5 Ways To Beat Environmental Respiratory Irritants

If you have powerful allergies, chemical sensitivities, asthma or other respiratory issues, you probably spend a large percentage of your time feeling miserable and worrying about your health. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to reduce your exposure to irritants and enjoy easier breathing. Here are five ideas to consider.

1. Control Pet Dander

As much as you love your pet, you probably know by now whether your respiratory system feels the same way. Dogs, cats, and other animals shed tiny flecks of skin known as dander, and this dander can cause serious allergy issues in humans. If you can't bear the thought of giving up your pet, then:

  • Mop and vacuum your home as frequently as possible.
  • Ask a family member or professional groomer to bathe your pet on a regular basis.
  • Move your pet's feeding area, litter box, toys and bedding to specific part of the house, away from your most frequently-used rooms. This not only lowers the amount of dander you encounter, but it also confines most of the accumulated dander to a single, easy-to-clean spot.

2. Inspect Your Air Systems

Whole-house heating and cooling systems can collect mold and dust over time. During hot or cold months when the system sees the most use, the fan blows these materials throughout the home on a daily basis. This can lead to serious respiratory distress -- additionally, mold spores can also cause fevers, eye and skin irritation, and lung infections in sensitive individuals. Tips for fighting this issue include the following:

  • Replace your air filters on a regular basis. As the filters become stuffed with dust and mold, they lose their ability to protect you from these substances.
  • Have a HVAC service company like http://www.a-ccontractors.com check inside the air conditioning duct for signs of mold buildup. Accumulated mold in the ducts may require a thorough cleaning from the service technician, or perhaps even full-scale professional mold remediation.

3. Wear a Protective Mask

If you experience breathing problems in public places due to tobacco smoke or other common airborne irritants, a face mask might make outdoor jaunts considerably easier. These masks usually cover the nose and mouth. A charcoal filter or other filtering device inside mask removes particulate matter from the air you inhale. The filter will eventually become saturated with whatever it has removed from the atmosphere, so choose a mask that allows you to remove and replace filters as needed.

4. Stop Using Your Humidifier

If you had severe nasal congestion from a recent cold or suffered from dry, bleeding nasal passages caused by dry air, a humidifier may have provided some relief. But that doesn't mean you should run the humidifier constantly as a cure-all for respiratory issues. The extra moisture these devices add to the air encourages mold, mildew, dust mites, and bacteria -- all of which can cause breathing problems. If you must use a humidifier, then use it sparingly, and clean it every couple of days to discourage mold growth.

5. Get Tested for Food Allergies

The source of your breathing problem may be the food you eat, not anything floating in the air. Food allergies can produce a variety of respiratory symptoms, including runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and congestion. In some cases, an allergen in your food can trigger an asthma attack.

  • You can find out whether you have such a food allergy by undergoing allergy testing at your local health clinic. (The testing process can also detect a variety of other kinds of allergens.)
  • If a food allergy is suspected, your doctor can isolate it by switching you to a hypoallergenic diet, and then restoring your regular menu items one at a time until a reaction occurs.

By controlling your home environment, protecting yourself against outdoor irritants, and having yourself tested for allergies, you can get the upper hand over a variety of common respiratory threats. That knowledge alone is reason enough to breathe a little easier!