Natural Options For Managing Asthma

 Natural Options For Managing Asthma

 

 

 

Natural Remedies and Complimentary Treatments for Asthma Management

 

 

If you have asthma or care for someone who does, you probably already know that prescription drugs are the largest medical expense related to asthma. According to the American Lung Association, asthma medications cost $6 billion a year in the United States.

In addition to the expense of asthma prescriptions, keeping track of different inhalers and medications can also be a pain. If you’re seeking more natural methods of asthma treatment or are looking for ways to improve control of your asthma symptoms, you may be thinking about using a natural remedy or alternative treatment for your asthma.

The natural treatment of asthma focuses on several key principles: reducing allergic exposure, reducing the sensitivity and spasticity of the airways of the lungs, balancing the allergic/inflammatory pathways in the body, and correcting nutrient imbalances.

 

 

Steam Baths as Asthma Treatment

 

While warm steam baths have often been used to help alleviate nasal congestion and airway irritation associated with asthma, there’s never been a study that proves that steam treatments help improve asthma symptoms. It’s important to understand that it’s not a cure for asthma.

Even so, just because the studies haven’t established a definite benefit doesn’t mean that steam baths won’t be of benefit to some people.

Steam baths may relieve some of the symptoms because it may provide moisture to the airways.  One caution, though, is that steam can be dangerously hot, so in some asthmatics, it could exacerbate symptoms. So, always use a gentle steam and monitor how you react.

Steam baths may help offset some symptoms, particularly nasal stuffiness,  it has to be stressed that steam baths are not a substitute for asthma medications. 

If a steam bath isn’t convenient, try a personal steam inhaler to efficiently get the soothing steam into your nose and throat.

Example: This Vicks Personal Steam Inhaler provides gentle, germ-free steam.

 

 

Herbs and Other Alternative Asthma Treatment Options

 

A number of herbs have been touted as natural remedies for asthma.  While there are no definitive studies proving the efficacy of these options for asthma, it’s important to note that there is no financial incentive for large pharma companies to invest millions studying natural products which cannot be patented and profited from. So, just because a remedy hasn’t been scientifically proven, does not mean if doesn’t work for some people, or that it won’t work for you.  I do suggest, though, that you check with your doctor before adding any of these supplements to your routine.

 

Some alternative treatment options and their associated risks and benefits include:

 

Garlic

Garlic has been used as a natural remedy to manage many diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease, because of its anti-inflammatory properties. Since asthma is an inflammatory disease, it would make sense that garlic may also help relieve asthma symptoms.

There have never been any controlled studies investigating the effect of garlic on asthma symptoms, so its role in asthma treatment is unknown. The use of garlic as an alternative treatment for asthma is, however, currently being studied.

 

Example: BRI Nutrition Extra Strength Odorless Garlic

 

 

Ginger

Ginger is also thought to decrease inflammation, and a recent study did show that oral ginger supplements were linked to improvement in asthma symptoms. The study didn’t show, however, that ginger use led to any improvement in actual lung function. As a result, we can’t really use this study to draw any conclusions about the use of ginger as an alternative treatment for asthma. Additional studies are now being conducted to evaluate more fully whether or not ginger may help manage asthma symptoms.

 

Example: Nature’s Way Premium Herbal Ginger Root

 

 

 

Turmeric

Turmeric has been the subject of a number of studies, and it has been found to have some anti-allergy properties. It’s thought that turmeric has an effect on histamines, which can cause inflammation. Nevertheless, much more research needs to be done before turmeric can be established as a safe and effective natural remedy for asthma. 

I have written extensively on turmeric (it’s a true adaptogenic herb that is beneficial in so many ways!).

 

Example: NaturMyst Natural and Pure Turmeric Curcumin with Bioperine

 

 

Example: This Vimerson Health Turmeric and Ginger With Bioperine combines 2 helpful herbs plus bioperine, which enhances turmeric absorption.

 

 

Honey

Honey is an ingredient in many cough and cold remedies, used to help sooth an irritated throat and calm a cough. Many people with asthma may try mixing honey with a hot drink for relief, but again, there are no studies to support the use of honey as an alternative treatment for asthma symptoms.  Choose Manuka honey for its added health benefits.

 

Example: Manuka Doctor 24+ Bio Active Manuka Honey

 

 

Omega-3 Fatty Acids

Omega-3 fatty acids are often used as a natural remedy to help prevent and treat heart disease. Though some research suggests that omega-3s may also help to decrease airway inflammation and boost lung function, there’s still a lot that isn’t known about their role in asthma treatment. There is some literature to say thatfish oil supplements may also be beneficial in people with asthma, but as of right now, more research needs to be done.

Example: Dr. Tobias Triple Strength Omega 3 Fish Oil

 

 

 

 

Avoid Echinacea and Licorice Root 

 

 

One study that examined the use of a number of different herbs to treat asthma found that Echinacea — an herb often used to treat upper respiratory infections — was not only ineffective, but was also associated with a number of side effects.

Worsening asthma symptoms, skin rashes and possible liver damage when taken with other medications are risks linked to Echinacea use. Likewise, licorice root — which has anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties and is sometimes used by people with asthma to soothe their lungs — was found to be ineffective as an alternative treatment for asthma and was also associated with side effects such as high blood pressure.

There have not been any clinical trials that have shown either Echinacea or licorice root to be an effective asthma treatment and she notes that there have been some reports that Echinacea may worsen asthma symptoms in some people.  So, just stay away from both.

