Do Air Purifiers Help Asthma?

Contents

What is asthma?

Asthma is a chronic condition in which a person’s respiratory airways become inflamed.1 This inflammation occurs as a result of triggers including allergies, working out, or viruses, and results in frequent bouts of breathlessness and wheezing.1 Despite the general belief that asthma specifically attacks the lungs, new evidence suggests that asthma may impact all of the respiratory tracts. This is why it is necessary to be informed on whether a method such as air purifiers will help to relieve symptoms.1

Causes

As mentioned previously, asthma can either be due to allergic or non-allergic stimuli, which are changes in a person’s environment. 1 Allergic triggers can range from animal dander (dead skin cells) to dust mites, pollen or mould.1,2  Non-allergic triggers can consist of being exposed to smoke from tobacco, cool air, physical activity, or infections from viruses.1 These changes in a person’s environment can lead to a series of events that result in inflammation. The cells released in your body to control the inflammation can further pass on inflammation.1

Symptoms 

Classic symptoms of the condition can include wheezing, feeling breathless and having a tight sensation in the chest, and coughing.1 These symptoms can be classified into qualities of asthma depending on the time they happen.1 If the asthma symptoms are continuous and follow a pattern, or a person notices that their symptoms seem to take place or worsen early evening or late at night, then these people can be assessed for a familial history of seasonal allergies.1,3

Diagnosis

Asthma can be diagnosed by rigorously looking at a person’s medical history, physical examinations, and inspecting how well lungs function in children under 6 years of age to assess how airflow may be limited during exhalation.1 Searching for identifiers of airway inflammation can aid in diagnosing asthma, especially when lung function appears normal despite asthma symptoms.1

Treatment

The main aim of asthma treatment is to upkeep control of the disease to prevent asthma from becoming worse.1 In the majority of patients with asthma, treatment can either simply be refraining from going near asthma triggers or being given medication.1 Medication that is normally used to treat asthma can either be controllers or relievers.1 Controllers are taken on a regular basis for a long period of time and provide control with an anti-inflammatory impact, whereas relievers are taken only when they are needed for rapid relief from asthma symptoms. 1 

What are air purifiers?

Air purifiers are a filter for indoor enclosed areas. They take in air from the room, get rid of any pollutants, and then release air that is not polluted in order to improve air quality.4 Air purifiers work as a secondary mechanism to organic ventilation in the room from open windows, for example.4 According to the strength of the air purifier, it can be applied to various volumes of air that are linked to the size of the room.4

Types of air purifiers

  • Ultraviolet air purifiers work by using UV light to extract bacteria and viruses that may be dangerous from homes.The ultraviolet light demolishes these viruses and bacteria by destroying the bonds in their DNA.5
  • HEPA air purifiers take away nearly 100% of every particle that is larger than a certain size, which means that these purifiers are very efficient in extracting particles such as mould, dander and pollen.The Rabbit Air filter is a type of HEPA filter that includes an extra feature of electrostatic attraction, which means that its performance is even more efficient in picking up minute particles. The Rabbit Air MinusA2 is even more advanced in that it can be personalised to suit each customer’s needs.
  • Activated carbon air purifiers efficiently remove smoke, unpleasant smells, and other fumes and gasses away from indoor air.The majority of these types of purifiers have HEPA filters installed that also take away air particles.5

Air purifiers and asthma

How effective are air purifiers for asthma?

A study assessing the impact of indoor air purifiers on 30 children who have asthma discovered that the air purifiers decreased the need for patients to take medication because the richness of the microbiome (microorganisms of a specific environment) in their urine had been decreased. 8 This meant that air purifiers were proved to be effective in improving the condition of children with asthma, as the purifiers are able to remove dust and other particles from the air.8 Another study identified that the amount of fungi in the air goes down when an air purifier fan is working.8

How to choose an ideal air purifier for asthma

An ideal air purifier should be chosen on the basis of a person’s asthma triggers and which air purifiers can rectify the present triggers.9 If a person’s asthma flares up in their bedroom due to dust mites, mould, or other various microorganisms, then the best type of air purifier could be an Airfree version which does not simply capture the particles as a HEPA filter does, it destroys the particles so the mould cannot return.

What is the best place to use air purifiers?

It is recommended to firstly select a purifier for a bedroom, as this is a smaller space and patients with asthma can test how they fare with the new addition.9  If an air purifier is agreeable with a person’s asthma, then they can extend and branch out to having air purifiers in the rest of the house.

