Anyone who has breathing difficulties knows just how much it can seriously affect quality of life. Unfortunately, as pollution levels rise, so, too, does the rate of asthma. Recent data from the Center for Disease Control reveals hard truths. In the U.S., for example, 1 in 12 adults have asthma and 9 die from it every day.  Of course, pollution’s not the only culprit. Asthma has many causes, after all, and while there may not be a cure, the disease is certainly manageable.
5 Things About Asthma You Probably Don’t Know
Asthma is a challenging issue to address, because there are a number of underlying factors that contribute to the disease. As you may know, addressing the underlying cause is the best way to approach any type of health condition. In order to understand the full spectrum of factors associated with asthma, here’s 5 things you should keep in mind.
1. Energy Efficiency is Partly to Blame
Despite more and more homes being made energy efficient, asthma rates continue to rise. A study out of the UK suggests these efficient homes ventilate less, leading to a damper environment conducive for mold.  Not only that, poor ventilation could lead to exposure to other asthma-triggering contaminants, and high humidity could invite household dust mites and other nasties.
2. A Little Dirt Can Be a Good Thing
Sometimes we can be a little too clean, and that could be hurting our children. Many studies suggest over protecting a child from germs can lead to a greater risk for developing asthma, allergies, and other autoimmune diseases during adulthood. For example, hand sanitizers and anti-bacterial wipes are two things we tend to overuse on our kids (and ourselves). Often, plain old soap and water is the best way to go. The latest study even suggests exposing newborns to certain bacteria during the first two weeks of life can help protect them against asthma. 
3. Giving Antibiotics to Infants Can Make Them More Prone to Asthma
While avoiding antibacterial products could be beneficial to your child’s health, it might pay to avoid heavy antibiotic use. The premise is the same here: overuse leads to bacterial resistance, and this, in turn, could increase a child’s risk for asthma. According to a large study, infants who take antibiotics are twice as likely than their counterparts to develop wheezing. 
4. Convenient, Spray-On Sunscreen Can Cause an Attack
While those spray-on sunscreens may be super convenient, the FDA is currently studying whether or not these aerosols are dangerous to kids who have breathing difficulties. The worry is that spraying these on or near the faces of these kids could trigger attacks. In the meantime, Consumer Reports reminds us to look into other options.  With UV radiation always a concern, maybe this could be a great time to look into a new, non-aerosol sunscreen.
5. Where Asthma Is, Allergies Are Found
An astonishing 90 percent of US kids with asthma also have allergies, suggesting a link between the two. In the case of some of these kids, especially those with poorly controlled or undiagnosed asthma, these allergies can cause reactions that are tough to handle. Take the case of the US toddler who went into anaphylactic shock after eating an orange. Oddly enough, she had orange juice before without a concern, but she also turned out to have undiagnosed asthma. In the toddler’s case, and others like hers, one thought is that it might not be the fruit causing the allergic reaction, but the pesticides on the fruit.  Asthma is a very real concern worldwide, but many people assume it’s only a concern in the city; however, recent reports suggest it’s much more widespread. The disease has slowly moved into rural communities and suburbs, and it’s not going away. 
Are you living with asthma? How do you control it? Share your story or your thoughts about this article in the comments.
- CDC. CDC Vital Signs. Center for Disease Control.
- Sharpe, R. et al. Higher energy efficient homes are associated with increased risk of doctor diagnosed asthma in a UK subpopulation. Environment International. 75.
- Elahi, S. et al. Immunosuppressive CD71+ erythroid cells compromise neonatal host defence against infection. Nature. 504.
- Ong, M, et al. Consequences of antibiotics and infections in infancy: bugs, drugs, and wheezing. Annals of Asthma, Allergies, and Immunology. 112 (5).
- Consumer Reports. Don't spray sunscreens on kids, at least for now. Consumer Reports.
- American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Allergic reaction to antibiotic residues in foods? You may have to watch what your fruits and veggies eat. American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
- Keet, C. et al. Neighborhood poverty, urban residence, race/ethnicity, and asthma: Rethinking the inner-city asthma epidemic. The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology.
†Results may vary. Information and statements made are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. If you have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.