 

 

 

Check Your Indoor Air Quality

 

There might not be much you can do about pollution outdoors, but minimizing pollutants in your home can greatly lessen susceptibility to outdoor asthma attacks.

Believe it or not, the Environmental Protection Agency tells us our indoor environments are two to five times more toxic than our outdoor environments!

Here are tips to help you remove many sources of irritants that are likely found in your home:

 

  • Try to keep a window open even during the winter to bring fresh air in. If you can afford it, use a heat recovery ventilator (air-to-air heat exchanger) to bring outside air in.

 

  • Avoid secondhand smoke from wood-burning stoves and cigarettes.

 

  • Switch to natural cleaning products or use baking soda, lavender oil and vinegar to make your own. There are many simple recipes available online that can keep added chemicals out of your home and save you a bundle of money.  I like Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products.  They’re made with essential oils and plant-derived ingredients, they smell wonderful, and yes – they are very effective.

 

  • Avoid antibacterial soaps and disinfectants.

 

 

  • Use a dehumidifier in damp areas, and fix water leaks to reduce mold.  If you have (or suspect) a mold problem, read this article.

 

  • Buy a water filter to remove chlorine from your tap water.

 

  • Install flooring or carpets that you can vacuum beneath to reduce dust mites.  Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner.

 

  • Wash bedding weekly, and keep upholstery and carpets regularly vacuumed.
I use Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Laundry Detergent. It’s a natural, HE compatible product that does a great job on dirty laundry. It’s free of phthalates, chlorine, formaldehyde, artificial colors, parabens, animal derived ingredients, MEA, DEA, optical brighteners.

 

  • Use sheets and pillow cases that are non-allergenic and don’t contain down or feathers.

 

  • Keep furry friends out of the bedroom to limit the amount of pet hair you’re exposed to. Clean and brush pets regularly to remove some of their fur that can wind up around your home.

 

  • Cockroaches are another asthma trigger, so speak with a professional exterminator if you suspect you might have some in your home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Manage Your Stress

 

The Western lifestyle includes high degrees of emotional stress, and studies show that stress management techniques help reduce asthma severity. It’s well-known that stress increases the severity and frequency of asthmatic attacks because it hinders immune function and raises inflammation.

In fact, studies show that roughly 67 percent or more of asthmatics have diminished adrenal capacity, increased anxiety and other mood disorders related to stress. Mood disorders are considered “adaptive diseases” — that is, they result from a person’s inability to deal with stress.

Try natural stress relievers, including massage, deep abdominal breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, guided imagery and art therapies. These can all help reduce stress and give asthmatics the tools to modulate their stress responses. This lowers susceptibility to future attacks and lessens reliance on asthma drugs.

On a personal note, we have a massage chair at our house, and it is a huge stress reducer (plus, it helped my husband heal from debilitating sciatica pain).  I wrote about that and reviewed the best massage chairs here.

 

 

Stay Active

 

A growing body of literature indicates that lifestyle changes in recent decades, specifically decreased physical activity and dietary changes, are key contributing factors causing an increase in asthma prevalence and severity. Obesity is linked to higher risk for asthma and other breathing problems, including sleep apnea.

Although vigorous exercise can sometimes cause symptoms in people who already have asthma, staying active is generally very beneficial for improving immune function, preventing obesity, dealing with stress and lowering inflammation.

 

 

Asthma Attacks May be Unavoidable – Always Wear a Medical ID for Asthma

 

Over time, people with asthma may learn what triggers their asthma attacks and are thus better able to avoid having serious episodes. However, not all allergens are avoidable, and not all asthma attacks are caused by allergies. In fact, as we discussed, many asthma attacks are unavoidable because they are caused by chemicals, exercise, smoke exposure, and stress.

While most asthma attacks are treatable with rescue drugs such as inhalers, sometimes an inhaler is too far away to be reached. Other times, the attack may be extreme. In both instances, those surrounding the person suffering an asthma attack need to know what to do and how to help.

By wearing medical ID jewelry, those with asthma can have their diagnosis and treatment protocol on hand in the event they are unable to speak. Additionally, if EMTs do need to respond, knowing the cause of someone’s inability to breathe can contribute toward faster, more effective treatment.

If you have asthma, wearing medical ID jewelry is imperative. I recommend listing your name, diagnosis(es), any medications, all allergies, and emergency contact numbers.

Here are some examples of what to engrave on your asthma medical alert jewelry (ICE = In Case of Emergency):

 

Medical ID BraceletBELLA FRANKLIN
ASTHMA
GIVE INHALER
CALL 911
ICE 555-746-4097

 

ANGELA CURTIS
ASTHMA
INHALER IN PURSE
ICE 555-746-4097
ICE 555-746-0014

 

JESSE ABRAMS
ALGYS: BEES, LATEX
SEVERE ASTHMA
EPI & INHALER IN BAG
ICE 555-746-0014

 

 

Final Thoughts

 

Risk factors and underlying contributors of asthma include an inflammatory/poor diet, low immune function, food or seasonal allergies, and exposure to household or environmental irritants.  Anything you can do to mitigate those factors will help with asthma management.

Look into supplements which reduce inflammation and enhance your body’s immunity, try to cut down on stress, and avoid chemicals and pollutants wherever possible.

 

Recommended Reading:

 

Breathe To Heal – Break Free From Asthma
 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some practical information on natural options for managing asthma.

