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Pollution Exposure Significantly Lowers Allergy Symptoms

Update Date: Sep 30, 2014 11:27 PM EDT

Minimizing exposure to pollution can significantly improve asthma symptoms, according to a new study.

Besides taking medication and avoiding allergic triggers, many asthma sufferers think there isn't anything else to control their symptoms. However, new research reveals that people living with asthma should start paying attention to their air pollution exposure.

For instance, a recently published case study revealed that a woman's asthma symptoms improved after her doctor suggested that she bike on a different path to work. The doctor had told the woman that was commuting through a more polluted route than necessary. What's more, the woman had recently from a rural community to an urban environment.

"This experience shows that allergists can integrate their knowledge of the effects of air pollution into individual patient care, particularly asthma action plans," senior study author Chris Carlsten, MD, MPH, a pulmonologist from the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology, said in a news release. "Air pollution is known to be associated with worsening asthma symptoms, but sometimes changing routines with regard to exposure to air pollution can have a positive effect."

After analyzing the woman's bike route, researchers found that 70 percent of her commute was in close proximity to major highways.

However, her asthma symptoms showed significant improvement after she followed the commute path her doctor suggested. Researchers noted that the only tradeoff was that the alternate, less polluted route took 15 percent more of her time.

"Allergists are in a position to suggest ways asthma sufferers can reduce their exposure to air pollution," allergist Michael Foggs, president of ACAAI, said in a news release. "And it's important for people with asthma to discuss everything with their allergist that might be contributing to their worsening symptoms - whether they think it's a factor or not. Patients have the best information about themselves."

The findings were published in the journal the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

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