unexpected asthma triggers

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Unexpected Asthma Triggers – How To Stay Healthy During Allergy Season

2 minute read

Nearly 8% of all adults in the U.S. currently have asthma, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Of those approximately 20 million people, many are unaware of how to avoid asthma triggers. While most asthma sufferers can feel when they’re having an asthma attack– characterized by wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath–the CDC reports that many of them are unaware of how to avoid what’s causing the attack.

Common triggers include things like tobacco smoke, mold, outdoor air pollution, and colds and flu. But even when minimizing contact with those common irritants, asthma sufferers may find that their symptoms persist at odd times and in unexpected places.

Awareness is crucial in preventing asthma attacks, so let’s look at some unexpected triggers to keep an eye on. For any questions on your asthma diagnosis and general health, be sure to consult your doctor.

5 Unexpected Asthma Triggers

1. Acid Reflux and GERD

Research has revealed that GERD (gastroesophageal reflux disease) is more common in people with asthma than in the general population. This could be for a couple of reasons:

  • Acid reflux damages the esophagus, causing heartburn and general pain in the chest area. This can potentially lead to or exacerbate asthma attacks.
  • Conversely, asthma attacks can lead to GERD because the motion and force of severe coughing and wheezing may cause stomach acid to enter the esophagus.

In either case, if you have asthma, be aware of GERD and heartburn. Treating acid reflux can lead to increased general well-being and help lessen the severity of asthma attacks.

2. Food Additives

Common food additives and preservatives may irritate your immune system and airways. Sulfites are a preservative often added to things like wine, dried fruit, baked goods, and other processed foods. If you notice a certain type of food irritates your asthma, look at the ingredients list to see if anything raises a red flag. There are typically alternatives you can eat that don’t include additives.

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3. Food Allergies

Beyond the additives mentioned above, whole foods can irritate asthma if you have an unknown allergy or intolerance. Food allergies don’t always present as a closed airway or hives. Sometimes symptoms can be as simple as an upset stomach or fatigue. To see if any common foods are causing allergy symptoms, you can talk to your doctor about trying an elimination diet.

4. Air Fresheners and Scented Candles

It’s tempting to mask household odors with air fresheners or scented candles. But be aware that these often introduce harmful VOCs (volatile organic compounds) to your home. Added fragrances or the smoke from candles can cause allergy symptoms that lead to asthma attacks. Try to increase the ventilation to your living space for better odor control and to prevent contaminated air.

5. Aspirin

In the medical field, there’s a well-known correlation between asthma attacks and aspirin or other pain relievers known as NSAIDs (nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs). But if you’re unaware of your asthma or the severity of the symptoms, you may want to be mindful of how often you’re taking common pain relievers. Talk to your doctor if you have any questions.

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    AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Home |

    Homeowners, What Pests Are in Your Region?

    3 minute read

    Click play to listen to the Homeowners, What Pests Are in Your Region article.

    You do your best to make your home a comfortable, inviting place that friends and family love to be in. But there are certainly some guests you don’t want to welcome into your home environment.

    Pests like termites, insects, and other creepy crawlers will make themselves at home in warm, damp areas. These unwelcome guests find their way into basements, attics, crawl spaces, and garages, and can do real damage to the structural integrity and safety of your home.

    What pests should you look out for? That can depend on what region of the country you live in and the type of home you have.

    Let’s take a look at the most common house pests by region:

    Continental United States – Ants

    The U.S. is home to nearly 1,000 species of ants, ranging in size, color, and tendencies. Most ants stay outdoors all year long, but a few varieties find their way indoors all over the country in the warmer months.

    Ants seek out water and food, which is why you’ll typically see them in your bathroom, kitchen, or basement. They often find water that comes from leaky pipes, backed-up drains, and areas of intense humidity.

    To prevent ant infestations, you should close up any gaps in siding and windows, fix leaking pipes and sitting water, and clean up food in the kitchen. They’ll go after pet food as well, so try to avoid leaving out cat or dog food when possible.

    Northwest – Spiders

    While ants are common in houses during the summertime, it’s the colder weather that brings spiders indoors in the Northwest U.S.

    Nearly all species of spider are harmless to humans. They can even be beneficial in your home, preying on other pests like flies, cockroaches, mosquitoes, and moths.

    Even knowing the potential benefits, it’s understandable if you’d prefer to not have spiders roaming the walls of your home. To remove them, try to capture them in a jar or other container and release them outdoors where they can continue their pest control on the exterior of your home.

    There are several strategies you can try to keep spiders out, especially in high-traffic areas like your bedroom or living room. Again, closing up obvious gaps in your home’s siding and windows, and removing any standing water will be helpful.