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

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Prepare Your Home and HVAC System For Warmer Days

Prepare Your Home and HVAC System For Warmer Days

 

 

Correcting any issues in the HVAC system well in advance of the arrival of warm weather can help ensure comfort when air conditioning is needed. 

 

The arrival of a new season can be an exciting time.  Homeowners may have renewed vigor to start home renovations projects, or even tackle some cleaning and organization tasks.

It won’t be long now. The cold winter winds will give way to warm spring breezes,  you’ll need to switch your HVAC system to cooling mode.

 

For the best indoor air quality this summer, give your home through a good spring cleaning before you switch your HVAC to cooling mode by following this brief guide:

 

Wipe Walls and Ceilings: Use a vacuum with HEPA filter to remove dust. Tackle stubborn surface grime, especially prevalent in kitchens, with a solvent-free degreaser (test it first in an inconspicuous area to ensure it won’t mar the surface).

 

Reseal Grout Lines: The cement-based material between wall, floor, and countertop tiles is extremely porous and stains easily. Protect it with a penetrating grout sealer; it’s best to apply it with a small foam brush.

 

Vacuum and Shampoo Rugs: Synthetic carpets and rugs with waterproof backings can be deep-cleaned with a rotary shampoo machine and a hot-water extraction machine. Rugs without backings, including Orientals, require professional cleaning.

 

Dust Books and Shelves: Take everything off the Shelves, and brush shelves and books with a feather duster. Use the dust-brush or crevice tool on a vacuum to reach into tight spots. Wipe the spines of leather-bound books with a clean, soft cloth.

 

Clean Upholstered Furnishings: Take cushions outside and gently beat them by hand to remove dust. If there are stains, check the pieces for care labels. Use a vacuum’s upholstery and crevice tools to clean under seat cushions.

 

 

Polish Metal Door and Window Hardware: Liquid polishes and polish-impregnated cloths work well for medium-tarnished surfaces; pastes and creams are for heavier work. If tarnish doesn’t come off, try a stronger product.

 

Dust Your Home Thoroughly: This includes hard-to-reach places, such as the tops of ceiling fans and window casings. Always work from the top of a room down, vacuuming the dust that settles on the floor. Avoid using dusting sprays.

 

Wax Wooden Furniture: Wipe surfaces with a soft cloth dampened with water and mild dishwashing liquid. Apply paste wax, such as Butcher’s wax, a few feet at a time with a cotton rag folded into a square pad. Let wax dry; buff with a clean cloth.

 

Ensure Fire Safety: Change batteries in smoke detectors (this should be done twice a year), and make sure units are free of dust. Teach everyone in your household how to use a fire extinguisher, and review escape plans.

 

Wash Window Screens: Using warm water and a mild dishwashing liquid, scrub each screen with a brush; rinse thoroughly.

 

Clean Window Treatments: Many draperies and curtains are machine washable; check labels. Dry-clean fabric shades. Wipe wooden blinds with a damp cloth; warm water mixed with a mild dishwashing liquid is safe for metal and vinyl blinds.

 

Wax Non-Wood Floors: Vinyl and linoleum floors that have lost their shine should be waxed with a polish designed for these surfaces. Most stone and tile floors can be treated with either a paste or a liquid wax designed for the material.

 

 

Preparing Your HVAC System to Keep You Cool This Summer

 

Your HVAC system has worked hard all winter, keeping you and your home warm. And after several months of non-stop running, it’s probably developed a little dust and debris of its own. This is exactly why you should take a little time to make sure it’s ready to run at maximum performance once the hot, humid days of summer roll in.

Before the weather starts to warm up too much, you may want to evaluate your home cooling needs and ensure that all equipment is in good working order.

Spring air conditioning inspections and tuneups are essential steps in system performance.  Don’t take for granted that a system that performed optimally last year will do so this year when temperatures climb. 

Various factors, including weather damage, dust and grime, mechanical wear and tear, and even rodent or insect infestations, can compromise HVAC systems.

Since HVAC systems have so many moving parts, a thorough inspections of such systems can save you headaches and money down the road.

Extreme weather conditions that come along with fall and winter can be especially taxing on homes and the systems that keep them comfortable.  During a spring visit, an HVAC technician will perform maintenance on the air conditioner and make sure it is ready for the heat of summertime.  This maintenance may include cleaning the unit, checking controls, calibrating the thermostat, lubricating moving parts, checking refrigerant levels, tightening electrical connections, and clearing any clogs. 

You should also change the filter at the start of the cooling season.  Chances are, you don’t swap filters each month (even though that’s recommended). But changing filters is one of the easiest ways to prevent damaged equipment. Make a note to inspect, clean, and replace air filters (if necessary) at the start of each season. 

After all, your furnace has been running all winter and its filter has been trapping harmful pollutants like:

  • Dust
  • Pet dander
  • Dirt
  • Hair

 

 

HVAC Spring Maintenance Checklist

 

Keep your cool with simple A/C maintenance

 

  • Clear leaves, brush and dirt from inside your air conditioner’s top grille.
  • Trim nearby shrubs and bushes to allow at least two feet of clearance around the unit.
  • Set the thermostat to cooling mode and run your air conditioner a few minutes to make sure it’s working.
  • Schedule an annual checkup of your air conditioning system.
  • Replace your air conditioner filter once a month. Dirty filters restrict air flow and can waste energy.
  • If you use a room air conditioner, install it on a north-facing wall to keep it out of the sun.
  • If it’s time to replace your air conditioner, now is the time!

