Healthy Home Program

Allergies and Asthma

Allergies and Asthma- What are they?

Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the airways that can cause coughing, wheezing, and shortness of breath. An estimated 26 million Americans – 7 million of them children – suffer from asthma. They account for 500,000 hospital visits each year, and three to four thousand deaths are attributed to complications of this disease annually. These deaths often result from sudden, severe asthma attacks that are not treated quickly or properly by the patient or emergency providers.

Did you know: Difficulty breathing, including asthma exacerbation, is one of the most common reasons people call emergency services. Airflow obstruction is reversible, but witnesses must act quickly to call for help and assist because there is a high risk of respiratory arrest during an asthma attack.

Key Highlights

  • Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition that causes narrowing of the airways and increased mucous production.
  • Millions of Americans, both adults and children, are diagnosed with asthma.
  • An asthma exacerbation is one of the most common reasons people need emergency services.
  • Airflow obstruction during an asthma attack is reversible.
  • There is a high risk of respiratory arrest during an asthma attack.
  • A witness will have little time to diagnose the cause of a breathing difficulty.

Normal Respiration- What is it?

In a healthy person, air flows freely in and out of the lungs through the bronchial tubes.  Oxygen enters the lungs through the bronchial tubes, which deliver air to the alveoli, where oxygen and carbon dioxide are exchanged via blood vessels in the lungs. These blood vessels circulate oxygen throughout the body. Carbon dioxide released by organs and tissue is absorbed by capillaries and returned to the lungs, where it is expelled through the bronchial tubes.

Physiology of Asthma- What is it?

Asthma restricts the patient’s airflow, generally due to inflammation of the bronchi and bronchioles and increased mucous production. Asthma can be caused by common allergens like pet dander or mold; asthma of this type (extrinsic asthma) involves an immune system response. Asthma can also be caused by factors such as stress and cold air; this type of asthma (intrinsic asthma) does not involve an immune system response.

Chronic Inflammation- What is it?

In asthma patients, the bronchial tubes may be hypersensitive to external irritants or other triggers. These stimuli can cause the bronchi to become inflamed, leading to contraction of the smooth muscle of the bronchial tube and increased mucus production by bronchial cells. Chronic inflammation can also cause scarring of the lining of the bronchial tubes.  An asthma attack, called an exacerbation, results in an airflow obstruction.

Symptoms of Asthma- What are they?

Asthma exacerbation causes symptoms such as shortness of breath even when resting, or the ability to speak only in phrases or single words. A patient may experience agitation, confusion, an increased respiration rate, or rapid pulse. These symptoms help to indicate the patient’s level of distress.

Related Terms:

  • Alveoli
    • The ends of the bronchial tube or tree where oxygen and CO2 exchange occurs.
  • Anaphylactic
    • Often severe and sometimes fatal systemic reaction in a susceptible individual upon exposure to a specific antigen (as wasp venom or penicillin) after previous sensitization that is characterized especially by respiratory symptoms, fainting, itching, and hives.
  • Bronchi
    • A part of the respiratory system through which air flows to and from the lungs.
  • Bronchospasm
    • A reaction in the airway during which the smooth muscle contracts, the bronchioles constrict, and excess mucus is produced.
  • Exacerbation
    • A worsened or more severe condition.
  • Pneumothorax
    • The presence of air in the pleural space around the lung that restricts a patient’s ability to breathe due to increased pressure on the affected side.

What can I do to help reduce allergens in my home or place of work?

There are three basic strategies to help get started:

  1. Source control- Give us a call for a IAQ assessment and allergens sampling test. *
  2. Improved ventilation- Give us a call to install proper mechanical ventilation for you space or building. *
  3. Air cleaners- Give us a call for professional air cleaners, whether it’s portable or ducted. *, **

*Never attempt to do this on your own without advisement from an air quality professional/ expert like Indoor Air Quality Associates. Buying or attempting to do this on your own, has proven to be inept and a loss of financial investment while leading to worsened outcomes in our experience at Indoor Air Quality Associates.

** Some products that are marketed and sold by companies claiming a single product solution. These typically can cause more harm and exacerbate the disease. Products might claim the following: use of ozone, hydroxyls, dry hydrogen peroxide, Hydroxy radicals, hydroperoxides can only exacerbate the disease or can additionally create a harmful environment. Professional assessments, and professional equipment are critical do a working solution.

What tasks you can do on your own to get started?

  1. Clean floors frequently. *
  2. Dust furniture regularly. *
  3. Clean the refrigerator. *
  4. Wash the dishes daily.
  5. Clean cabinets and countertops routinely. *
  6. Wash bedding or linen often.
  7. Clean curtains and blinds regularly.
  8. Replace your mattress every 7-10 years.
  9. Clean toys often. *
  10. Store toys and items not used often in bins.
  11. Scrub sinks, shower stalls, and tubs. *
  12. Wash rugs and mats regularly.
  13. Clean toilets often. *
  14. Bathe your pets regularly.
  15. Brush your pets hair outside.

* When using cleaning products, or chemicals attempt to use natural cleaning products. Always use proper personal protective equipment (PPE) when cleaning. Fresh air ventilation is very important when cleaning, we call it a “air flush”.




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