The Common Source of Breathing Problems Found in Your Home

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Common Source of BreathingAmong the many hidden causes of illness in our lives, our own homes would be among the most distressing. Here’s a story about endotoxins in your home that are big-time triggers for asthma.

They lurk in your floorboards, bookshelves, humidifiers, couches, and most other surfaces in your house. The culprits are bacterial toxins called endotoxins, found in household dust. One telling study found that these endotoxins are directly related to symptoms of asthma, and the use of asthma medications. These irritating symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, chest pain, disturbed sleep, and the need to use bronchodilators to open up your airways.

The study found that the link between endotoxins and asthma was the strongest in the floors and in the beds. This isn’t surprising, as bedrooms are the place where we spend the most time (sleeping) and thus the most breathing. We know now that endotoxins cause lung damage to the greatest extent when they accumulate in your bedding.

RECOMMENDED: Staying Allergy-Free Indoors

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says endotoxins can cause profound inflammation of any tissue. What happens in the lungs is similar to allergies, but this is on a cellular level. Anyone can experience these problems, not only those predisposed to it. The most common indoor sources of endotoxins are dust (first and foremost), pets, pests, humidifiers, and air flowing in from outside.

More on that study to come. Researchers tested 830 U.S. families, and found levels of endotoxins higher than those found in Europe. In all homes, 11% had someone living with asthma inside. The relationship between asthma and endotoxin levels was most significant in dust found on the bedroom floor and bedding.

To cut down on endotoxins, there are several tips to follow. Vacuum several times a week. Clean surfaces with a damp cloth. Avoid shag carpets in favor of washable rugs, thin carpets, or hardwood. Consider special covers that enclose pillows and mattresses. Put cheesecloth on the bedroom heating vent to prevent circulating dust. Know that stuffed animals harbor dust, so eliminate them or wash them regularly. Close closet doors where clothes hang. Change filters for furnaces and air conditioners often.

Sources for Today’s Articles:
The Common Source of Breathing Problems Found in Your Home
Thorne, P. American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine December 2005; 172: 1,371-1,377
“Endotoxins; Information from the CDC,”