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Home allergen reduction plan

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The message from the asthma & allergy friendlyTM Program is their certified products are more suitable for those suffering from asthma and allergies. These products are recommended to be used in a ‘home allergen reduction plan'. But just what is a ‘home allergen reduction plan' and is it really effective?

Asthma and allergy symptoms may be avoided through a reduction in exposure to the trigger allergen. However, using just one set of avoidance techniques is often unsuccessful due to the multifaceted way in which we are exposed to allergen. For example, using bedding that reduces exposure to dust mites is a good step, bur it would be much more successful if the exposure to dust mites from the carpet was also addressed. Similarly if someone is allergic to pollen, regular controlled dusting would be recommended, but any beneficial effect of this would be enhanced by using an effective air cleaner. In other words, a home allergen reduction plan involves all steps necessary to reduce exposure to allergen in the home. This plan will change depending on the type of allergen to which the person is sensitive.

The use of a multifactorial approach to allergen control has been recommended by both the Report on the Third International Workshop on Indoor Allergens and Asthma (1997) as well as the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute's (NHLBI) National Asthma Education and Prevention Program (2007). The original NHLBI document is extremely comprehensive and contains a range of recommendations for prevention of asthma symptoms, including the use of a multifactorial approach to trigger avoidance.

In March, 2010 a study to assess the recommendations of the NHLBI was published in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology. A risk profile was drawn up for each participant based on factors such as their skin sensitivity, environmental exposure, psychosocial factors, difficulty accessing care, lack of an asthma plan, exposure to pets or smoking. The investigators found that this tailored intervention directed at risks for each family led to significant reductions in asthma symptoms, with 19.5% fewer symptom days among the intervention group and 13% fewer emergency department visits compared with the control group

Allergen or trigger avoidance is likely to have more of an effect on asthma symptoms rather than lung function. However, the advantages of reduced asthma symptoms may also allow asthmatics to concentrate on treatments and approaches that will improve lung function.