Asthma is a debilitating illness that reduces the quality of life for millions of people - and it's much more common than it used to be, especially among children. The causes of asthma, and why it's more common now, are not well understood, but a whole range of factors from genetics to diet and lifestyle and the environment we live in are probably involved.
People with allergic asthma suffer periodic attacks which can be triggered by variety of different things - from pollen to pets and house dust mites to mould. As well as using medication to control symptoms of asthma, they often find that controlling the triggers is a way of avoiding frequent attacks. So keeping the home and other surroundings clean, with low levels of dust, pollen and pet allergens, and eliminating any dampness and mould can be very helpful. Laundering can help remove house dust mites from sheets, pillowcases and duvets. Cleaning can similarly help control other types of allergy with similar triggers, such as hay fever.
It's sometimes said that asthma and allergies have risen because we've become 'too clean', and no longer encounter enough bugs to keep our immune systems properly tuned - the unfortunately named 'hygiene hypothesis'. While it's possible that some change since the days when we lived mainly lived on farms and around animals is a factor, there is no evidence that we need to get infected to get protected or that allergies are rising because we're overdoing hygiene.
Some people find that smells in the home, including from some cleaning products, can make asthma symptoms worse or help trigger an attack. But the evidence doesn't support the idea that the cleaning products you use at home can cause asthma, nor that they are a factor in the rise in allergies.
Did you know the facts behind this common myth?
Myth: Natural is better than chemical
Fact: Everything (including ourselves) is made of the same 90-odd chemical elements, so distinctions between "natural" and "chemical" products can be very misleading.
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