A year ago, I sent the author of solveeczema.org a letter telling the story of my astonishing asthma improvement after removing detergents from our household by employing the problem-solving methodology from her website. A few days ago she contacted me about that letter and my story, and published it on her blog yesterday.
Though my readers will be familiar with my asthma improvement story already — especially that wonderful snoeshowing trip where I was shocked to discover just how clear my lungs had become, AJ Lumsdaine’s introduction to my letter and the caveats she shares are well worth a read.
I want to highlight that, from my own experience, I whole-heartedly agree with AJ that detergents are not a causation of asthma. However, I feel that detergents affect the respiratory membrane in such a way that the allergens or irritants that actually cause the inflammation that leads to the wheezing, difficulty breathing, and constricted airways characteristic of asthma, can more easily cross into the lungs — and in larger quantities. I came to this conclusion by myself from trying to reconcile what medical researchers know about asthma with how my asthma acted both before and after removing detergents, and was then only mildly surprised to discover that AJ held this view all along. My experiences fit with AJ’s view that detergents lower the threshold for reacting to allergens in the environment. In other words, as she has already stated, they amplify a reaction that would already have been caused by something else in the environment.
So, the theory goes: in the presence of a pollutant, or in my case, pet dander, I will be likely to have an asthmatic reaction. But when my lungs have been regularly bathed in detergents riding on the dead skin cells, lint and dust I inhale, my respiratory membranes are more permeable to that pollution or pet dander and I become more likely to wheeze, or I’m wheezier, or I’m wheezier faster. When my lungs have a respite from detergents because I’ve cleared them from my home — even though I still inhale dead skin cells, lint and dust — the membrane over time has a chance to heal, so when I then inhale those same pollutants or pet dander, they don’t cross the membrane as easily and I am less likely to wheeze, or wheeze less, or it takes longer to become wheezy. That has indeed been my observation for my own asthma.
These past few days I’ve been sick with a cold. My thresholds are generally are reduced: after all, I’m battling a virus which is causing an immune response and inflammation. So, my asthma “expresses” more readily (sometimes, if I’m really sick, I have constant tightness in my chest and wheezing seemingly without normal triggers like exercising or exposure to pets). However, over these last many years, my asthma is still less severe when I’m sick than before detergent removal. And as I share in my letter, I still believe I am an asthma sufferer given the right exposures. So in times like these, I don’t gamble with my health — I take my asthma medications when I need to. It’s wonderful, though, to need a lower dosage and need them less frequently, and absolutely mind-blowing that I had at least two experiences where I felt absolutely no symptoms of asthma and had completely clear lungs despite being off the medications for months.
Have a read of AJ Lumsdaine’s blog post Sharing an Asthma Success Story from Canada!
Merry Christmas and best wishes for a peaceful, joyful 2016 to all!