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The Elephant Sitting On Your Chest: Asthma & Allergens

Posted by on March 29th, 2017 Posted in: Consumer Health, Data, Public Health


“Untitled” by Darren Coleshill is licensed under CC0/span>.

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From winter into spring, the transition is beautiful. Trees are full of leaves and flowers are in full bloom. In Texas, the bluebonnets grace our highways. The sun is out, shining brightly. Suddenly, some of us start wheezing, coughing, and sneezing.

According to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), allergens in the environment can trigger seasonal allergies and asthma. Asthma is an inflammatory disease of the lung and is now the most common chronic disorder in childhood. The prevalence has increased over the years. According to CDC Vital Signs 1 in 12 people have asthma in the United States. Oxygen absorption in the lungs is a crucial function of the body. With asthma, the airway becomes inflamed, swollen, and narrow. Less air is able to get to the lung tissue. Some describe feeling as if an elephant is sitting on their chest.

The US Department of Housing and Urban Development conducted an extensive survey, known as the National Survey of Lead Hazards and Allergens in Housing. The results were published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. It found that 46% of homes had dust mite allergens high enough to produce allergic reactions and one quarter of the homes had allergen levels high enough to trigger asthma symptoms in susceptible individuals. Nearly two-thirds of American homes have cockroach allergens.

What can we do? See the NIEHS Fact Sheet for some simple steps for decreasing indoor allergens. See the NIEHS and the NHLBI for more information.

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