 

 

Don’t let April showers bring May mildew

 

  • Clear leaves, pine needles and other debris from gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage. Check that they’re stable to   avoid flying debris during storms.
  • Be sure downspouts slope away from your house. They should carry water at least 5′ from foundation walls.
  • Position lawn sprinklers so they don’t spray your home’s walls.
  • Examine window and door seals and weather-stripping. Reseal if needed.
  • Move furniture a few inches away from the inside of exterior walls to increase air circulation.
  • Check windows for condensation and walls for water stains, which are signs of too much humidity.
  • Keep your home’s relative humidity between 30 – 50%.

 

 

Take control of home energy costs

  • Reduce air leaks in your home by caulking, sealing and weather-stripping around doors and windows.
  • Use exhaust fans to reduce moisture in the kitchen or bath, but turn them off when they’re no longer needed.
  • Make sure your refrigerator’s seals are airtight. Test by closing the door over a dollar bill. If you can pull the dollar out easily, the seal may need to be adjusted.
  • Wash only full loads in your dishwasher and clothes washer.
  • Turn off lights you don’t need to save energy and reduce extra heat in your home.
  • If it’s time to replace your air conditioner, choose an energy-efficient model with two-stage cooling.  Two levels of operation allow you to rely on the low setting most of the time.
  • Prepare dinner on your outdoor grill to help reduce your air conditioner’s load.
  • Check ducts for air leaks, including holes or separated sections.
Bestseller: Nest Learning Thermostat

 

 

Final Thoughts

Correcting any issues in the HVAC system well in advance of the arrival of warm weather can help ensure comfort when air conditioning is needed.  As an added advantage, you could also install programmable thermostats if you don’t already have them, to keep cooling as cost- and energy-efficient as possible.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some practical information on getting your home and HVAC ready summer.

I welcome your comments below.

 

-Laurie

 

 

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Is Your Indoor Air Making Your Allergies Worse?

Is Your Indoor Air Making Your Allergies Worse?

 

 

Your indoor air quality may be having as big of an effect on your runny nose as your outdoor environment.

 

Your indoor air quality is effected by factors both inside and outside of your home or business. Inside your home, indoor air quality culprits, like chemicals, volatile organic compounds, or molds can be fixed or controlled, but outdoor causes of poor indoor air quality – such as allergens – are something we’re often at the mercy of.

As we pass the first day of spring, indoor air quality is not something typically on our minds. The birds are chirping, trees are budding, and flowers are pushing up through the melting snow. It seems simple enough to open a window to freshen your home and improve your indoor air quality, but you might actually be inviting pollen and other allergens in as well.

If you’re one of the millions who suffers from seasonal allergies, your indoor air quality may be having as big of an effect on your runny nose as your outdoor environment. Seasonal allergies are your immune system’s response to an allergen – like a pollen particle drifting through the air – which often manifests as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, or sneezing. If you’re trying to escape the cornucopia of pollen outdoors and find relief this spring, your indoor air quality can have a big effect on these escape plans.

 

Walk-In Lab Allergy Test

 

 

Check Your Air Ducts and Filters

 

To help keep your indoor air quality free of seasonal allergens, the first step is to have your ducts inspected and filters checked and replaced. Your indoor air quality is bound to be poor if this key part of your HVAC system is dirty or in need of repairs.

Allergens like pollen or dust can collect in your ducts or filters. Your system, doing its best to move air around your home, will actually help perpetuate poor indoor air quality by spreading that pollen to all rooms.

Inspecting your air filters, and replacing them if necessary, is also a key part of promoting good indoor air quality. Beyond providing a quick route to better indoor air quality, it also keeps your HVAC system running effectively which can prevent long-term problems from arising.

In regards to the HVAC, the low quality filters are porous and dion’t trap fine particulates of dust mites and pet dander, so using a high quality HVAC filters for allergies should be a priority.

The Micropartical Performance Rating or MPR is a rating scale created by Filtrete under the 3M company and it rates the filter’s ability to capture the smallest of airborne particles from the air (different companies use different scales).  These particles captured are microscopic, ranging in size from .3-1 micron in size.

The rating helps customers properly evaluate the ability of the Filtrete filtration.  The higher the MPR rating, the better the filter is at capturing the smallest particulates. The most common ratings for Filtrete filters are 300-2800 MPR.

The American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) has a slightly different scale for filters called the MERV rating.  This rating goes from 1-16, the higher the rating, the more effective the filter for .3-10 micrometers.

MERV 7 to 13 are almost as effective as true HEPA filters at removing allergens, with much lower associated system and operating costs.  This means that using high quality filters can actually help your HVAC system perform with more efficiency and keep the inside of equipment from accumulating dust.

If you are suffering with allergies, I recommend the Filtrete MPR 2800 Ultrafine Particle Reduction HVAC Filter.  It captures micro-particles  including: PM 2.5 air pollution, exhaust, soot, smoke, cough/sneeze debris, bacteria, viruses, and lint, dust, and pollen, and its electrostatic air filter has a Microparticle Performance Rating of 2800 (7 times better than non-electrostatic pleated filters).  It captures 0.3 to 1.0 micron particles, and will last for up to 3 months.

