Allergies & Asthma: Fight Back with Air Filtering Products
Many providers understand the importance of fitting clients with the right asthma equipment from nebulizers to metered dose inhalers to stop coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath or rapid breathing, and chest tightness. But if allergies trigger these symptoms, equipment used solely for treatment might not be enough.
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Washington, D.C., more than 50 percent of the 20 million asthma sufferers have allergic asthma. This type of asthma, known as extrinsic, is triggered by inhaled allergens such as dust mites, pets, pollen and mold.
DID YOU KNOW? A recent article in Arthritis Today, a magazine published by the Arthritis Foundation, said that research suggests that having rheumatoid arthritis (RA) could make a person 50 percent less likely to have hay fever, and having both RA and seasonal allergies might make RA less severe. Allergy shots are not advised for people with an autoimmune disease, such as RA or lupus, because they may cause disease complications. It is vital for people with RA to minimize contact with pollen.
"Allergies and asthma I think of one of as the same," says Dennis Cook, respiratory division president, Medline Industries, Mundelein, Ill. "I always try to explain to people that when people think of allergies, they think of upper airway, like the nasal sinusitis, associated with allergies. Really, that's what you have in the lower airway with asthma. You have that same sort of swelling and constriction in blood flow, changes that take place in the lower airway, so you can imagine translating what you're feeling in your sinuses down in your lungs. And so, that's what you're treating, this inflammation and bronchial constriction. It's not uncommon; it's very common for asthma patients to have allergies."
While many asthma sufferers know to avoid the outdoors, especially in the morning when pollen levels are higher, many may be unaware that air inside the home could also put them at risk. Airborne allergens in the home could include pet or rodent dander, mold spores, pollen, and cockroach or dust mite droppings, according to "The Asthma Sourcebook, Second Edition."
Fortunately, products that help filter allergens from the air can help manage symptoms. According to "The Asthma Sourcebook, Second Edition, a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter works best. True HEPA filters trap 99.97 percent of all particles 0.3 microns in diameter or larger. Consumers should also avoid systems that release high concentrations of ozone molecules (not as byproduct, but as direct product) into the air because they can cause detrimental effects on the environment.
Providers should remind consumers that while some air filters may help reduce secondhand smoke, no system can effectively eliminate secondhand smoke.
Matt Conlon, director of sales and marketing, Respiratory Drug Delivery business, Respironics, Murrysville, Pa., says that providers can fill a niche for consumers with allergic asthma by providing anciallary products to help them control symptoms. "Environmental control products is one area that I think there's a big opportunity with," he says. "It's not government reimbursement driven, but there's a tremendous need in the marketplace for patients to get access to environmental control products, things like bed linens that reduce dust mites or dust mite control products, air purification systems, etc. Much of this may be out of pocket.
"Currently, providers, for the most part, they're focused on the nebulizers and the respiratory medications," says Conlon. "We know that that's kind of a challenging environment. So, I think they can add to their mix of products and services in order to take advantage of this tremendous growth in the marketplace of asthma."
Interested in offering air filtration systems t your store? Check out the following products:
Mobile air purification system features an ionization chamber, a HEPA-type filter and an air supply discharge nozzle
BreatheCLEAN's Total Home Air Purifier
Attaches to existing ductwork to purify the air throughout a home
Humidex Atlantic's Humidex
Creates a natural ventilation process
Respironics' Peaceful Breeze Air Purification System
Choice of HEPA or ionic purification setting, or combination of both, to reduce indoor air pollution
The Sharper Image's AirSanitizer
Motorized three-speed fan draws in contaminated air at a rate of more than 50 cubic feet per minute
Steril-Aire's Remedial In-Room Decontamination System
Equipped with multi-output UVC technology to decontaminate surfaces infested with mold, viruses and bacteria
For more on the asthma market, read "Waiting to Exhale: Wheezing Profit Margins Offset by Growing Market, New Trends in Technology for Asthma" in the September issue of Home Health Products.
This article originally appeared in the July 2006 issue of HME Business.