May is recognized as Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, a time when people all around the world come together to raise awareness about the impact of asthma and allergies on individuals and communities. This annual event serves as an important reminder of the challenges faced by millions of people around the world who live with these conditions and the importance of early diagnosis, treatment, and prevention.
Asthma is a chronic respiratory condition that affects the airways of the lungs, causing them to narrow, which restricts airflow. This can lead to symptoms such as wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and chest tightness. Asthma can be triggered by a variety of factors, including allergens, exercise, stress, and pollution, and it can be particularly severe for individuals with other underlying health conditions.
Allergies, on the other hand, are a hypersensitive reaction of the immune system to an external substance that is usually harmless to others. Allergens like pollen, dust, pet dander, and certain foods can cause an allergic reaction. Common symptoms of allergies include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, and skin rashes.
Asthma and allergies often occur together, with allergies being a common trigger for asthma symptoms. In fact, up to 80% of people with asthma also have allergies. This is known as allergic asthma, which is a type of asthma triggered by allergens.
Unfortunately, asthma and allergies are prevalent worldwide, affecting people of all ages, races, and ethnicities. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), around 235 million people suffer from asthma globally, and this number is projected to increase in the coming years. Similarly, allergies are one of the most common chronic diseases worldwide, affecting an estimated 10-30% of the global population.
During Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, the aim is to increase understanding and awareness of these conditions, their causes, symptoms, and the impact they can have on individuals, families, and communities. This includes educating people about the importance of early diagnosis and treatment, as well as providing information about how to manage symptoms and prevent exacerbations. Preventative measures such as avoiding allergens, maintaining good indoor air quality, and having an action plan for asthma management can help individuals living with these conditions to lead a healthy and fulfilling life.
One way to create a healthier environment in your home is to look for products that won’t contribute to poor air quality. The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, in partnership with Allergy Standards Limited, created the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program to help consumers choose products that have been tested to improve the air quality and health of homes. This program helps people make informed purchases for a healthier home by testing household products against strict standards. If products pass their tests, they earn the CERTIFIED asthma & allergy friendly® mark.
The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America has created a page listing all the CERTIFIED products to choose from, ranging from air purifiers, bedding and even laundry detergents. These products and the following steps are several ways that we can improve air quality and reduce allergens.
Use air purifiers: Air purifiers are a great way to improve air quality by removing airborne allergens from the air. They work by using filters to trap allergens and pollutants, such as pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, which can be harmful to people with allergies or respiratory problems. When choosing an air purifier, it's important to look for one that is HEPA-certified, such as the Rabbit Air A3, which means that it can remove at least 99.97% of particles as small as 0.3 microns.
Keep windows closed: While it's tempting to open windows to let in fresh air, this can also allow allergens to enter your home. Instead, keep windows closed and use air conditioning to cool your home. This will help to filter out allergens and pollutants while also keeping your home cool and comfortable.
Vacuum regularly: Vacuuming your home regularly is another effective way to reduce allergens in the air and bedding. Be sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, which will trap allergens and prevent them from being released back into the air. Additionally, consider vacuuming bedding, upholstery, and curtains, which can also harbor allergens.
Wash bedding frequently: Allergens can build up in bedding over time, so it's important to wash bedding frequently to remove them. Use hot water and a detergent that is specifically designed for allergy sufferers. Additionally, consider using allergen-proof covers for pillows and mattresses to prevent allergens from getting into them, such as SmartSilk™, which uses silk-filled and silk-lined core collection that are proven highly effective in combating common household allergens and improving indoor air quality.¹
Keep pets out of bedrooms: Pets can be a major source of allergens, so it's best to keep them out of bedrooms if possible. Additionally, be sure to groom your pets regularly and vacuum carpets and upholstery to remove pet hair and dander.
Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month serves as a reminder of the challenges faced by people living with asthma and allergies and the importance of raising awareness about these conditions. By working together, we can help to reduce the impact of asthma and allergies on individuals and communities worldwide and by following these tips, you can create a healthier and more comfortable living environment for yourself and your family.
- Airmid Health Group. Asthma & allergy friendly™ Certification (2018)