Good indoor air is important - especially if you suffer from asthma or allergies. First and foremost you should make sure that your house is well ventilated, and try to remove what is irritating you, but in some cases it may also help to have an air purifier or air humidifier at home.
Air pollution is a concept mostly used when referring to industries or exhaust fumes from cars in your outdoor environment, but actuality it is inside our own homes that the air is most polluted. Insufficient ventilation implies that pollen, dust, smoke, dust mites, chemicals, pet allergens, perfumes, cleaning chemicals and other irritating substances are not properly cleared, but stay inside the house. Prolonged exposure to poor indoor air may lead to development of asthma and allergies, and for the already affected person, the symptoms may worsen. To some people with asthma and allergies, an air purifier that filters particles and air pollution may make everyday life more pleasant when the disease peaks.
There are many different types of air purifiers designed to be used in your home, and which one suits you the best depends on which substance you would like to get rid of. Before buying an air purifier it is also important to consider what room to put it in. Some purifiers are noisy and loud and may not be suitable for the bedroom.
Traditional, mechanical purifiers are run by a fan pushing the indoor air through several different filters. Apart from a carbon filter a HEPA(high-efficiency particulate air)-filter also catches particles in the air. The filters usually need to be changed now and then, since the filtration decreases as more particles gather. Mechanical purifiers work well in catching pet allergens, dust mites, mould, bacteria and smoke. Other air purifiers use UV-light, negative ions, ozone or photocatalysis to remove the pollution, and some systems combine several techniques.
Don't hesitate to talk with your doctor about which one will suit your needs the best. Please note that an air purifier does not replace cleaning or treatment with adequate medicines. One way of preventing problems caused by your home environment is to not use wall-to-wall carpets and to avoid "dust traps", since dust irritates the airways and contains allergy provoking substances. Try to keep all areas open and easy to clean, and choose easily washable textiles. A central vacuum cleaner, or a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA-filter is a good option too as it prevents particles from spreading in the air.
During winter, the indoor air is dryer, which may cause dryness in the nose, throat and skin, And if you suffer from asthma your symptoms may get worse. An air humidifier makes the air more humid and easier to breathe for a person with asthma or an allergy, especially if suffering from a cold or another infection of the respiratory tract.
If you are using an air humidifier it is a good thing to keep track of the atmospheric humidity with a hygrometer. If the air humidity is too high it is beneficial for dust mites, bacteria and mould in the house, which in turn can cause or worsen allergic symptoms. It is also important to often change the water and to make sure that all the filters in the air humidifier are clean. Otherwise bacteria and mould may start growing, even inside the humidifier. Water vapour coming from a dirty air humidifier may cause, apart from asthma- or allergy, cold-like symptoms and lung infections even among otherwise healthy people.
UK/GEN/15/0057e Date of preparation: December 2015
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