Filtrete MPR 2800 Ultrafine Particle Reduction HVAC Filter

 

 

Cleaning to Improve Indoor Air Quality

 

Vacuum With a HEPA Filter

Cleaning is an obvious choice for improving your indoor air quality. Vacuuming hard surfaces that pollens may collect on can help reduce the buildup of allergens, and using a vacuum with a High Efficiency Particulate Air (or HEPA) filter can also help improve your indoor air quality.

Consumer Reports recommends the Kenmore Elite Pet Friendly 31150 as the best vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.  Strong airflow for tools and superb pet-hair pickup are top attractions of this Kenmore bagged upright. While you can get a fine performer for less, its price includes helpful features such as a brush on/off switch, which safeguards a bare floor’s finish and prevents scattering of debris; suction control (protects drapes); and manual carpet pile-height adjustment.

 

 

 

 

Use a HEPA Filter Air Purifier

HEPA filter air purifiers, either stand-alone units or professionally installed systems, can have a huge effect on your indoor air quality by offering a high grade of filtration and purification from more than just pollen.

Particle allergens such as mold, dander, and pollen are just a few of the antagonists found in the common household. Some of the best air purifiers will remove virtually all these airborne particles in a few hours or even less, ensuring you breathe pure air. While there may be some health benefits, these machines can be particularly life changing for people who suffer from allergies.

One of the most popular air purifiers currently is GermGuardian’s air cleaning system.  The GermGuardian AC4825 is a 22 inch tall, 3 speed tower with UV-C light and Titanium Dioxide technology. This will purge the air in rooms up to 400 square feet quite efficiently.  Judging by the rave reviews and some old fashioned comparison shopping, this unit is truly a great value.

 

 

It’s quiet, very lightweight and easy to move from room-to-room if you do so choose. The one two combo punch of a charcoal and HEPA filter kicks nasty particles to the curb. The Germguardian AC4825 also has its Energy Start qualification, meaning you are doing right by the environment and not sucking up an excessive amount of electrical energy to power it.

 

 

EnviroKlenz Natural Cleaning Products

 

 

Your Air Conditioner Can Help

Your air conditioner can actually be a key part of keeping pollen out and having good indoor air quality. Pollen is water soluble; since your air conditioner was made to remove water from the air, a well-functioning unit can improve your indoor air quality just by doing what it does best.

While you may not associate snow with mold, your indoor air quality can be affected by molds released from its winter cover as the snow melts. Mold spores are released into the air as rotting leaves and autumn’s debris are uncovered and heated up by warmer temperature. This can have a great effect on your indoor air quality, especially if your air intake is near to the ground or has been covered by organic matter.

 

Consider a portable air conditioner (even if you have central air).   Just because you have central air conditioning doesn’t mean you won’t benefit from a portable air conditioner. One of the leading causes of allergies is dust mites and mold spores. Sometimes central air conditioners can house these on their filters. Filters can be changed, but why not have back up.

Portable air conditioners offer removable and washable filters for easy cleaning. And this filter collects the allergens your central air conditioning unit doesn’t. In some cases – living in an apartment or dorm – you don’t maintenance the air conditioning system. If that’s the case, then having a portable air conditioner as back up is vital.

Portable air conditioners comfortably cool areas of your home that your central system doesn’t reach. Not only that but if you plan on entertaining and you need a little extra cooling, portable air conditioners are great options. They can pick up the slack when your system is not running. Your central air system can use all the help it can get.

A portable air conditioner doesn’t cost a lot to run; it can help cut your energy costs. You can use it to cool exclusive areas without running your central unit.

 

 

This bestselling BLACK+DECKER BPACT08WT Portable Air Conditioner With Remote Control has excellent reviews on Amazon.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Testing Your Indoor Air Quality

 

You can test your home’s indoor air quality quite easily on your own with a testing kit.  If a specific problem is found, you can then assess whether you can handle the issue or need to call the appropriate professional to take care of it.

My husband and I did this testing in our home, and it was a simple process, which saved us from paying a professional for a service call to do the testing for us (using a similar testing device).

There is a good variety of indoor air testing kits available to consumers these days, so there is really no reason to feel you have to call someone if you suspect your home’s air is causing health problems.

We used the Home Air Check, and were very satisfied with it.  Their testing device  provides a comprehensive picture of chemical levels that you are breathing when in the home. It also indicates a level of actively growing mold present in the home. Since these chemicals are tested simultaneously, this sophisticated analysis becomes less expensive than arranging for a professional to come out charge you for their time and several separate tests.

Also, the samples are collected without the use of toxic chemicals, so there are no health risks using Home Air Check. We were happy with the level of completeness, sophistication, prediction, and value of Home Air Check.

The Home Air Check Indoor Air Test measures VOC’s, formaldehyde and mold.

 

 

This is how the testing process works:

You use a small sampling device to collect an air sample in your home. The sampling time takes about 2 hours.  Full instructions are included in the kit (and it is very straightforward).

After the sample is collected,  you return the complete kit to the Home Air Check laboratory, where they analyze the air sample using sophisticated state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation for hundreds of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be found in home air. In addition, they look for 21 specific mold compounds that can be generated when mold is actively growing in a home.

A detailed report is then generated. In this report will be a Total VOC concentration level – a total of all the VOCs found in your home. The US Green Building Council recommends a TVOC level of less than 500 ng/L to be considered a healthy environment. (The median US home is about 1,200 ng/L.) A total concentration of Mold VOCs is also listed. Generally, this number should be less than 8 ng/L or you have active mold growth you need to find.