Comparison of air purifiers, air filters and humidifiers

An air purifier actually purifies the air and deactivates any present contaminants, and can include air filters as a component to trap the pollutants.10 Conversely, air filters simply remove dust and other harmful particles from the air.11 A humidifier, however, doesn’t purify the air but adds water to the atmosphere by converting water into steam. This is accomplished by vibrating these droplets of water upwards. Ultrasonic humidifiers may also have the ability to produce tiny mineral particles in the air, and evidence supports these particles perhaps having a positive effect on lung tissue.10

Other ways to help reduce asthma

Keeping a journal to track when you may come into contact with potential asthma triggers can help pinpoint which substances and environments you need to avoid.12 Noting down when and where your asthma worsens can help you when talking through the condition with a doctor, who can then also prescribe the most suitable medication.12

In terms of medication, since asthma patients take multiple types, it is crucial to be aware of what each type of medication does and how it helps, to ensure that the correct medication is being taken.12 Since some patients can differentiate the starting symptoms of an asthma attack, a small device known as a peak flow metre can help to discern when a patient’s airways are beginning to narrow, and this device will let the person know what medication needs to be taken and when urgent care needs to be sought.12

Self-care for asthma

Drinking water provides an excellent benefit for asthma sufferers.13 Since having a sufficient amount of water intake decreases the thickness of your mucus, patients can breathe better.13 The diet of asthma patients should also include lesser amounts of sugar and fats, as these enhance mucous secretion and thicken it.13 With any air filters that asthma patients use it is important to be conscientious in cleaning the air filters on a regular basis, as the dust and other harmful particles that get trapped in the filters can subsequently be redistributed around the indoor area.13 Sprays and other cleaning products with fragrances should be avoided, as these can cause several respiratory issues.13 Patients with a prescribed inhaler should also definitely have it accessible to them at all times.13

Summary

Ultimately, even though air purifiers have proven to be beneficial for asthma sufferers, the disease should be managed by avoiding triggers when possible, having the appropriate medication available, and using air purifiers where accessible. Although there may seem like there are a lot of restrictions when it comes to asthma patients carrying out their daily activities, it is important to remember not to be too downcast. If it is necessary to come into contact with particular triggers then medical advice should always be available to patients. 

References 

  1. Quirt J, Hildebrand KJ, Mazza J, Noya F, Kim H. Asthma. Allergy Asthma Clin Immunol. National Library of Medicine 2018 Sep; Cited Jun-Jul 2022  12;14(Suppl 2):50. Available from: doi: 10.1186/s13223-018-0279-
  2. American Lung Association. Pet Dander [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.lung.org/clean-air/at-home/indoor-air-pollutants/pet-dander
  3. NHS. Allergic rhinitis [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/allergic-rhinitis/
  4. Nateosante. What is an air purifier? Actions end effects on health and IAQ [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.nateosante.com/en/nateosante/featured-articles/what-is-an-air-purifier/
  5. Rick Welter. Air Conditioning and Furnace Blog. The Pros and Cons of the 7 Different Types of Air Purifiers [Internet]. Aug 2018; Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://welterheating.com/5-types-air-purifiers/
  6. Rabbit Air. Advanced HEPA Filtration Technology [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.rabbitair.com/pages/biogs-hepa-filtration
  7. Rabbit Air. The MinusA2 [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from:https://www.rabbitair.com/pages/minusa2-air-purifier
  8. Lee GH, Kim JH, Kim S, Lee S, Lim DH. Effects of Indoor Air Purifiers on Children with Asthma. Yonsei Med J. 2020; Cited Jul 2022. 61(4):310-316. Available from: doi: 10.3349/ymj.2020.61.4.310.
  9. Breathing Space. How to Choose an Air Purifier for Asthma Relief [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.breathingspace.co.uk/how-to-choose-an-air-purifier-for-asthma-relief-i95
  10.  Molekule. Air purifier vs Humidifier: Which one do you need? [Internet]. Mar 2019; Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://molekule.science/air-purifier-vs-humidifier-which-one-do-you-need/
  11.  IQS directory. Air Filters [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.iqsdirectory.com/articles/air-filter.html
  12. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Asthma Prevention [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.aafa.org/asthma-prevention/
  13.  Peconic Bat Medical Center. 10 Self-Care Tips for Asthma Patients [Internet]. Cited Jul 2022. Available from: https://www.pbmchealth.org/news-events/blog/10-self-care-tips-asthma-patients
  14. 4. Asthma [Internet]. Who.int. 2022 [cited 27 July 2022]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/asthma

Author: Klarity Team

This article has been written by one of our medical experts.

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