AchooAllergy.com Blog

Asthma


Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MDWe are constantly trying to bring you the most up-to-date and relevant information available. To help in doing so, we've begunn partnering with board certified doctors to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about allergies and asthma.

With our first set of questions, I'd like to introduce Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MD.

Travel Allergy Tips?

How can I keep my allergies in check when traveling to countries where I might be exposed to trees/plants that I've never encountered before?

- submitted by TravelBug

Traveling out of the country or even other parts of our country can be challenging for people who suffer from environmental allergies. There is no easy way to predict how a foreign allergen will impact the allergic individual. Factors that can impact include previous exposure, the amount, and duration of exposure. Often allergy sufferers who have not have had previous exposure will be less affected by a new environment.

The keys to travel success are to ensure that your baseline allergic condition is being maximally treated and controlled prior to your travels and to have a treatment plan going forward. Being prepared to travel means knowing the predominant allergen that you will be exposed to {endemic pollens, animal dander, mold, etc.} and having backup measures to initiate if symptoms escalate. This includes avoidance measures (as best as possible) and additional medications such as antihistamines and/or decongestants for symptomatic control if needed. In extreme cases traveling with a low dose oral steroid and/or a rescue inhaler may be warranted based on the person's allergic history.

Finally, Individualizing a treatment plan with your Allergist or PCP is always a good idea before traveling. Remember the phrase "Fail to prepare...prepare to fail"

Keeping Your Child Active with Asthma?

Any advice on how to keep my asthmatic son active but safe during the spring and summer?

- submitted by Marietta, OH Mom

Every asthmatic is different but typically the summer and particularly the spring can be challenging. Our goal is always shooting for maximum control where the asthmatic patient essentially normalizes and can do anything a non-asthmatic can do. Typically this Playing & Exercise with Asthmacan be obtained to some degree with preventative allergy and asthma treatment.

If your child does have pollen sensitivity in the spring and summer it's best to do most activity outside in the early morning or late afternoon when pollen counts are down and temperatures are cooler. Be aware of the air quality and limit outside activities during poor air quality days. If your child struggles with allergy and asthma despite these measures, a reassessment of their maintenance allergy and asthma treatment is indicated and consideration for allergen desensitization "shots" should be discussed with your local allergist.

Do you have questions you would like answered? Submit them to us via the FAQ form on every product page, email them using blog@achooallergy.com, send them to us via our live chat or send us something via snail mail. The most relevant and intriguing we'll select to be answered.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by Kevvyg on Friday, February 28, 2014
Challenges of Running with AsthmaI guess I would call myself a seasonal runner. During the winter, if I can’t get out to a trail or parkway, then I usually can find no reason for me to run on slick sidewalks surrounded by muddy snow. But now, in between the crazy snow/ice days we’ve been having here in Atlanta, I’ve been able to get out and enjoy a nice run in the sunshine.

On a more recent run, it occurred to me that there must be runners with asthma. But how do they manage it? What happens if they have an asthma attack? Could they run marathons and races or hit the trail for long distance runs?

Most of us are familiar with the common causes of asthma attacks, tobacco smoke, air pollution, dust mites, mold, cockroach allergens, or pets. However, exercise-induced asthma is triggered by physical exertion and is a common cause that might seem counterintuitive to some, particularly since severe asthma can often limit physical activity. The severity of exercise-induced asthma attacks can be affected by many factors including overall health, medication taken (or not taken), how long you are exercising, and the environment (temperature, pollution, etc.).

To better understand how asthma affects an active person’s lifestyle, I spoke to Ali McDonald, co-owner of AchooAllergy.com, and Christina Kenney a current student at Kent State University and past cross country and track runner. Both are currently active runners with asthma.

Ali M.Ali McDonald - Asthma  & Running

How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since I was five. I’ve always loved running!

Do you run 5Ks, marathons, races?
No, I run for exercise- 3-5 miles, a few days a week.

What triggers your asthma attacks?
My asthma attacks are triggered by pollen, but mostly cold weather induced.