    Midwest and South – Mosquitoes

    The heat and humidity of summer are perfect for mosquitoes. And unlike other pests on this list, mosquitoes can be harmful to humans when they’re carrying illnesses like the Zika virus and malaria.

    Mosquitoes are hard to avoid when you’re outdoors in humid areas, but keeping them out of the house can be accomplished with a few simple changes.

    If you have any open windows for ventilation or for air conditioner units, repair or replace broken window screens and make sure there’s a tight seal.

    Mosquitoes love dark, damp places, so check for leaky pipes under sinks and in your basement and laundry room. Big picture, make sure to prioritize humidity control throughout your home to avoid mosquito infestations.

    Aprilaire whole-home dehumidifiers offer a comprehensive way to manage humidity all year long.

    Northeast – Rodents

    Northeastern states can experience extreme winter weather, forcing people to hunker down in the warmth and security of their homes.

    Pests like mice and rats will also seek out warmer areas in the winter months, and they’ll often find them in basements and garages. It’s not uncommon to find nests filled with food that the rodents have stored up to last through the winter.

    Like prevention strategies for other pests, you’ll want to seal up any gaps in your siding, insulation, and foundation. Additionally, check for any water leaks and make sure your garbage and food scraps are always securely stored.

    Hawaii – Cockroaches

    The year-round warm weather of Hawaii makes it a dreamy vacation spot. But that tropical climate is also perfect for cockroaches.

    There are four species of cockroach that infiltrate homes in Hawaii, often in search of food and water.

    Since most homes in tropical areas aren’t built to be air-tight, it can be difficult to seal up all entry points. The main tactic you can use is to remove food and water sources, and consider extermination if the problem becomes persistent and overwhelming.

    Luxury Heating Company

    AA Homepage Articles | Healthy Clean Air |

    Get the Facts: Interview with Healthy Air Hero Paul Samek

    6 minute read

    Here at Aprilaire, our mission is to fill your home with Healthy Air. But first, it may help to understand what’s actually in your home. While almost every home comes with standard ventilation and air filtration systems, what’s the difference between those systems and systems upgraded with Aprilaire products? We interviewed Aprilaire Healthy Air Hero and President of Luxury Heating Company Paul Samek to get the facts, share the benefits of caring for your air, and help you figure out what’s really in your home.

    Thank you so much for helping answer some of our questions, Paul. Can you start by telling us about Luxury Heating Company—where in the country do you do business and what kind of services do you provide?

    “My name is Paul Samek. I’m among the third generation at Luxury Heating Company. We are on the west side of Cleveland, Ohio, and next year will be our 75th year in business. We primarily offer HVAC and Indoor Air Quality solutions for residential and light commercial applications.

    While we’re an old company, we’re still very much evolving as we become more diverse and bring on new services that make sense for our business. With this evolution has come this increased awareness about Indoor Air Quality systems. A portion of our business, about 35–40%, is still new construction, which is nice because we have an opportunity to actually talk to the homebuilders and the clients.”

    Let’s talk about indoor air. Why is it important to have fresh air ventilation and air filtration technology in each home?

    “I don’t think it’s any surprise to a customer when we bring up air filtration—so the concept of having the filtration and air purification in whatever capacity that might be is important. They understand very easily the difference in upgrading from a one-inch filter to a media air filtration system.

    When it comes to ventilation, that’s a much bigger conversation. These houses are built so tight today. We have more and more builders that we are working with that are building these ENERGY STAR® homes. So, it’s an airtight house and with our cold climate, we don’t open the windows. Natural ventilation isn’t sufficient anymore because you don’t have the opportunity to open up the house like you used to.”

    A lot of people are buying homes these days. What can new homeowners or those who are looking to buy new homes expect from a standard HVAC system compared to one upgraded with Aprilaire fresh air ventilation and air filtration products?

    “Whether it’s a new home or even an older home, your most standard HVAC systems have that one-inch, horsehair-style filter that doesn’t really filter air properly. We will explain to customers that all a one-inch filter is really doing is protecting the equipment from big particles circulating throughout the house and throughout your duct system. Now there’s also the 3M filters: one-inch filters that are like sticking a sheet of glass in there, so those are what I would consider within the standard HVAC system. Another part of having the standard system is that the fan only runs when the system is in heating or cooling mode. Any homeowners that have allergies or asthma know that they typically are the worst in the spring or in the fall when your system is running the least.

