(BPT) - Allergies and asthma are serious public health concerns. In the U.S., approximately 25 million people live with asthma, and more than 50 million people experience various types of allergies each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). While many people have asthma and allergies, these conditions are still often misunderstood, leading to many misconceptions on symptom management, especially when it comes to environmental factors.
The reality is that you can't cure allergies and asthma, and you should follow the advice of your medical provider. It is also important to look at your indoor environment and how you can reduce asthma and allergy triggers. Below are five myths about allergies and asthma and how you can improve your indoor home environment.
1. Myth: Allergies are only caused by pollen and outdoor allergens
While pollen allergies are common, it's not the only thing that can cause an allergic reaction. Allergens are any foreign substances that cause your immune system to react, such as common airborne allergens like pet dander, dust mites, cockroaches and mold — all of which can be found inside your home. Not only can allergens trigger an allergic reaction, but according to the Mayo Clinic, they can also cause allergy-induced asthma, also called allergic asthma.
One way to mitigate airborne allergen triggers indoors is to improve indoor air quality. People on average spend 90% of their day indoors, so reducing indoor allergy triggers in your living space is an important way to manage allergy and asthma symptoms. Check your HVAC system and replace your air filters regularly (at least once every three months) to maintain efficiency and good airflow. If you need help with your air quality and home comfort needs, you can contact a local Trane Residential Comfort Specialist.
You can find many more ways to improve indoor air quality and reduce allergy and asthma triggers at: aafa.org/healthyhome.
2. Myth: All hypoallergenic products are created equal
Many products on the market claim to be "hypoallergenic," but there are no regulations as to what this means. Often, products are labeled hypoallergenic, but this is a marketing label that requires no testing or validation. People with asthma and allergies need products and services backed by science.
Luckily, AAFA and Allergy Standards Limited (ASL) have collaborated on the asthma & allergy friendly® Certification Program to help consumers identify quality products that work to provide a healthier home environment. Products that have earned the certified asthma & allergy friendly® mark have been tested against strict scientific standards to ensure they help with indoor air quality.
If you're looking for a home air cleaner to help manage home allergens, you should consider Trane's CleanEffects Whole Home Air Cleaner, which has been certified asthma & allergy friendly® by ASL and AAFA. The air cleaner was placed in an environmentally controlled chamber and tested with dust containing dust mite allergen, cat dander, and pollen to make sure that it can reduce allergens in the indoor environment.
3. Myth: Humidity doesn't affect allergies and asthma
Humidity is the amount of water vapor in the air. Too much or too little humidity can worsen allergy or asthma symptoms. Maintaining your home's humidity level between 30-50% can contribute to better indoor air quality and health. Mold and dust mites thrive in high humidity (above 50%) and can trigger allergies and asthma. Low humidity can cause your skin, eyes, nose and lips to dry out, can result in a dry, sore throat and can worsen asthma.
The best way to control humidity in the home is by monitoring humidity levels through a reliable HVAC thermostat or a device called a hygrometer. If your home's humidity level is too high, you can lower it by running the air conditioning or using a dehumidifier.
4. Myth: Allergies go away in winter
Since you typically spend more time indoors during the colder months, you might be even more prone to indoor allergies during the winter. The top indoor allergy triggers are dust mites, pet dander and mold, which can also trigger your asthma. Also, according to the AAFA, cold, dry air can narrow your airway and induce an asthma attack.
Keep your home at a comfortable, warm temperature during winter and consider adding a more effective filter to your central furnace. If needed, use a humidifier to add moisture to your indoor air, keeping in mind that the ideal level is between 30% and 50%. Lower indoor humidity can reduce dust mites and mold.
5. Myth: Moving to a different climate can cure your allergies
While it's fun to dream about living in a more temperate climate, moving isn't likely to cure your allergies. Airborne allergens are everywhere and can travel great distances. Also, if you relocate, you may expose yourself to new allergy triggers in addition to your existing ones.
Every state in the U.S. has pollen that can cause allergy symptoms. For example, ragweed pollen — one of the most common causes of fall pollen allergies — can be found in 49 states. AAFA's yearly Allergy CapitalsTM report explores how challenging it is to live with spring or fall allergies in the top 100 U.S. cities.
If you do move, think about your new indoor living space too. One task that should definitely be on your list to help manage your allergy and asthma triggers is to inspect your new living environment and make the appropriate changes to reduce allergens.
Remember these five myths and accompanying tips the next time your asthma or allergy symptoms flare up so you can take control of your environment, improve indoor air quality, and reduce allergy and asthma triggers.