What happens when you start to have an asthma attack?
I can’t get a breath when it does happen. You can’t get a full breath in, it’s shortened… like when you exercise really hard, and you try to slow your heart beat down to catch your breath, but you can’t. That’s how I would explain it to people who don’t have asthma.

So do you just slow down, or try to relax yourself? How do you take care of it?
I use my inhaler. It’s the only way, basically.

What about when you’re not running? What do you do if, let’s say, you have an attack while walking around in the park?
Since I have exercise-induced asthma, I don’t generally have asthma attacks when I’m not running. But if I do feel a shortness of breath, or anything like that, I take my time, slow down and focus on slowing down my heart rate.

What’s the perfect run for you?-Perfect weather, inclines?
When the temperature gets below 32° C it becomes difficult to run, so between 50° and 60° is great, and without seasonal allergens. Inclines don’t affect me so much as temperature.

What sports did you do when you were younger?
I was a gymnast and I did cheerleading. I never had asthma attacks in gymnastics, and in cheerleading there were enough breaks in between that it really didn’t affect my asthma.

Do you have any advice for those with asthma who may want to start running?
Carry your inhaler. It can be scary to have it in your car a few miles away, while you’re having an attack. And avoid exercising in situations where you’ll be affected by triggers like ragweed and pollen.

Christina K.Christina K. - Asthma & Running

How long have you been running?
I’ve been running since freshman year of high school, so about 6 years ago.

Did you start running for sports?
I started with track then cross country.

Have you always had asthma?
Yeah, it was much more severe when I was little. I had to take treatments three times a day, breathing treatments with a nebulizer from the time I was a baby until I was old enough and switched over to a once-a-day preventative pill.

When did you decide to start running?
As I got older it wasn’t as severe, then one day in gym we had to run a mile. Everyone hated it, but I wanted to push myself so I ran as hard as I could and beat everyone. The gym coach said I should try out for track after that. She said that there were plenty of runners with asthma that could run.

What happens when you start to an asthma attack while running? How do you feel, what are the symptoms and how do you take care of it?
I slow down a lot, sometimes walk, with my hands on my head. It was really hard at first when I started running- I started as the slowest one. When the weather is cold, it stings a lot and burns. It’s a harsh feeling. In warmer weather, I can’t breathe and I have a heavy weight on my chest. When it is cold out, I take my inhaler before my run to try to prevent it, but if I don’t take it before I have to use it during and after my run.

Describe the perfect run for you- the weather, incline, no incline, etc.
I’d say like… 60°, 70° degree weather.

What advice do you have for running with asthma?
Definitely don’t get discouraged just because of asthma. I went from the slowest distance runner in freshman year to one of the fastest on varsity. Get used to it, and carry an inhaler. It’ll be hard at first, but as you go running gets easier. It’ll even improve your asthma.

Why do you think that?
Because it helps you out, makes your lungs get stronger. Running gets easier, you just have to get used to it.

Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d also tell people wanting to distance run, with asthma, to be diligent. Try not to take a really long hiatus from running if they enjoy what they get out of it. It takes a good amount of time and perseverance to get back in shape as an asthmatic. Not only are you getting your muscles back in shape but you're also building your lung capacity.

Before interviewing Ali and Christina, I thought asthma was just a general respiratory ailment. But it was a nice surprise to see a contrast in exercise induced asthma and regular asthma. I learned that cold weather is not a good running partner while inhalers are, and as Theodore Roosevelt promoted, running could actually be beneficial for asthma. Thank you ladies!

Author: R. Power

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, February 26, 2014
Yesterday, a US Food and Drug Administration advisory panel voted not to recommend Primatene HFA for over-the-counter sale. This is the latest in the attempt to bring a bronchodilator back to the over-the-counter market. There were two additional votes on the drug, and the mixed results could be reason for hope in seeing a new bronchodilator on the market in the future.