The report also includes a Contamination Index, which gives you a prediction of which sources or materials in your home may be responsible for these contaminating chemicals, such as gasoline, paint, adhesives, odorants, personal care products, etc. Home Air Check emails you the report within 5 business days of receipt of your air sample. You can then use their phone or chat line support to answer any questions you have and to help you improve your air quality.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some practical information. 

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Relieve Sinus Pain Without a Prescription

Simple Steps to Ease Your Allergies at Home

Prepare Your Home and HVAC System For Warmer Days

Best Air Purifiers for COPD – Full Reviews

Signs That You Need to Test Your Indoor Air Quality

Natural Options For Managing Asthma

Thinking About Switching to Organic Makeup? Read This First …

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Detailed Review of the SoClean CPAP Cleaner

Choosing The Right Allergy Treatment (So Many Options!)

Oxygen Therapy for COPD – Pros and Cons

The Most Effective Stop Smoking Aids Reviewed

Best Treadmills for Seniors Home Fitness

Should You Buy an Electric Bike?

The Best Elliptical Machines Reviewed

Find The Best Bathroom Scale for You

The Fix for Cracked Heels

The Best Foot Bath Massagers – Full Reviews

Top 10 Massage Chairs – Full Reviews’

 

 

Signs You Need to Test Your Indoor Air Quality

Signs That You Need to Test Your Indoor Air Quality

(And How to Do It)

 

 

 

 

Physical symptoms caused by poor indoor air quality could be ambiguous and wide ranging, including everything from allergies, to sinus conditions, to headaches, to respiratory irritation. But when symptoms do persist, checking a home’s air quality and air circulation might have great benefit.

 

The indoor air quality of your home is a key part of you and your family’s overall health, because indoor air quality health effects can be wide ranging and have a long-term cumulative effect.

Indoor air quality isn’t always easy to spot the way that a burst pipe or a broken refrigerator is – unlike those household appliances, there’s no switch you flip only to find out your indoor air quality is broken. In the busyness of modern life, it’s often easier to think that smell is coming from the neighbors or the headaches you experience are from your stressful job. But indoor air quality plays a key role in our long-term health, and as we spend up to 90% of our lives indoors, having good indoor air quality is important.

 

Related image

 

 

Know What Your Indoor Air Quality Is

 

In most homes, both urban and rural, people have become much more environmentally conscious than ever before. And while much is made of the air quality outdoors and around the world, we often overlook the air quality inside our living space. It really shouldn’t be that way, especially since we spend so much of our waking hours indoors. The bigger question is how to ensure that indoor air quality is at an acceptable standard. The best way to start is with an air quality test.

Most every home could use an air quality test, including those that seem to be just fine. The truth is, a homeowner doesn’t have to wait for physical symptoms to arise before exploring the indoor air environment. For that matter, symptoms could be ambiguous and wide ranging, including everything from allergies, to sinus conditions, to headaches, to respiratory irritation. But when symptoms do persist, checking a home’s air quality and air circulation might have great benefit.

In the majority of homes, dust and debris is commonplace. And this could be anything from plain dirt, to plant materials, to skin particles, to home cleaning off-gases. For those with respiratory issues, polluted indoor air may be playing a part, especially when irritation is exacerbated. Even furnace filters have their limits – and poor maintenance can easily contribute to poor air quality. In cases where furnace filters clog up quite quickly, an air quality test might diagnose a problem.

Knowing what your indoor air quality is and why it’s important is the first step to having a healthier, safer home. Indoor air quality refers to the condition of the air inside of and around the building, especially as it relates to the comfort and health of the occupants within. Indoor air quality health effects appear when parts of the systems that support a high level of indoor air quality are faulty or broken. Some of these systems include your Heating, Ventilation and Cooling systems (HVAC), fans, HEPA filters, windows, doors, and moisture barriers.

Indoor air quality is more than just clean smelling air, it’s also about keeping allergens and pollutants out, while constantly refreshing and renewing the air within. When indoor air quality health effects appear, it can be the first symptom of a larger problem within your home.

 

 

 

High Off-Gas Levels in Your Home Can Make You Sick

 

Off-gassing is the release of chemicals from the things we bring into our homes, or that our homes are actually made of. In drafty old houses with lots of air changes it wasn’t much of a problem, but as we build our houses tighter for energy efficiency, these chemicals can build up inside. The craziest part of it all is that we go out and buy them without knowing what’s in them, and often stockpile them in the bathroom, the tiniest room of the house with the worst ventilation.

Poor indoor air quality can affect your health in a number of ways, and research has shown that certain toxins or chemicals can build up in people’s systems and cause trouble years down the road. Children, elders, or people who suffer from chronic illness or weakened immune systems are particularly vulnerable to poor indoor air quality which can worsen symptoms or complicate existing illnesses.

While the symptoms of poor indoor air quality health effects are broad, there are a number of them that can be mistaken for other illnesses such as colds, influenza, or allergies. They are:

  • coughing
  • sneezing
  • itchy, watery eyes
  • tiredness
  • headaches
  • dizziness

 

The key sign that your trouble may be with indoor air quality health effects is that they often completely disappear as soon as you leave the room or building.Indoor air quality health effects can be experienced at any time, by any person. But when indoor air quality is a problem in your own home, these effects can become serious. Air pollution can affect asthma, COPD, or allergies, but also heart conditions like angina; it can even be a contributing factor to heart attacks or strokes. Air pollution from some pollutants like asbestos or bacteria like legionella (which causes Legionnaires’ disease) can be fatal.

