Spring time is a tough time for many asthma, allergy sufferers

July 1, 1993

Spring time is a tough time for many asthma, allergy sufferers

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Spring is that time of year when most people embark on that all-American ritual known as spring cleaning. For those who suffer from allergies, which can trigger asthma attacks, it is even more important to learn how to properly clean the home to help reduce attacks. The best room to start with is the bedroom. This is the space in which we spend more than half our lives. Following are some tips for cleaning the bedroom:

• Wash bed sheets often. When removing sheets, start from the corners and roll to the center to reduce dust mites and other allergens from being released into the air.

• Dry clean comforters every six months. In between, wash them regularly and leave them in the dryer for 15 to 30 minutes.

• Wash curtains often. If they are not washable, consider replacing them with cotton curtains.

• Remove and clean window air-conditioning filters.

• Dust all picture frames, walls and floor surfaces using a slightly damp cloth. Do not use a feather duster, as it is more likely to scatter dust.

• Try to remove all wall-to-wall carpeting.

• Regardless of whether you have carpeting, vacuum the room thoroughly at least once a week, making sure to cover the areas under and around the bed.

• Remove any hampers from the bedroom. Damp and dirty clothes can increase mold and mildew.

• Don’t over-water house plants, as the resulting dampness could encourage the growth of mold.

• Keep all garbage bins, cans and trash compactors clean and free of mildew.

• Avoid opening windows to “air out” the house. This could cause pollen to come into the house from outside.

• Control humidity by installing central air conditioning.

Following these tips can help prevent an allergy or asthma attack. However, when they do occur, the proper medication should be administered. In this case, a “rescue” medication is necessary, such as Xopenex (levalbuterol), which is approved for children as young as 6. These medications immediately relax the muscles that are constricting the lungs, allowing the person to breathe more easily.

Dr. David Shoberg, a pediatric pulmonologist at Rockford Pediatric Pulmonology Center in Rockford, is available to speak with you regarding how best to reduce allergens while spring cleaning.

For additional information, visit the Allergy & Asthma Network Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA) Web site at www.aanma.org/homesweet/hs_bedroom.htm, and the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology Web site at www.aaaai.org/patients/advocate/1999/spring/springcleaning.stm.

Asthma is a chronic lung disease caused by inflammation of the lower airways and episodes of airflow obstruction. During an asthma attack, the bronchial airways become narrowed as the bronchial muscles tighten, causing coughing, wheezing and difficulty breathing. In many cases, an attack can become life-threatening, and may require immediate medical attention along with a “rescue medication.”

Each year, nearly 500,000 Americans are hospitalized and more than 5,000 die from asthma. There is no cure for asthma, but with proper medication, such as Xopenex (levalbuterol), asthma attacks can be controlled.

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