Primatene Mist - OTC BronchodilatorMany of you may recall seeing Primatene Mist on drugstore and market shelves when you were younger. For me, it was a common occurrence as my cousin, who suffers from severe asthma, would often have this inhaler with him. After spending time in the backyard with my cousins and brothers playing football, he would pull out his inhaler, flip the top and use it if his asthma flared up.

In 2011 Primatene Mist was phased out and removed from store shelves. These pocket-sized inhalers used chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) to propel the epinephrine out and into the lungs of the asthma sufferer. As part of an overall move away from CFC-based propellants, the axe finally fell on Primatene Mist in December of that year. Since then, the manufacturer, Armstrong Pharmaceuticals, has been attempting to gain OTC status for a replacement inhaler, the short-acting beta2-agonist (SABA) bronchodilator, Primatene HFA. Currently, the only forms of this type of drug available are prescribed. If you have asthma, you might be familiar with their names, albuterol and levalbuterol. However, there is some need for an OTC alternative, particularly in case of emergencies or when people run out of their prescription at inopportune times.

In addition to ultimately voting no to OTC use, the 25 member advisory panel also voted on the efficacy and safety of the new inhaler. While there is still another ongoing clinical trial, the panel discussed the results of two other clinical trials that showed significant results. On a vote over the efficacy, 14 yes votes won out.

Lastly, the panel discussed and voted on the safety of the proposed drug. Like most drugs, Primatene HFA did show some side effects, though even with the most severe side effect being tremors, all cases were mild. Other side effects were infrequent. A larger safety issue was likely found in the correct use of the inhaler. While the new inhaler uses an ozone-friendly propellant, the new formula is a suspension that can settle. Consequently, the inhaler must be primed four times before the first use and twice after two weeks of nonuse. It must also be washed and dried each day, and both of these present significant hurdles when it comes to ease-of-use and proper use. With regard to labeling, some members felt that patients may be led to believe that it is for daily use when only actually intended for intermittent use. All of these things resulted in 17 panel members voting no, in terms of safety.

The end result, for now, is that the new Primatene HFA will not be in pharmacy and store shelves any time soon, but the drug does show promise. It does work, and there is a need for it. Undoubtedly, Armstrong will revisit the inhaler and attempt to address issues of misuse or mishandling.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, January 23, 2014
Tax Deductible Home Renovations Are Nothing to Sneeze At!As if we all needed a reminder, tax time is just around the corner! Time to dig up all those receipts and schedule an appointment with your local CPA or tax preparer. Even through the interwebs, I can tell you're just as excited about this as I am!

On a serious note, this time of year is perfect for looking at how making a change around your house just might something that can help you with your taxes. If you have allergies, asthma or more severe respiratory disease, a doctor's prescription might be just what you needed to lower your bill with Uncle Sam. How you ask? Check out this article that I put together after speaking with a CPA in the local Atlanta area and see how your home renovation for allergies or asthma might be tax deductible.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 30, 2013
WellaPets - Kids Games About AsthmaAre you the parent of a child with asthma? Would you be interested in trying a new app/game that is not only entertaining for your child but also teaches them about asthma triggers, treatment and how to better manage asthma? In development by LifeGuard Games, there is a fun, new app that needs your input - WellaPets.

You start by creating a virtual pet, and in this case, a tiny fire-breathing dragon. But here's the catch. Your little dragon has asthma and can't breathe fire like the other dragons, at least, not initially. The game takes you through a series of challenges and a variety of mini-games that teach your child not only some tips for controlling your pet's asthma, like through the use of an inhaler, but also points out triggers throughout the home that can aggravate your dragon's asthma. So with the virtual pet, your child can learn, explore, and interact, all while managing a pet with the player's chronic condition - asthma.

Screen Shot of WellaPetsThough game is fun and interactive, the educational aspects are blended in and help reinforce general knowledge about asthma but also focus on themes like self-efficacy (taking control of and managing your condition) and communication with parents.

There is science behind this, and research about similar games for children and young adults coping with diabetes and even cancer have shown positive results.