    With a new HVAC system, whether it’s a gas furnace or an electric air handler, most have a true ECM motor that is going to continuously be filtering the air, regardless of whether it’s heating or cooling or not. Coupling that with a ventilation system and an Aprilaire media air cleaner, it’s going to not only continuously be moving the air throughout the house and throughout the system, but it’s also going to be cleaning it—not just recycling it. You’re not only bringing that fresh air in to help make the indoor air much healthier, but you’re also filtering it. So, a standard system is just recycling. A new, modern HVAC system that we can incorporate an Aprilaire whole-house ventilation system into will help homeowners feel much better and it’s going to be a much cleaner environment inside.”

    So, what are the added benefits of upgrading to Aprilaire products when dealing with ventilation and air filtration?

    “We found that, throughout the pandemic, so many people were cooped up in their houses, especially during the early phases when there were lockdowns. The pandemic created these conversations and awareness of Indoor Air Quality, and we had a lot of customers—and even some of my family members—who had pets and allergies who were experiencing the effects of poor indoor air. But when we add in the ventilation and air filtration systems, the feedback we would get on that is ‘I don’t have to use my inhaler like I did’ and ‘I can tell the difference from when I go outside to when I come back in the house.’

    One of our customers that I worked closely with had a premature baby, and she shared that they did not want to leave the house. When they did, her son’s breathing changed, and once they got back in the house, he was breathing much better. That was a direct result of having the appropriate amount of ventilation and filtration in place. This was a real eye-opening case of the added benefits of these systems. Yes, you’re going to have a cleaner home, people can see that, but they don’t understand that what you’re breathing, and what your children are breathing, that’s the big difference between not having the systems in place versus having them in place.

    As another example, my younger sister has really bad asthma and allergies. She has a dog and a cat, and she lives in an older home. She even noticed she wasn’t using her inhaler anymore when she was inside the house because of having that ventilation. By having that controlled ventilation, when coupled with the media air cleaner, it brought the health of the home to the point where she maybe uses her inhaler every now and then, as opposed to a couple of times a day. Our team loves to see these real life and very close to home situations and the impact that our work can have. How can you not want to talk about it when you know what type of impact that it can make?”

    We recently conducted a survey and found that the majority of people don’t even know if their home has a ventilation system. Is there a way people can conduct an audit of their own systems so they can see if they need to upgrade?

    “For anyone that is not mechanically inclined or doesn’t have any type of trade or mechanical background, it’s hard for them to conduct their own audit. A lot of times, customers think they have a ventilation system because they have that duct that is just sitting in the basement. But to be able to identify it on your own is tricky. One of the benefits of having your system serviced is that you can have the conversation with the service technician to be able to say, ‘Do I have one? How does it work? Where is it located?’ We like to try and help our customers as much as we can, but that’s one that I think would be hard for them to truly be able to identify or help them identify over the phone because of all the ductwork.

    As far as signs of needing an upgrade—on the ventilation side, moisture is probably one of the biggest things that would come to mind. When homeowners start to see condensation on the ductwork or see the ductwork sweat, they should consider upgrading it to a ventilation system that’s more controlled versus just bringing in air. Regardless of the outdoor temperature and humidity, one of the key things is to eliminate and reduce the number of unintended consequences of a ventilation system. So, I’d say moisture is one of those things that you can see that’s telling you that you need something better.”

    What is one piece of advice you would give the readers about caring for the air inside their homes?

    “I think that trying to research things online is such a slippery slope, and it’s hard to find really credible information that is unbiased. I think that when you talk to a NATE-certified service technician, they’re the ones who are in and out of homes more than anyone. You should find a contractor with that certification and that has an investment in Indoor Air Quality. They care for the customer and want to give them the most appropriate information versus the most convenient information. So, I think that it’s really important to get somebody certified and qualified to talk about all different homes and their equipment needs.”

    Make Indoor Air Quality a Priority

    Aprilaire uses practical science to bring you real, human benefits through our Indoor Air Quality solutions. Who wouldn’t want to breathe easy knowing they are breathing the best air possible? Get the facts from experts like Paul Samek, and make sure you know what’s really in your air. Take the first step. Find a certified Aprilaire Healthy Air Hero in your area today!

    Healthy Air Is on the Way

    Find an Aprilaire professional near you.

    American Lung Association

    Aprilaire Partners Logged In Homepages | News |

    Breathing Healthy Air: Interview with the American Lung Association

    4 minute read

    At Aprilaire, we encourage breathing Healthy Air because we know it benefits your overall health. The American Lung Association knows it too. That’s why Aprilaire air filters are the National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association*, playing a key role in the fight to improve lung health and prevent lung disease.