Some indoor air quality health effects may show up after one exposure, while others take repeated exposure to cause symptoms, which often makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact cause of the problem.

 

Walk-In Lab Allergy Test

 

These small chemical compounds are common in many household items like wood, perfumes, paint, cleaners, glues, and solvents. They may be stable as a liquid or solid, but when exposed to air, they rapidly become gaseous and can become problematic for your indoor air quality.

 

 

Here are some of the worst offenders of off-gas and volatile organic compounds in the home:

 

Particle Board and Plywood

Judging by words of the American Chemistry Council, Formaldehyde is positively benign, a natural part of our world. And it is, in small doses. Unfortunately, it is part of the glue that holds particle board together, the stuff our houses and furniture is made of. It is a recognized carcinogen and causes eye and nose irritation. But hey, it’s a natural part of our world.

The best way to avoid formaldehyde is to buy used, whether it is an older home where it has had the time to off-gas, or furniture that has stood the test of time. Or, buy solid wood furniture instead of particle board.

 

 

Dryer Sheets

Here is a completely useless product that does nothing but add VOCs to your clothing. Chemicals include chloroform and pentanes, which the Material Safety Data Sheet suggests can cause eye and skin irritation. Ultimately, anything that is designed to make your clothes smell nice is releasing compounds you don’t want in your house.  To reduce wrinkles, static and drying time, use dryer balls instead.

Example: These Handy Laundry Sheep Wool Dryer Balls are a great alternative to liquid fabric softeners and dryer sheets.

 

 

Air Fresheners

There really are few products stupider than air fresheners, which are actually designed to pump chemicals into your home. The NRDC notes that 75% of houses now use them. Most of them are pumping out phthalates, the gender bender hormone disruptor that is the main villain in vinyl. The NRDC says:

Phthalates are hormone-disrupting chemicals that can be particularly dangerous for young children and unborn babies. Exposure to phthalates can affect testosterone levels and lead to reproductive abnormalities, including abnormal genitalia and reduced sperm production. The State of California notes that five types of phthalates—including one that we found in air freshener products—are “known to cause birth defects or reproductive harm.” Young children and pregnant women should be especially careful to avoid contact with these chemicals.

 To enhance the scent in your home, you can use essential oils and a diffuser instead of chemical sprays.  They’re safe and natural, and smell much better, anyways.

Example: These Lagunamoon Essential Oils are premium grade, natural and 100% pure. The set includes lemongrass, peppermint, orange, lavender, eucalyptus, and tea tree.

 

 

URPOWER Real Bamboo Essential Oil Diffuser Ultrasonic Aromotherapy Diffusers Cool Mist Aroma Diffuser with Adjustable Mist Modes, Waterless Auto Shut-off, 7 Color LED Lights for Home Office
Example: This Urpower Real Bamboo Essential Oil Diffuser has adjustable mist modes, 7 colored LED lights for ambience, and auto shut-off.

 

 

Nail Polish Remover With Acetone

Breathing moderate-to-high levels of acetone for short periods of time can cause nose, throat, lung, and eye irritation.  It can also cause intoxication, light-headedness, dizziness, confusion increased pulse rate, nausea, vomiting, and shortening of the menstrual cycle in women.

Use an acetone free nail polish remover instead.  A good quality remover without acetone can get the job done!

 

Example: I use this Pure Vitality Beauty polish remover, and it has never let me down. It’s free from acetone, acetate, ethyl lactate & petroleum chemicals (and it’s cruelty free).

 

 

Electronics

Many products have the flame retardant triphenyl phosphate in the insulation on their wiring; it is an endocrine disruptor that off-gases when the device heats up.

 

Non-Stick Pans

It is suspected that overheating a teflon pan can lead to the release of Perfluorinated chemicals that cause “teflon flu.”

 

Laser Printers and Copiers

The printing process releases ozone, which causes irritation to nose, throat and lungs.

Individuals who have preexisting lung problems, such as emphysema, bronchitis, or asthma, are even more at risk for the effects of ozone (O3). Children are also more susceptible to the effects of ozone (O3) and can increase their sensitivity to allergens.

 

 

Example: Aunt Fannie’s Cleaning Vinegar is an effective natural cleaner, with a pleasant fresh lime mint scent.

Household Cleaners

It is hard to know where to start with this one, so many of them are full of VOCs. That’s why people get “spring cleaning headache” from inhaling them all.

The US Department of Health and Human Services maintains a household products database where you can look up the ingredients of almost every product sold in the country. It is disturbing reading.

The EPA has noted that levels of organic pollutants can be 2 to 5 times higher inside homes rather than outside. Most of the cleaners we use are not needed;  vinegar and baking sodas are good substitutes.

If, like me, you can’t stand the smell of vinegar, try one of the many natural cleaners on the market.  They are pleasant to use, and most are very effective. 

I have used several of Aunt Fannie’s products, as well as Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day products, and have been satisfied with all of them so far.  There are many options, so get rid of your toxic cleaners and replace them with natural choices – it’s an easy change.

 

Getting Rid of VOCs

There really are two ways to deal with the buildup of VOCs:

* Don’t use products that have them in the first place, and

* Provide lots of fresh air to get rid of them.

That’s why every new house should have a heat recovery ventilator, every stove should have a real exhaust fan that vents to the exterior (not those silly recirculating noisemakers) and every bathroom should have a high quality exhaust fan that actually gets used, (not the ten buck noisy ones that most builders put in and people hate using).

