Air Quality, Allergies, and Asthma

Air Quality, Allergies, and Asthma | UPMC Italy

Plant pollen, mold spores, gasoline emissions, dust and smoke are typical outdoor and indoor allergens, which if inhaled or ingested can irritate the lungs and trigger allergic reactions.

Allergy Symptoms

Seasonal allergies – the common "hay fever"-are chronic and characterized by a range of symptoms, which can improve or worsen over time. These include:

  • Difficulty sleeping, frequent awakenings during the night.
  • Sore throat.
  • Stuffy or runny nose.
  • Itchy throat or ears.
  • Itching or redness of the eyes.
  • Frequent sneezing.

Treatment of Allergies

The main treatments for allergies are:

  • Antihistamine eye drops.
  • Decongestants.
  • Antihistamine pills.
  • Salt water nasal rinses.
  • Steroid nasal sprays.

Improving Indoor Air Quality

To optimize indoor air quality, it is essential to adopt practices that promote proper ventilation and reduce the presence of allergens. Here are some useful suggestions:

  • Vacuum floors and glass surfaces at least twice a week to remove dust and suspended allergens.
  • Perform regular cleaning of household surfaces to remove any traces of dust, pollen, or mold, thus helping to maintain a healthier and more comfortable environment.
  • Invest in certified air purifiers and filters capable of removing up to 98 percent of allergenic particles in the environment.
  • Schedule regular cleaning of bedding and soft surfaces, such as the sofa, to remove allergen buildup.
  • Use allergen-repellent protective covers on mattresses, pillows, and furniture in order to keep dust mite proliferation under control.

Air Quality and Asthma

It is estimated that more than 30 million people in Europe are affected by bronchial asthma, and the prevalence in adulthood in Italy is around 5%. This condition is the most common chronic respiratory disease of pediatric age, affecting about 10% of children in Italy.

Asthma causes inflammation of the airways, making it more difficult for air to enter and leave the lungs. In cases where symptoms worsen at certain times of the year, we speak of seasonal asthma. If left unchecked, asthma can cause permanent damage to the airways.

The most common triggers and causes are:

  • Allergens such as pollen, mold, pet dander and dust mites.
  • Cold air or climate change.
  • Smoking.
  • Infections such as sinusitis, colds and flu.
  • Air pollution.

Symptoms of Asthma

Seasonal symptoms of asthma are varied. The cold air of late fall or winter can cause spasm of the airways resulting in coughing, shortness of breath, or wheezing. In spring and warmer months, however, high pollen counts are a major trigger. Symptoms can range from mild to severe, including:

  • Sleep disturbances.
  • Pain or tightness in the chest.
  • Coughing or wheezing.

Treatment of Asthma

The treatment of asthma is divided into two treatment approaches:

  • Relief therapy: is used to relieve the symptoms of an asthma attack, usually using an inhaler. Patients can find relief within minutes of the attack.
  • Preventive therapy: corticosteroid inhalers are the prescribed regimen to help patients prevent lung damage and prevent an asthma attack from occurring. They are used daily.

Treatment plans are tailored to the diagnosis, and any new or worsening symptoms should be discussed between the patient and the treating physician.

When to See an Allergy and Asthma Specialist

When allergic symptoms become severe or persist despite initial treatments, it is advisable to consult an allergy specialist for further evaluation. For those coping with asthma related to allergies, consulting a pulmonologist can be especially helpful. In the case of recurrent episodes of sinusitis or otitis media, however, it is advisable to consult an otolaryngologist.

Although asthma and allergies cannot be completely cured, they can be effectively managed.

At UPMC, we offer specialized services dedicated to identifying the causes of your ailments and initiating the most appropriate treatment for you. Learn more about our services and book a consultation with one of our experts to regain your respiratory well-being.