During the winter months, colds, flu, sore throats, and respiratory illnesses become more prevalent, outdoor activities decline, family members are in closer contact with one another, and our homes are sealed up against the wintry elements. Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) declines as indoor airborne pollutants and indoor allergens increase. The accumulation of built-up antigens (allergens) within a home, typically cause family members to suffer adverse health effects. Recent research confirms the EPA’s claim that indoor air quality can be 100 times, or even in some cases, 500 times worse, than the outdoor air quality. Those persons prone to allergies and asthma suffer severely at this time of the year. Until the general public becomes aware of the dangers of polluted indoor air and then begins to demand the services, Home Indoor Allergen Control services, specializing in improving indoor air quality, will remain limited in numbers. The EPA, utilizing public service announcements, is presently promoting campaigns to educate the public on the dangers to health from poor indoor air quality.
Coinciding with the energy conservation practices initiated in the late 1970’s, including better insulated home-building construction methods, asthma (and asthma related deaths) among children has continued to increase, year after year, since 1980. Asthma cannot be cured, but it can be controlled through;
- patient/parent education
- allergy injections
- medications, and
- avoidance of “triggers”
Symptoms of Allergies
Symptoms ranging from itchy skin, stuffed up nasal cavities, runny noses, head or sinus aches, bouts of sneezing, sinusitis, irritated, watery and reddish eyes, puffy, swollen or discolored eyelids, wheezing, a “tight” chest, scratchy throats, raspy voices, dry unproductive coughs, feelings of lethargy, mental fatigue and even depression are not uncommon. These symptoms may only result in temporary, or day to day, discomforts for some. Yet these discomforts, even if minimal, can now be controlled, at a low cost and without over-the-counter allergy medications, a huge revenue source for the pharmaceutical companies.
More importantly, without utilizing the benefits of home indoor allergen control, the nearly 50 to 60 million American’s (one in five) who suffer from allergies are at great risk of becoming afflicted with even more permanent, life long, ill-health effects including; asthma, bronchitis, perennial rhinitis (hay fever), eczema, dermatitis, sinus infections and other serious health issues, looming in their future.
Asthma and the Differing Types of Asthma
By overlooking the need for home indoor allergen control, children, the elderly, and persons with weak immune systems (even if just temporary) are at a high risk of developing long term medical afflictions. Although 4 to 5 million children, knowingly suffer asthma attacks yearly, asthma remains one of the more common chronic diseases of childhood and is often undiagnosed amongst children. There are as many types of asthma as there are “triggers” that can cause asthma attacks, but basically asthma is classified as either “intermittent or “persistent” asthma.
What is very important for parents to realize is the possibility of your child having “hidden” asthma a condition that exists before wheezing, coughing and rapid breathing become noticeable. Since infants and toddlers cannot verbalize how, or what, they are feeling, “hidden” asthma may be very hard to diagnose, even by your family physician. Irritability in very young children can mean many different things but, like a guttural cough or rapid breathing, could also be a sign of respiratory difficulties.
So how do you know if your child has signs of developing asthma or “hidden” asthma?
Pay attention! Become knowledgeable of the symptoms and alert to the possible triggers. Although it may be difficult to notice any tell-tale signs with children under the age of 18 or 24 months, there are definitive symptoms to look for in older children. Wheezing, for one you may think…but not necessarily so, is a prime characteristic found in asthmatics, yet it’s not necessarily the most common symptom. Coughing is a particularly prominent indicator and wheezing may not be readily noticeable to parents or the family physician, even through a stethoscope. Children with a history of bronchitis, pneumonia, respiratory infections, numerous and constant bouts of coughing (particularly at night or in cold weather when asthma conditions tend to worsen) should be thoroughly checked for asthma. Coughing immediately after vigorous activities such as running, or even a long-lasting spell of crying, are also signs that should be noted and may require a physician’s evaluation for asthma. Family history, especially a history of allergies or asthma, genetics, the child’s moods and actions, responses to foods and possible allergy triggers, must all be communicated to a physician in assisting to determine whether a child may be susceptibility to asthma.
Infants and toddlers with a past histories that include chest colds, bronchitis, pneumonia, chronic coughing or unusual breathing patterns, either shortness of breath or rapid breathing, should be tested for asthma as well as other respiratory diseases. Keep in mind, as active as toddlers and pre-schooler’s tend to be, it may be very difficult to discern the limitations of physical activities. Pulmonologist’s, performing lung function tests on very young children, still find it difficult to ascertain an asthma diagnosis, but these tests may still reveal airway obstructions. Asthma, brought under control, allows children to live more active lives without frequent asthma attacks.
Common Home Indoor Air Pollutants Resulting in Asthma and Allergies
Through education and knowledge, basic common sense, and recent technological innovations, the removal, reduction, and control of the following worst pollutants and allergens, will greatly improve Home Indoor Air Quality and the health of the home occupants. Of the nearly 50 – 60 million American’s suffering from allergies, 20 million or so, are allergic to household dust and/or the particulates that make up household dust. Guanine, a potent and harmful allergen produced by dust mites and found in their fecal pellets and exoskeletons, is a major contributor. The most common indoor allergens include:
- Dust and Dust mite allergens
- Second-hand cigarette smoke
- Pet dander
- Molds and mildew
Education will allow homeowners to gain the knowledge of just how these allergens accumulate. By simply changing practices and habits, methods can be easily integrated into the present home lifestyle to minimize the amount of unhealthy allergens and thereby improving the quality of health for the home occupants. To a degree, housekeeping practices have evolved over the past generation or two. Kitchen areas have tested to be the most bacteria ridden parts of a home.
Our bedrooms, especially within the mattresses that we sleep upon one-third of our life, are the dirtiest and nastiest. Mattresses and the micro-climatic ecosystem within them, provide all the creature comforts that allow dust mites to live, thrive and breed while producing the antigen guanine, the worst offender and most harmful of all indoor allergens. Our grandparents can recall the days when mattresses were carried outside to have the “dust” literally beaten out of them and then placed in the sunlight for a naturally cleansing. Nowadays, aside from both parents working full-time jobs, mattress technology has evolved to the point that mattresses are too heavy or too bulky, to tote outside even if there is an area that exists where the mattress can be placed for “cleansing”. Carpeting accumulates many allergens as well, however carpeting does not provide the micro-climatic ecosystem that dust mites require. Regular vacuuming assists in controlling built-up allergens in carpeting, but only if the proper vacuum is used.
Home Indoor Allergen Control Technicians
Mattress cleaning technicians, trained in the removal, reduction, and control of home indoor allergens are in an excellent position to not only offer their much needed services, but to also help educate the general public on methods of improving and sustaining healthier lives by simply improving home indoor air quality.
The above information is not intended as medical advice. If you or your family members experience any of the above symptoms, please see a medical professional. Excellent information is available from either the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI) or the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (AAAAI).