 

EnviroKlenz Mobile HEPA Air Purifier

 

 

Moisture Build-up and Mold

 

Sometimes you see it, but sometimes you don’t: mold is often not visible to the naked eye, but it has a recognizably musty smell and it’s important to have it promptly -and professionally- removed.

 

Interestingly, most homeowners aren’t aware enough of the negative effects of moisture build up in various parts of the house. Moisture is simply a stepping-stone for mold or mildew to develop, even in a small sized washroom space. And while mold may look unsightly, an infiltration could be the first sign of a health risk. In any home, it’s wise to watch for the beginnings of mold, but for extra measure a high quality air test will be able to pinpoint the exact source and extent.

Found worldwide, mold is an important type of fungus. But when it grows indoors, toxic strains can proliferate and cause serious indoor air quality health effects that can make people seriously ill. Mold is often found after a water leak or flood, and can destroy construction materials and objects as well as cause health trouble.

Mold is often not visible to the naked eye, but it has a recognizably musty smell and it’s important to have it promptly -and professionally- removed. 

If you suspect that your home has a mold problem, you can pick up a mold testing kit to see if you need to  call a professional for mold removal.  Keep in mind that a mold testing kit is for mold only, and does not test for any other volatile organic compounds or off-gas.  For that, you will need a comprehensive test.

 

Example: This DIY Mold Test tests for mold and pollen.

 

 

 

 

 

Example: First Alert Carbon Monoxide Alarm

 

 

Carbon Monoxide

This odorless, invisible gas is produced by appliances that use fossil fuels, such as your furnace or gas stove. Carbon monoxide can build up in your home and it prevents your body from using oxygen efficiently – resulting in tiredness, dizziness and headaches. If the concentration is high enough, you can die. While plug-in and battery powered testers are available, have your heating and cooling systems checked by a professional yearly, and ensure appliances are correctly vented.

Every home should have a carbon monoxide detection device on every level of the home. If the home has an attached garage a CO detector should be installed in the room that shares a door with the garage. In the case of CO, monitoring is better than testing.

 

 

Here’s How You Can Be Proactive About Your Indoor Air

 

You can test your home’s indoor air quality quite easily on your own with a testing kit.  If a specific problem is found, you can then assess whether you can handle the issue or need to call the appropriate professional to take care of it.

My husband and I did this testing in our home, and it was a simple process, which saved us from paying a professional for a service call to do the testing for us (using a similar testing device).

There is a good variety of indoor air testing kits available to consumers these days, so there is really no reason to feel you have to call someone if you suspect your home’s air is causing health problems.

We used the Home Air Check, and were very satisfied with it.  Their testing device  provides a comprehensive picture of chemical levels that you are breathing when in the home. It also indicates a level of actively growing mold present in the home. Since these chemicals are tested simultaneously, this sophisticated analysis becomes less expensive than arranging for a professional to come out charge you for their time and several separate tests.

Also, the samples are collected without the use of toxic chemicals, so there are no health risks using Home Air Check. We were happy with the level of completeness, sophistication, prediction, and value of Home Air Check.

The Home Air Check Indoor Air Test measures VOC’s, formaldehyde and mold.

 

This is how the testing process works:

You use a small sampling device to collect an air sample in your home. The sampling time takes about 2 hours.  Full instructions are included in the kit (and it is very straightforward).

After the sample is collected,  you return the complete kit to the Home Air Check laboratory, where they analyze the air sample using sophisticated state-of-the-art analytical instrumentation for hundreds of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) that can be found in home air. In addition, they look for 21 specific mold compounds that can be generated when mold is actively growing in a home.

A detailed report is then generated. In this report will be a Total VOC concentration level – a total of all the VOCs found in your home. The US Green Building Council recommends a TVOC level of less than 500 ng/L to be considered a healthy environment. (The median US home is about 1,200 ng/L.) A total concentration of Mold VOCs is also listed. Generally, this number should be less than 8 ng/L or you have active mold growth you need to find.

The report also includes a Contamination Index, which gives you a prediction of which sources or materials in your home may be responsible for these contaminating chemicals, such as gasoline, paint, adhesives, odorants, personal care products, etc. Home Air Check emails you the report within 5 business days of receipt of your air sample. You can then use their phone or chat line support to answer any questions you have and to help you improve your air quality.

 

 

Thanks for visiting and reading …

I hope this article provided you some practical information. 

I welcome your comments below.

-Laurie

 

 

You may also be interested in:

Is Your Indoor Air Making Your Allergies Worse?

Simple Steps to Ease Your Allergies at Home

Prepare Your Home and HVAC System For Warmer Days

Natural Options For Managing Asthma

Thinking About Switching to Organic Makeup? Read This First …

How to Get Rid of Bed Bugs

Best Air Purifiers for COPD – Full Reviews

Detailed Review of the SoClean CPAP Cleaner

Choosing The Right Allergy Treatment (So Many Options!)

Oxygen Therapy for COPD – Pros and Cons

The Most Effective Stop Smoking Aids Reviewed

Best Treadmills for Seniors Home Fitness

Should You Buy an Electric Bike?

The Best Elliptical Machines Reviewed

Find The Best Bathroom Scale for You

The Fix for Cracked Heels

The Best Foot Bath Massagers – Full Reviews

Top 10 Massage Chairs – Full Reviews

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