks of pollen sensitive patients is a form of extrinsic asthma, usually obvious to patients and allergists alike.
  • Indoor allergens often play a role in maintaining year-round asthma and may present as "intrinsic" asthma.
  • Allergy to house dust mites is a leading cause of winter asthma.
  • Cigarette smoke is always a major problem for asthmatics - the rule is NO SMOKING
  • Outdoor Air pollution is a growing concern.
  • Chemical exposure at work and home causes asthma and should be avoided
  • Pets are a source of dander, mites and dust and exposure may have to be limited.
  • Books, papers, clothing and stuffed toys add airborne allergens and chemicals to any room and should be removed especially from bedrooms.
  • Hot water and simple detergent are the best cleaning agents and should be used often (avoid strong smelling cleansers)

Molds

MoldMany species of molds that develop on organic materials such as fruits, grain, compost and wood can produce allergens and/or toxins that can produce respiratory disease. The main route of entry is through respiration of dust particles contaminated with the fungi or its spores. The main hazardous species belong to the families: Aspergillus, Penicillum, Cladosporium, Mucor, Stachybotrys, Absidia, Alternaria, Fusarium and Cryptostroma. The greatest risks are caused by the Aspergillus and Penicillum strains. Various strains of these families of molds have been implicated in being causative agents in asthma, hypersensitivity pneumonitis and pulmonary mycosis.

The greatest risks are to people working or living in areas of agricultural production and storage or wood-milling where large quantities of dusts and airborne particles are produced. Exposure to wood dust has been linked to the occurrence of adenocarcinoma of the sinuses and nasal tissues and the incidence of this disease is 1000 fold greater in woodworkers than in the general public. Certain types of woods can cause dermatitis, rhinitis, asthma and conjunctivitis. The greatest risks for the development of asthma is posed by the dusts of exotic woods and western red cedar.

Dust Mites

DustmiteThe droppings of dust mites are important allergens which can cause asthma in sensitized people. Dust mites live in bedding, carpets, stuffed furniture, old clothing and stuffed toys. They feed on human skin shedding. Dust mites are most common in humid climates and don't survive when the humidity is below 50%. If droppings of dust mites are inhaled or come in contact with the skin, they may cause asthma and/or eczema symptoms.

Steps to Control Dust Mite Allergens

  • Enclose the mattress and boxsprings in a zippered dust-proof encasing. Dust-proof encasings have a layer of material that keeps the dust mites inside the encasing. Encasings are usually made of vinyl or other plastics.
  • Wash all bedding in hot (130 degrees F) water, weekly.
  • Put the pillows in zippered dust proof encasings and/or wash the pillows weekly with the bedding.
  • Avoid lying on upholstered furniture or carpet.
  • Remove carpeting from the bedroom. Use wood, leather or vinyl furniture instead of upholstered furniture in the bedroom.
  • The person with a dust mite allergy should not vacuum or be in a room while it is being vacuumed.
  • Keep the indoor moisture low. The ideal humidity level is 30-40%. Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier in warm climates to decrease the humidity. Clean the dehumidifier regularly.
  • Humidifiers/vaporizers are not recommended because they will increase humidity in the room and create a favorable environment for dust mites.
  • Chemicals that kill dust mites can be applied regularly to carpeting and upholstered furniture. A tannic acid solution can help neutralize the allergen in mite droppings.

Air pollution

Air pollution has been shown to induce attacks of asthma in exposure studies of human volunteers. Ozone is an atmospheric pollutant that enhances the effect of inhaled allergens in asthmatics, suggesting that pollutants influence lung function by increasing airway inflammation. Over 50% of the United States population lives in areas which exceed air quality standards for ozone, nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, and particulates (as monitored by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency - EPA).

The above information is from Alpha Nutrition Online.

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