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Asthma

Can Home Environmental Factors Cause Asthma?

10/27/2009

Question:

My son, a previously very healthy, athletic teenager was finally diagnosed with asthma after a year of seeing neurologists, cardiologists, ENTs, allergists etc. to find out what was wrong. Pulmonologist finally found his lungs to be at 47%, now at 67% on inhalers after a year. Still far from great (he is now 20). We recently learned we had (and fixed) a slow gas leak in our home. I am wondering if this -- or perhaps other environmental factors such as radon or black mold could be factors in my son`s condition? I have read that black mold can definitely be an issue, but do not know how to find out if he can be tested for this specifically, or if there is a way to have our home tested. He did test positive for mold/dust/hickory tree allergy, but testing on our home for black mold was never suggested.

Answer:

There are many explanations for your son's decreased lung function.  First and foremost asthma is an insidious, occult disease as often there is a disconnect between clinical symptoms and objective changes in lung function.  There are many environmental determinants that can aggravate or cause asthma.  It is virtually impossible to retrospectively attribute his current status with any specific environmental factor.  Certainly indoor allergens and pollutants may be more relevant as most of us stay indoors over 20 hours per day.  I would focus on removing and/or remediating any indoor allergens/air pollutants and make sure he is on the proper medications and stays compliant with his medications which should prevent further loss of lung function over time.   

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Response by:

Jonathan   Bernstein, MD Jonathan Bernstein, MD
Associate Professor of Medicine
College of Medicine
University of Cincinnati