When sniffles, sneezes, and wheezes show up, many of us think taking medication is the only solution. But why not start by taking the source of allergy and asthma symptoms out of your home's air?
Asthma and allergies cause chronic health conditions for millions of people. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S. More than 25 million Americans have allergy-induced asthma, a chronic lung condition.
While seasonal allergies are common, more than 50 million Americans experience various allergy symptoms each year. Allergic symptoms can also result from exposure to pollen, dust mites, animal dander, and everyday allergens. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, but the immune processes responsible for these reactions are the same in all cases.
What Causes Respiratory Allergies?
Allergies are caused by heightened sensitivity to relatively harmless substances. A body's immune system is designed to fight off any foreign cell or object identified as harmful to the body. These foreign substances are commonly called antigens in relation to the immune system. Although antigens can be any kind of virus or bacteria, they can also be any number of respiratory allergens, such as pollen, dust, or animal dander. The body usually identifies allergens as harmful as soon as they enter the sinuses. The immune system responds by producing antibodies to fight off the allergens.
With initial exposure, the body’s immune response is mild, but over time with repeated exposure, the body responds by releasing large amounts of what is known as histamine. This causes traditional allergic symptoms such as a runny nose, coughing, itchy eyes, and sneezing. These reactions are designed to expel allergens from the body. To control pollen effects and symptoms, allergy sufferers take antihistamine. Such drugs block the effects of histamines in the body, preventing the symptoms.
Pollen and its Effect on the Body
Part of a plant’s reproductive system, pollen consists of microscopic particles that must be transferred to various areas of a plant’s reproductive parts to produce viable seeds. Bees and other insects cross-pollinate plants, as well as wind. Pollen counts are based on how much pollen is in a cubic meter of air measured over 24 hours.
What does pollen do to your body? Pollen is responsible for many seasonal allergy symptoms, as well as asthma. Common sources of pollen-producing asthma come from plants such as ragweed, lamb's quarters, Russian thistle, Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda grass, Johnson and Timothy grasses, and various wind-pollinated trees like ash, elm, oak, hickory, box elder, pecan, and mountain cedar.
What is Pollen Allergy?
Approximately 23% to 30% of the US population is genetically predisposed to pollen allergies. This means that their bodies automatically generate allergic responses to pollen, resulting in allergic symptoms. Pollen allergy symptoms include sneezing, coughing, runny nose and itchy, watery eyes.
Those predisposed to pollen allergies usually begin noticing symptoms in childhood. When parents have allergies, children have a greater chance of becoming symptomatic during their lifetimes. In fact, if one parent had allergies, the child has a 25% chance of inheriting those allergies. If both parents are symptomatic, the child has an estimated 75%-80% chance of becoming allergic.
Asthma Caused by Allergies
An estimated 25 million Americans have asthma, a chronic illness of the respiratory system that involves inflammation and constriction of airways, as well as increased mucus production. Asthma is usually the result of hypersensitivity to certain triggers such as allergens, air temperature fluctuations, exercise, or stress.
Individuals suffering from asthma usually experience breathlessness, tightness in the chest, and wheezing during symptomatic episodes. Coughing may occur at night or in the early morning. All these symptoms are the result of constricted airflow and respiratory inflammation and can be treated. Allergens like pollen can cause the body to release large amounts of histamine, exacerbating asthma by increasing mucus production in the lungs and creating inflammatory responses in the lung tissue
Histamines can also cause muscle contractions in the small branches of the lungs, resulting in wheezing and tightness in the chest.
Solutions for Asthma and Pollen Allergies
While asthma and allergy medications can control allergy symptoms once they start, it helps to avoid exposure to allergens in the first place. Staying away from allergy-producing plants isn’t enough. Pollen can travel hundreds of miles on wind currents. Some plants, like ragweed, can produce a million grains of pollen in one day. It only takes 20 ragweed pollen grains in a cubic meter of air to trigger an allergic reaction. That means the pollen count in the air doesn’t have to be that high to cause allergy symptoms.
Individuals suffering from pollen allergies should use personal room filtration systems that can effectively remove pollen from the air. Pollen measures about 10 to 60 microns in diameter. Most indoor air purifiers can filter out air particles as small as 3 microns.
Air filtration is especially important if you think your baby or child has asthma, as their smaller airways mean regular symptoms could be life-threatening. Your child's pediatrician is the best person to go to, but to help determine if your baby has asthma, take a look at our overview of six symptoms to watch for.
If you or your child does have asthma, consider an air purifier designed to help remove airborne particles that can make breathing difficult for asthma sufferers.
What Kind of Air Purifier is Best for Pollen Allergies?
Ideal air purifiers for allergies feature the powerful air-cleaning ability of HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter technology. Alen only recommends using HEPA air filters, as years of testing and customer experience shows that HEPA filters are the most effective at removing allergens and pollutants that cause allergies. Customers report allergy relief within 48 hours of air purifier use. Alen air purifiers capture 99.99% of airborne particles down to 0.1 microns, use of ‘medical-grade filtration,’ and use of ‘H13’ True HEPA.
To reduce the presence of asthma and allergy triggers in the air that circulates through your home, consider using an air purifier such as one of the following models from our Asthma collection.
Interested in learning more about Alen Air Purifiers and allergy relief?
Call an Alen Clean Air Expert at 800-630-2396 or contact us here to learn more about which air purifier may provide you the greatest allergy relief.