Asthma rates higher than ever
Asthma rates in the United States are increasing and are at record levels, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) announced this week. In fact, 13.6 percent of children and 12.7 percent of adults in the United States have been diagnosed with asthma, according to the report. Meanwhile, more than half of all children with the disease (and more than two-thirds of all adults) do not have an individualized action plan, a major concern for the CDC. An asthma action plan (also known as an asthma management plan) is a written plan that an asthma patient develops with his or her doctor to help control asthma symptoms. The plan also typically includes long-term asthma control strategies.
“A key component for adults and children is to create and follow an asthma action plan,” said Christopher J. Portier, Ph.D., a CDC spokesman for “CDC encourages those with asthma to work with their doctors to take control of this disease.” Many government agencies and health organizations recommend the use of an air purifier as an asthma-control step in addition to seeing a doctor regularly and taking medications as prescribed.
The American Lung Association offers the following asthma- and allergy-control guidance:
1. Reduce or remove as many asthma allergy triggers from your home as possible.
2. Use high-efficiency air purifiers and air conditioners and keep them in good repair.
3. Control dust mites, especially in the bedroom.
4. Contact the American Lung Association for more information.
The CDC announcement in May was timed to coincide with National Asthma Awareness Month. “The information in this release is a stark reminder that asthma continues to be a major public health concern with a large financial impact on families, the nation, and our health care system,” Portier said.
Some additional highlights from the CDC announcement.
• In 2010, an estimated 10.1 million (13.6 percent) children had been diagnosed with asthma in their lifetimes, and 7.0 million (9.4 percent) still had asthma.
• During 2001–2010, the proportion of persons with asthma in the United States increased by 14.8 percent.
• In 2008, children aged 5–17 years who had one or more asthma attacks in the previous 12 months missed 10.5 million days of school. Adults who were currently employed and had one or more asthma attacks during the previous 12 months missed 14.2 million days of work due to asthma.
• In 2009, asthma accounted for 3,388 deaths, 479,300 hospitalizations, 1.9 million emergency department (ED) visits, and 8.9 million physician office visits.
• The estimated total cost of asthma to society, including medical expenses ($50.1 billion per year), loss of productivity resulting from missed school or work days ($3.8 billion per year), and premature death ($2.1 billion per year), was $56 billion (2009 dollars) in 2007.
Dust mites are tiny bugs that are in almost every home. If you have asthma, dust mites can trigger an asthma attack. To prevent attacks, use mattress covers and pillowcase covers to make a barrier between dust mites and yourself. Don’t use down-filled pillows, quilts, or comforters. Remove stuffed animals and clutter from your bedroom. Wash your bedding on the hottest water setting.
In autumn, dust mites are a major IAQ problem Air Quality News from IQAir, the world leader in air purifiers. Dust mites are close relatives of ticks and spiders.
They thrive in and on mattresses, bedding, upholstered furniture, carpets, drapes and curtains.
They eat flakes of your dead skin, as well as the dead skin of your pets.
And in the autumn, dust mites and their droppings are a major allergen affecting allergy and asthma sufferers. Dust mites are microscopic, about 250 microns in diameter. But their droppings are as small as 10 microns in diameter, and the droppings break down into particles much smaller. In a home, the droppings and carcasses of dead dust mites add up over time. A study by the London (U.K.) NHS Trust found that up to a third of a pillow’s weight after two years of use is composed of living and dead dust mites, dust mite feces, dead skin and bacteria. A bed mattress can nearly double in weight over 10 years as a result of accumulating dust-mite particles.
The problem: Dead mites and their droppings To be precise, the dust mites aren’t the problem; it’s their droppings and decomposing bodies that cause a variety of health problems when inhaled. Research has shown that dust mite droppings smaller than 10 microns can be inhaled and deposited directly in the alveoli. For as much as 15% of the population, the result of breathing dust mite particles is a runny nose and other respiratory symptoms. Inhalation of dust mite particles can also cause asthma and trigger an asthma attack, according to the American Lung Association.
Late autumn is dust mite season Dust mites prefer living in temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. They also prefer a humid environment. But as they begin dying off each fall, the effect they have on air quality increases. Dust mite droppings and particles from their carcasses continue to become airborne through December. That’s largely the result of homeowners cranking up their forced-air heating systems, according to the American College of Allergy,
Cockroaches and their droppings can trigger an asthma attack. Get rid of cockroaches in your home by removing as many water and food sources as you can. Cockroaches are often found where food is eaten and crumbs are left behind. At least every 2 to 3 days, vacuum or sweep areas that might attract cockroaches. Use roach traps or gels to cut down on the number of cockroaches in your home.
What Causes a Pet Allergy?
The job of immune system cells is to find foreign substances such as viruses and bacteria and get rid of them. Normally, this response protects us from dangerous diseases. People with pet allergies have supersensitive immune systems that react to harmless proteins in the pet's dander (dead skin that is shed), saliva or urine. These proteins are called allergens.
Dogs and cats secrete fluids and shed dander that contain the allergens. They collect on fur and other surfaces. The allergens will not lose their strength for a long time, sometimes for several months. They appear to be sticky and adhere to walls, clothing and other surfaces.
Pet hair is not an allergen. It can collect dander, though. It also harbors other allergens like dust and pollen.