One of the most common diseases in first-world countries with symptoms often beginning in early childhood, asthma is a foe to be respected but not to be feared. This article is useful for those who have asthma and those who are reading to prevent it. Since it attacks children and is generally developed in our homes, there are a few things you need to know about asthma.
Asthma is a prevalent inflammatory disease of the airways that was known as long ago as ancient China and Egypt. Symptoms come in episodes distinctive for asthma and most commonly feature coughing, shortness of breath and overall tightness in the chest area. Asthma is a serious disease if left untreated and can lead to death.
If you or anyone you know have these symptoms, please contact your GP as soon as possible.
Because of the rising air pollution and lowered allergens resistances, asthma is on the rise especially in the USA and other developed countries. In 2014, around 24,000,000 people had asthma in the USA alone. Furthermore, the number of asthma diagnoses has increased by almost 60,000,000 cases in the period between 1990 and 2013 along with asthma being the underlying cause for around 490,000 deaths worldwide.
As you all probably know, asthma does not have a cure, but the symptoms can be dealt with, and it can be somewhat prevented. For those that do have asthma, it is imperative to use the inhaler correctly and to take any prescriptions your physician has prescribed for you regularly.
However, the causes of asthma are both genetic and environmental meaning that are ways to improve the quality of life for those who have asthma as well as a chance to prevent it from occurring in our children. I have been battling with asthma almost my entire life, and I think it is safe to say that the key is to improve the air in your home, the overall cleanliness and to avoid known allergens.
Try the following tips to improve the air in your home:
1. Get rid of the dust
Dust makes breathing difficult even for a healthy person so getting rid of it should be your first step. I am not implying that you should develop an overprotective cleaning disorder or that you will ever be able to clean all the dust. For visible results try to vacuum and dust your home as often as you feel it should be done but no less than once a week.
Vacuuming is especially important if your floors are covered with rugs or carpets. Dust in its own right is not as dangerous as the dust mites, tiny insects that primarily live in the dust. They are known to be found in bed sheets and pillow casings so you wash them on the highest temperature settings every few weeks. In kid’s rooms, try to have as few as stuffed animals as possible as they collect dust quite rapidly. A strong and quality vacuum cleaner is an absolute necessity for asthma patients; here’s a guide to best vacuum cleaners for your home.
2. Air conditioning
Air filtering is one of the most important factors you need to consider when dealing with asthma. Air conditioning units filter the air as a part of their basic operational methods. This is something that is clearly visible if you have ever washed the filters on your AC unit. The dark colors mainly come from dust particles and nicotine smoke.
Be careful, however, with overcooling a room in the summer. Extreme changes in the temperature are known catalysts for asthma attacks. Also, use the kitchen and bathroom exhaust systems because odors such as those from cleaners and other chemicals are an asthma hazard. Proper maintenance of all venting units in your home is a must and probably best left to be done by a professional.
3. Be careful with opened windows
Even though your instinct tells you that keeping an open window will increase the flow of air, the truth is that you are best off keeping your windows shut and relying solely on the AC unit. As I have mentioned earlier, the main triggers for asthma are air pollution and known allergens, such as pollen. Keeping the windows open is basically inviting the allergens in your home. Regularly check the air quality index, as it will tell you how likely your allergies are about to be triggered.
Since asthma can be purely genetic, some people do not suffer from pollen allergies and in that case it is advisable to leave a window open. The nights, being naturally colder, are an excellent time to keep an open window since a decreased temperature in the bedroom means there is a higher chance of getting a good night sleep. I have had some pretty severe night-time asthma attacks and have realized that if I keep the bedroom temperature at around 16-18C, I can mainly prevent them (asthma is a subjective disease, and this might not work for you).
With winter approaching, humidity becomes an issue in most homes. Cold air does not sustain humidity very well, and after warming up a room, the humidity drops as low as 10%. Dry air is quite hazardous for the respiratory system, especially one that is already battling with asthma. The best choice of action is to use a humidifier, preferably one with a monitoring system that tells you the exact level of humidity in a room.
On the other hand, too much humidity creates an even bigger problem for those who have asthma. Too much humidity creates a very habitable place for mold, a known allergen and a cause of asthma. In damp areas, such as basements, I recommend using a dehumidifier, as well as getting rid of any existing mold. For the optimum settings, humidity should be kept at around 30% to 50% (here is where the humidity monitoring system comes in handy).
5. Avoid any kind of smoke
If you have asthma, smoking is out of the question, but passive smoking can be as equally as dangerous. If you have asthma or someone else has it in your household, try to throw out the nicotine smoke completely. Not only will it make for a much better environment for the asthma patient but it also might convince the smoker to stop.
Furthermore, any kind of smoke is dangerous when you have asthma. This means that if you have the option of choosing, you should avoid heating your house with wood or coal stoves and furnaces. The carbon monoxide that is being produced from the exhaust pipe is not only lethal in high doses but very unpleasant coupled with asthma even in small doses.
Living with asthma
I know that living with asthma doesn’t seem very fair, and you probably feel excluded from normal life activities, but it’s really not the end of the world. If you are careful and you follow your physician’s instructions, your attacks could become very rare. Try to live your life as healthy as possible and your friends and family, whom you should definitely inform, are the only ones that are going to know you have asthma.
Do not let asthma run your life, feel free to enjoy some recreational sports, try a walk in the park (outside of the pollen season, of course) and breathe freely as if you own the entire world.
Featured photo credit: www.sbs.com.au via sbs.com.au