Lourdes Salvador's Column
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Indoor Allergen Factors Leading to Allergy and Asthma
by Lourdes Salvador
Researchers at Southampton General Hospital in the UK ask an interesting question in the title of a recent research article: Does exposure to indoor allergens contribute to the development of asthma and allergy?
Most people know that indoor allergens lead to a worsening of asthma and allergy. It begs to question, however, whether exposure to allergens actually causes asthma and allergy to develop in previously healthy individuals.
The most common indoor allergies are to things like dust mites, cockroaches, animal dander, and mold.
"In genetically susceptible children, exposure to these indoor allergens during the critical postnatal period may lead to sensitization in early childhood," says researcher Arshad, "Consistent evidence indicates that children sensitized to common indoor allergens are at several-fold higher risk of asthma and allergy."
Researchers say there are also other factors to consider though.
One of the challenges to identifying allergens as a cause for asthma and allergies is the fact that medical science views causation by various agents in terms of a dose response relationship. In other words, a certain dose of exposure will produce consistent results in terms of new onset asthma and allergy in everyone.
But family members living together with the same exposures often find that some family members will develop illness while others remain healthy. In other cases, one family member may develop asthma, while another develops a cough, and another develops allergies.
Research now shows that indoor allergens do cause asthma and allergy, but there are more factors than just dose alone.
The type of allergen is also a factor in the development of allergies and asthma. Certain substances are more likely to cause a previously healthy person to become ill than other substances.
The genetic susceptibility of each individual also plays a factor. Careful interpretation is required here. Exposure is not good for anyone and may be cumulative over time. No one escapes this. However, some people are more susceptible to illness at much lower exposures, which explains why family members take ill at varying rates and levels.
Arshad SH. Does exposure to indoor allergens contribute to the development of asthma and allergy? Curr Allergy Asthma Rep. 2010 Jan;10(1):49-55.
For more articles on this topic, see: MCSA News.
Copyrighted 2010 Lourdes Salvador & MCS America
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