    We got to interview National Senior Vice President of Development Sally Draper about the importance of Healthy Air and how both Aprilaire and the American Lung Association are working together to help you Breathe the Fullness of Life.

    Could you introduce yourself for the readers and tell us about why you chose a career with the American Lung Association?

    “I joined the Lung Association in 2014 because I was attracted to its comprehensive mission—to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Every day we help Americans breathe easier through our efforts to fund innovative research, advocate for policies that protect our lungs, and educate patients, caregivers, providers, and the public with science-backed information. We were founded more than 115 years ago, and the needs are greater today than ever before, including the youth vaping epidemic, climate change, and COVID-19!”

    Can you tell us about the American Lung Association’s mission?

    “The American Lung Association is the leading organization working to save lives by improving lung health and preventing lung disease. Our work is focused on four strategic imperatives: to defeat lung cancer; champion clean air for all; improve the quality of life for those with lung disease and their families; and create a tobacco-free future. Whether it’s searching for cures to lung diseases, keeping kids off tobacco, or advocating for laws that protect the air we breathe, the work of the American Lung Association helps to save lives every day.”

    How did Aprilaire and the American Lung Association come to work together in the first place? What does that relationship look like presently?

    “Aprilaire and the American Lung Association forged a new relationship in 2018. We quickly realized how much we had in common. Our partnership was developed as we saw an opportunity to educate and help more consumers improve the air in their homes to create a healthier environment.

    Since 2020, Aprilaire has been a Proud Partner of the Lung Association with its 4” residential air filters. Additionally, Aprilaire joined the Lung Association as our FY20 National Fight For Air Climb Partner For Healthy Air. The company has also supported the Lung Association’s “Stand Up For Clean Air” campaign. As part of this initiative, we are driving conversations around air quality, climate, and health. The Lung Association invited people to share their #MyCleanAirStory—knowing that when people realize climate and air quality are impacting the health of their neighbors, friends, and loved ones—they are more willing to act. Aprilaire provided prizes for the #MyCleanAirStory contest, including one grand prize of a whole-home Indoor Air Quality upgrade (the Aprilaire Healthy Air System™) and nine Aprilaire Room Air Purifiers. This year, the company stepped up once again to sponsor the Wisconsin Fight For Air Climb in Milwaukee. Also in 2021, the Lung Association welcomed Dale Philippi, President and CEO of Research Products Corporation, Aprilaire’s parent company, to the Lung Association’s Wisconsin Leadership Board of Directors.”

    Tell us about the Fight For Air Climb.

    “The American Lung Association’s Fight For Air Climb is the nation’s premier stair climbing challenge. At 38 events nationwide, children and adults of all ages participate in this celebratory stair-climbing adventure. Pre-pandemic, the Fight For Air Climb was held in several of our country’s most iconic skyscrapers. This year, the Lung Association invited participants outdoors for a one-of-a-kind adventure to support healthy lungs and clean air. In fact, Dale was among the company’s team of more than 50 employees that climbed the stairs at Milwaukee’s American Family Field on May 22nd, proving he puts his feet, time, and talent behind causes he supports.

    Aprilaire has been a stalwart partner in the Fight For Air Climb, promoting the event to employees, customers, trade partners, family, and friends. Through this unique vehicle, the company is engaging individuals of all ages to understand and celebrate the importance of Healthy Air.”

    Aprilaire’s air filters are a National Proud Partner of the American Lung Association. How do you feel our mission aligns with yours?

    “Our CEO, Harold Wimmer, has said, ‘Breathing should not be an uphill battle, but for many it is… no one should have to fight for air on a daily basis.’ Similarly, Dale has declared, ‘We believe everyone deserves to breathe Healthy Air.’ As a National Proud Partner, Aprilaire’s mission to enhance everyone’s health by improving the air in their homes aligns very closely with that of the American Lung Association, champion of clean air for all.”

    What are the benefits of breathing Healthy Air and what are everyday things that people can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life?

    “Clean air is essential for healthy lungs. The American Lung Association works to ensure that the air we breathe is clean and safe from harmful pollution. In fact, every year we publish our State of the Air Report, which looks at two of the most widespread and dangerous air pollutants, ozone and fine particulate matter. Our 2021 State of the Air Report found that more than 4 in 10 Americans—over 135 million people—are living in places with unhealthy levels of ozone or particle pollution.

    One of the most important things you can do to Breathe the Fullness of Life is to keep sources of pollution out of your home. Check out these commonsense tips on Lung.org. Additionally, ventilation helps reduce indoor air pollution, but it works best if paired with keeping known sources of air pollution out of the building. For tips on how to use ventilation to protect your lung health, check out our section on Ventilation: How Buildings Breathe.”