So if you have a young child dealing with asthma and would like to help by trying the game and giving some feedback, there's just three easy steps.
  1. Sign up here
  2. After you've signed up, use the mobile device that you want to play on (ie. iPad) and visit TestFlight to complete the process
  3. Play the game for two weeks and fill out the survey when you're finished!
This week you can complete steps 1 and 2. The game and survey questions will be sent out very soon (first week in January).

For more information about WellaPets.

Author: KevvyG

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, December 19, 2013
Owning a dog changes a lot of things for people, but one thing you might not think about is how it changes the dust inside your home. It's true, the composition of the dust in dog owner's home is actually different than that of the dust found in a pet-free home, and researchers believe that exposure to this "dog dust" may actually reduce the development of allergies and asthma in children. Could it be that dogs are proving themselves to be "man's best friend" all over again? And if so, how?

Over the last year or two, researchers have paid closer attention to the microbes living on and in us, and how these things can dramatically affect our lives, particularly when it comes to immune responses. Published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, new research suggests an interesting link between exposure to dog-associated house dust and the subsequent development of allergic diseases like asthma and allergies, and interestingly enough, at the middle of this research is a very specific type of gut bacteria, Lactobacillus johnsonii.

Lactobacillus johnsonii - Key to Asthma and Allergies?During the our first few years of life, we begin to develop a very diverse microbiome of bacteria (think of a microbiome as a community of bacteria living inside your gastrointestinal system), and from immune responses to metabolism, these tiny inhabitants are proving to be critical in the development of allergic disease. In this instance, researchers tested dog-associated dust exposure as well as simple supplementation of Lactobacillus johnsonii into the gut.

When exposed to the "dog dust", the pre-adult mice showed less response to an airway allergen challenge, fewer activated T cells and reduced Th2 cytokine expression, all key indicators of allergic response. For another set of mice who weren't exposed to the dust, but instead had the numbers of Lactobacillus johnsonii in their gastrointestinal system supplemented orally (think - they gave the mice a Lactobacillus johnsonii probiotic), similar but not as strong results appeared. This second set of mice showed that while increased number of the Lactobacillus johnsonii bacteria in the gut did correlate with fewer allergic reactions and less allergic response, this correlation was much stronger in the mice who were exposed to dog-associated house dust. This seems to show that while that specific microorganism is helpful, a greater diversity in the microbiome also plays a role in immune system development and protection against allergic disease.

The results are just another step in process of unraveling allergic disease, but is a truly critical one for two reasons. First, researchers were able to identify a very specific microorganism that shows a strong link to preventing the development of allergic disease. Secondly, the "dog dust" shows that not only did it lead to increased level of this beneficial microorganism but also helped promote a more diverse array of microbes living in the intestinal system, and that as other research has suggested, this variety is also import in preventing the development of allergic disease.

Undoubtedly, more attention and research will continue, and maybe soon, the link between allergic disease and the tiny microbes around us can become clear enough to begin devising ways to actually reduce the chances of children developing asthma and allergies in the first place! Wouldn't that be something?br>
To read the full PDF of the research or for more condensed abstract.

On a side note, I discovered, Nestle (the food company, which consequently has a research facility in Switzerland) is responsible for the genetic sequencing of this bacterium, Lactobacillus johnsonii and uses it in some of its probiotic products.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 16, 2013
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is one of the most common respiratory disorders affecting people today. It is a generalized term that many people recall wasn't often spoken ten to fifteen years ago. In the past, you were more likely to hear emphysema or chronic bronchitis, but COPD has become a catch-all for both of these. What is COPD, how does it relate to allergic disease, and can an air purifier actually help?

COPD Lung Function Diagram - NiHMost basically, COPD is two-sided coin of reduced lung function that is most often typified by chronic inflammation of the airways (chronic bronchitis) which causes overproduction of mucus and subsequent blockage of the airways. The other side of this is the destruction of the alveoli the lungs, emphysema. If you remember your high school biology, alveoli are the tiny little balloons or air sacs where the actual gas exchange (swapping of oxygen and carbon dioxide) takes place. For people coping with COPD, these two things often go hand in hand.

