Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Children with asthma and indoor air quality.
Living in an industrialized world poses a great many health threats to ourselves and our children, from a depleted ozone layer causing increased risk of melanoma to hydrogenated oils in our foods leading to greater instances of heart disease.  At the moment, one of the fastest growing health problems in industrialized countries is asthma.  The increase in asthma diagnoses can be due to a number of different variables, from increased pollution caused by car or power plant exhaust, to smoke in the air brought about by the burning of charcoal or cigarettes.
As of 2007, approximately 34.1 million Americans had been diagnosed with asthma at some point during their lifetime.  The prevalence of asthma increased a full 75% from 1980 to 1994.  As these statistics come in, we are discovering there is an asthma epidemic, and it’s up to all of us to educate ourselves on the dangers of asthma, including any possible causes or triggers for an asthma attack.
Asthma is a chronic disease which affects the respiratory system of those who suffer from it. During an asthmatic attack, the sufferers may experience such symptoms as constricted airways, a tightness in the chest, coughing and wheezing, high heart rate, and difficulty getting oxygen.  Without proper health or medication, such as in the form of a fast-acting inhaler, an asthma attack can sometimes lead to respiratory arrest and even death.
Of the 34.1 million Americans living with asthma, 10.2 million of those are children. Asthma is the number one chronic health problem in children. It is a disease with no known cure. Often, an entire childhood can be spent going through many different forms of asthma treatment, just trying to get the symptoms under control and reduce the frequency of asthma attacks.  Much of the process of getting asthma under control involves determining what environmental triggers can prompt an asthma attack, and actively taking steps to avoid them.
For example, the presence of an allergy and asthma go hand-in-hand.  As allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma, affecting over 50% of asthma sufferers, it’s important for those who struggle with asthma to also control airborne allergens, such as mold.
Mold, like many indoor contaminants, such as dust mites or pet dander; contains allergens, which can of course exacerbate asthma symptoms.   On top of seeing allergy and asthma specialists, or going to an allergy and asthma clinic, if you or your child has been diagnosed with asthma, you may want to consider meeting with a professional environmental company that specializes in testing the Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) of buildings, and which is able to clean up any allergens or pollutants from your home.
Emerging studies are showing more and more examples supporting the theory that mold can be a big factor in negatively affecting those who suffer from asthma.  A recent study conducted by Cardiff University in the UK makes a clear connection between mold and asthma. In the study, a group of houses in South Wales with confirmed mold growth were split in half at random. One half of the houses not only had the mold removed from the homes, but also had ventilation increased in order to prevent future mold growth.  In the other half of the houses, the mold was left for another 12 months. The residents of the houses that were cleared of mold reported a dramatic decrease in the need for inhalers, as well as great improvements in symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, runny noses, and irritated eyes.
Another study conducted by professor Jouni Jaakkola, MD, DSc, PhD, and colleagues of the Institute for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at England’s University of Birmingham, showed that household mold odor increased children’s asthma risk 2.5 times.
If a musty odor is present in a household, it is an indication that the air has already been contaminated with mold spores. And since more than 65 million spores can fit in a space the size of a postage stamp, this can be a serious concern for those who struggle with asthma on a daily basis.  The study concluded that you don’t even have to see mold in your home for it to necessarily be damaging to your health. Airborne mold, whether or not a scent is detected, can cause irritation to the nose, eyes, throat, and lungs.
According to studies, the air inside your home can be 2-5 times more polluted than the air outdoors.  For this reason, it’s crucial that parents of children with asthma have their homes professionally tested by a company specializing in Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) testing

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