    Fight for Healthy Air

    At Aprilaire, we believe everyone deserves to Breathe the Fullness of Life, and we’re not the only ones that feel this way. Through our Proud Partnership with the American Lung Association, we aim to fill every home with Healthy Air. Both Aprilaire and the Lung Association believe that breathing Healthy Air should be available to everyone, and maintaining healthy Indoor Air Quality is an important step for your lung health. Read more about our partnership and the efforts of the American Lung Association on their website.

    *Disclaimer: The American Lung Association does not endorse any product, device, or service.

    St. Vincent de Paul

    AA Homepage Articles | News |

    2021: Aprilaire’s Good Neighbor Values

    2 minute read

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    We take the importance of caring for others to heart at Aprilaire. We believe we have a purpose beyond the individual work we do and that being a successful company also means “Being a Good Neighbor.” It’s one of our core values, and something we put into action each year.

    We remain committed to helping our local communities in a number of ways, including financial contributions and volunteering. In the past, we’ve raised funds to provide pack-n-plays to mothers in need, volunteered at local blood drives, and held various donation drives throughout the year.

    While our partnership opportunities may look different in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’re excited to continue our work with the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, whose mission statement reads:

    “A membership organization, the Society began working in Madison in 1925 with two parish-based groups of members serving their neighbors in need. Today, programs the Society operates in Dane County include a large customer-choice food pantry, a charitable pharmacy, storage for the goods of persons who are homeless, seven thrift stores offering direct charity, housing at Port St. Vincent de Paul and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton House, and several other forms of assistance for people struggling with poverty.”

    We’ve been working with St. Vincent de Paul – Madison since 2014, giving us a number of incredible opportunities to give back and live out our mission of being Good Neighbors.

    We believe the work they’re doing to provide assistance for our community is more important than ever right now, which is why it’s our honor to be a 2021 Platinum Sponsor for St. Vincent de Paul’s 6th Annual Care Café fundraising breakfast on May, 5th 2021. The theme is “Love Made Visible.”

    They’re going virtual this year, which means they have unlimited capacity to reach their goal of $140,000. If you live in Dane County, we encourage you to attend the virtual event and support our neighbors in need through your contributions to the food pantry, free pharmacy, and housing programs.

     Click here for more information on St. Vincent de Paul – Madison to see how you can get involved.

    Or find a charity in your area that you may be able to connect with to make an impact.

    flights

    AA Homepage Articles | News |

    Experts Say Flights Can Resume, But Bring Increased Risks

    2 minute read

    Air quality experts say that it is safe to resume flying, but travelers must take advanced precautions before traveling like taking shorter flights when possible, wearing masks, and social distancing. 

    In an opinion piece for The Washington Post, Joseph Allen, an assistant professor of exposure assessment science at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, makes the case that airplanes do not make you sick. In fact, airplanes have comparable levels of air filtration and fresh air ventilation to a health care facility

    Flights May Be Less Comfortable With Recommendations

    He argues that airlines should continue disinfecting high-touch areas such as armrests and tray tables, stop in-flight food service, mandate mask-wearing, and ask patrons to keep their above ventilation fan on throughout the flight. While these adjustments make flying less enjoyable, they can help reduce in-flight virus transmission. Masks are currently required on public transportation. 

    Allen is not the only one saying it is safe to resume flying. 

    ‘Safer Than Eating At A Restaurant’

    Linsey Marr, an engineering professor at Virginia Tech, in a CNN article writes, “When HEPA ventilation systems are running on a plane and everyone is masked, the risk of Covid-19 is greatly reduced and makes air travel on a big jet safer than eating at a restaurant.”

    Activities Create Biggest Risks

    She and Allen argue that the biggest risks in airline travel stem from activities like the pre-flight boarding process or when a flight is delayed and people are stuck on the plane. Marr, who has been wearing an air quality monitor when she travels, said CO2 levels are elevated during these aforementioned activities and are indicative of a lack of fresh air ventilation. 

    Marr told CNN that “A CO2 (carbon dioxide) level of 3,000 ppm means that for every breath I take in, about 7% of the air is other people’s exhaled breath…like drinking someone else’s backwash!”

    The airport also presents other problems for travelers.

    Allen suggests airports create more touchless experiences, upgrade their HVAC system, and require masks. Some updates have already been implemented in some airports or will be implemented in the future. 

    Other experts suggest carrying your own personal hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, and sticking to shorter flights

    Even though there are risks to flying, Marr and Allen say you are clear for takeoff this summer