Rabbit Air recently sat down with June Zhang, MD of South Bay Allergy and Asthma Group, a board-certified allergist and immunologist with more than 10 years of experience, to talk about allergens. Zhang has been recognized as the one of the Bay Area’s Top Allergists by Castle Connolly Top Doctors Guide published in the San Francisco Magazine 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 and is certified by both the American Board of Pediatrics and the American Board of Allergy & Immunology.
Dr. Zhang, thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about allergens. Can you tell us what are some of the household pollutants found in a common household and how do they affect us?
Dr. Zhang: Dust mites, pet dander, pollen, fumes from cooking/scents, to name a few, can be triggers for allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, itchy watery eyes, nasal congestion/drainage, sinus pressure/pain. These pollutants can also trigger asthma symptoms, such as cough, wheeze, shortness of breath and chest tightness.
None of those sound very pleasant. Can this have long term effects on health, and how?
Dr. Zhang: Not well controlled allergies and asthma can lead to poor sleep, fatigue, decreased concentration for school and work, and overall lower quality of life. For asthma patients who are not well controlled this can lead to long term lung damage that can be irreversible.
This last year many of us spent more time in our homes thanks to quarantines, work at home and inclement weather. What are some of the effects on our health?
Dr. Zhang: It is important to keep the air clean now that we are spending more time at home. Allergists are seeing a dramatic increase in patients with dust mite and pet allergies due to sheltering in place. Patients are also adopting more pets as well during quarantine.
Yes, it’s been good to find homes for all those pets. Is there a way to have an animal and still maintain a healthy home? What can we do to improve indoor air quality? Do plants, humidifiers and air purifiers make a difference?
Dr. Zhang: Air purifier is the best option. Humidifiers are not good for patients with dust mite allergies as dust mites love humidity. Plants are good but need to make sure to check for mold.
This is good information to know. How can we take the principles that we use at home for healthier air quality into public places we spend a lot of time in, like schools, hospitals and homes for the elderly?
Dr. Zhang: The same principles apply to any setting. Decreased exposure to allergens can decrease symptoms, decrease need for medications and improve quality of life. All of our offices (at South Bay Allergy and Asthma Group) have air filters. Hospitals generally have high grade filtration already, but often schools and nursing homes, due to budgets, are not as optimized.
Thank you so much for taking time to discuss this with us. Definitely some good information.