Welcome All! I'm a dreamer, I hope you are too! A Posse ad Esse, or From possibility to reality, is a general state of mind. I hope you'll share your possibilities with me as I will with you. Namaste~

August 15, 2007

Moving toward a healthier life

We have recently learned that our oldest son has allergies todust, dander, and mold. He also has what is known as asthmatic croup; in essence, he has asthma that manifests itself as a croupy cough and lasts sometimes for weeks at a time. It has gotten progressively worse over the last couple of years to where he has had to use inhalers regularly and at times steroids. We were finally recommended to go to an allergist to find out if he had any potential allergies that may be a trigger for his asthma. Low and behold, he does. Of course the doctor’s first suggestion was to get C~ on daily doses of prescription meds like Zyrtec or Allegra. My wife and I don’t have a problem with prescription medicines per se; they allow a great number of people to live much more satisfying lives than they would be able to without them. However, our belief has always been that we should try to do our best through healthy choices and environmental changes to try and remedy the problems first, and then move to medicines as a final alternative. It is a common belief among many health experts that because of our quickness to use and sometimes abuse both prescription and over the counter medicines has caused many common ailments such as colds and flu viruses to mutate into strains that are not affected by current medications. I also believe in allowing our bodies to have time to learn to adapt to and deal with it’s ailments on its own.

(DISCLAIMER: I would by no means ever deny anyone in my family, or anyone else for that matter, medicines that are required for their immediate care or well being. I do not advocate nor do I promote living life free from pharmaceuticals as the expense of ones health. C~’s asthma is not critical right now, but could progress to that point if not dealt with.)

His asthma was one of the main reasons that my wife and I began to research natural cleaners and more organic lifestyle options to begin with; he has no one on either side of his family with asthma, and we had learned that a potential cause for it may be the daily exposure to chemicals in cleaners, detergents and household furnishings that we all endure. It is a great concern of ours that his dependance on medications has been growing, and for all of the simpler changes that we have made previously it still seems to be progressing. When we learned about potential causes, or at least things that may be aggrivating it, we wanted to do what we we able to to create a healthier environment. Since we have been using organic cleaners he has not had a major “episode”, however his worst time of the year has always been in the fall – spring. (The times when you spend the most time indoors.)
The other main suggestion that our allergist had for us to try to control it, is to remove as much of the carpeting in our house as possible; particularly in the common areas. Since our position is that we want to try to control his asthma environmentally as much as possible before putting him on drugs we are actively pursuing this. I have done some reading on the VOC’s contained in your typical carpet and padding and we were going to try to take this step in the future anyway, removing the carpet that is, this just changed the timeline. So now we will spend the majority of September ripping out approx 750 sq ft of carpet and padding and replacing it with red oak flooring. I know this is not the most environmentally sustainable flooring option that we could have chosen, and were it not for the fact that we already have large portions of our home done in this material we probably would have chosen another, but it is a flooring that will not need to be replaced for the life of the home, and in such will greatly reduce both our contribution to the landfill, as well as future owners of the home, not to mention providing a much healthier place to live. We’re planning a trip to the green building center in Salt Lake City this weekend to look in to some finishing options that will not include us having to live with all the nasty fumes from Polyurethane or the like. I am leaning towards a penetrating sealant based on natural oils and waxes rather than a surface sealant, but need to educate myself further on durability issues.
Hopefully in by thanksgiving we should have a much healthier living environment for our family and can minimize our need to have our kids on prescription medications. Do any of you or your family members have to deal with this type of respiratory problems? Any advice or things I could take into consideration would be great.


Anonymous said...

My husband had asthma/allergies and my children have allergies as well. You did a good thing removing carpet, we will be doing the rest of our house in wood flooring as well as soon as my son is a little older and less accident prone. I have heard that a lot of people have success with steam cleaners as a way to avoid chemicals, but I haven't tried that yet. One of the most important things to look at is the bedroom. If the mattress your son sleeps on is older, you may want to replace it. Also keep the bedding clean (some even advise vacuuming the bed) and no curtains, stuffed animals etc... I buy my bedding from Gaiam. I'm able to get natural/organic and allergy friendly blankets, sheets and comforters there. Good Luck!

KMH said...

My son, age 18, has fought asthma his whole life. At one point he was taking 8 different medications and spending 3 days a week at the doctor's office.

Some things we did that really helped were:
1. switched to cotton, linen and wool clothing, curtains, linens.
2. removed pressboard wood, mini-blinds and carpets.
3. Used low VOC paint and wood floor sealer.
3. use natural cleaners (vinegar and baking soda) for everything.
4. Son sleeps on a futon that can be vacuumed, steam cleaned, and put in the sunshine to kill problems!
5. We wash his curtains and bedding weekly. Keep the room dusted and the floor clean. The fewer things in his room the easier it is.

The good news is that after all these changes he doesn't have an attack at home very often. (Unless he has eaten a food trigger.) The hardest part is to watch him struggle at church due to hairspray and perfume! I can't change others though.


Rosa said...

Let us know what non-polyurethane options you find, will you? Our entire house has hardwood floors and we will need to refinish them in the next few years and I really hate polyurethane. Plus it causes lung damage.

EPM said...

It is so encouraging to see a family working hard to remove the potential triggers for their child instead of just adding on the medications! The "green" cleaners are a great way to go - I clean almost my entire home with vinegar and water with a tad of orange concentrate cleaner added.

We use Shaklee unscented laundry products - it is amazing now that we've had this switch for about 8 years how strong I can smell the Tide and fabric softeners when taking a walk around our block!

Also be aware of things like the Glade plug-ins, those scented burning candles - all are petroleum based and will irritate asthma.

Dairy products can also be a major irritant - milk really is for cows and if your child is heavy into milk you might look for alternatives.

I strongly encourage you to check out www.feingold.org - we have followed this diet for over 4 years and while we did it mainly for good health benefits and to relieve some rashes - it would help for asthma too. The diet was planned by an allergist.

Best of luck on this journey.

EPM said...

Also, if you want to look at supplements - we've used this brand of supplements in other areas with good success:


Marianna said...

I'm sorry to hear that your family is dealing with asthma. I applaud you for seeking solutions beyond the meds.

I'm anxious to hear about the alternative products you find for sealing your floors.

My oldest has allergies and one thing we do to help relieve some of the symptoms for him is to use a saline mist at bedtime.

P~ said...

It seems there are so many people out there suffering from this ailment. I have say it really wouldn't surprise me if there was some connection between the number of people getting respiratory diseases and all of the chemicals we are inundated with.

Thanks to all of you so much for all of your input and well wishes. We are going to the Green building Center tomorrow and I will post this weekend about my findings.