In either condition, the result is "chronic obstruction" which reduces lung capacity. Inflammation and mucus blocks the airways or the alveoli are damaged and cannot function properly, making it increasingly difficult to breathe.

The difficulty in breathing may sound familiar to many of you. If you have asthma or even certain allergies, this is an all too familiar symptom. Another similarity, though, is the root cause. Both asthma and allergies appear to be a mix of genetic and environmental factors where genes predispose you to these conditions, and environmental factors may ultimately trigger them, or at the least, exacerbate them. COPD is most often caused by smoking, but research shows that long term exposure to air pollutants, chemicals and even dust can contribute to this disease.

Unlike asthma or allergies though, COPD is progressive and isn't something that can be cured or outgrown. Unfortunately the best case scenario for people dealing with COPD is to manage and slow the disease as much was possible. This is where an air purifier may help.

In addition to medication, there are a few things that your doctor may prescribe to help people coping with COPD. In more severe cases, oxygen is a route that is often taken. In less advanced stages of the disease, an oxygen concentrator may also be used. In either case these are things are use primarily at night, while you sleep. They increase the percentage of oxygen that is in the air you breathe. Typically oxygen only makes up a small amount of the actual air entering your lungs, but with higher concentrations of oxygen, it becomes easier for people with COPD to breathe. Many times when you first begin using oxygen or a concentrator, you might notice a big difference in how you feel during the day. Getting sufficient oxygen while you sleep is crucial for your health, and many will feel more energetic, less lethargic and better overall when they begin use of oxygen or a concentrator.

Second, doctors often advise you to limit your exposure to pollutants in the air that can aggravate COPD. From dust and pollen to paint fumes and chemical vapors, a wide variety of particulate can inflame airways and worsen breathing conditions. HEPA air purifiers help to reduce these things by filtering out these pollutants, both particulate and chemical vapors. Keeping your house clean and reducing dust are also basic but helpful measures that can help anyone coping with COPD.

COPD is something that personally affects me. My father was diagnosed with COPD less than a year ago. For years he smoked AND struggled with asthma. To make matters worse, he spent a great deal of time working on our family farm, in the dusty hayfields or barn. And on top of all of that, he has worked for nearly two decades at a place where clay dust and silica sand are used prolifically.

The Honeywell 50150 HEPA Air PurifierA few years back, I got an inexpensive Honeywell air purifier that a customer had returned. My mother placed it in the living room, and ever since dad often spends nights sleeping beside it on the couch. (And no, it's not because he doesn't want to share a bed with my mother. I would think six kids is enough evidence contrary to that! She often works nights, so many times he'll sleep on the couch.) One thing that my dad has told me, is that he generally tends to feel better when he sleeps on the couch. Not only does the Honeywell produce white noise to help him sleep but more importantly, it helps to reduce dust and particulate in the air in the living room.

By no means do I think a HEPA air purifier is a cure, but for many people, they can help with COPD. And truthfully, many of the products we make and offer can help in that regard. The focus of our products is to better control the environment around you. Things like air purifiers and allergy bedding do just that, by filtering our pollutants or keeping them out of the air you breathe in the first place.

For more information on COPD, consult your local physician or you can find a variety of solid information at the Center for Disease Control or National Institute of Health's websites.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, November 21, 2013
Link Between Asthma and Fertility?There are a variety of connections between allergic disease. Asthma linked allergies, eczema linked to asthma, etc. but one interesting relationship that has not been studied too much is the link between asthma and infertility. It has long been noted that women who suffer from asthma often have a more difficult time conceiving, but there has been little research to study this connection. Researchers in Denmark recently published a study focused specifically on women with asthma which more clearly demonstrates this association.

Using a group of 15,000 twins, Danish researchers looked at things like time to pregnancy, the outcomes of those pregnancies in wide range of the participants, including those with asthma, allergies and people that lacked both of these. Even when researchers adjusted for differences in things like socioeconomic status, body mass index, and other factors, an association between asthma, how well the asthma was being treated and time to pregnancy emerged.

The shortest time to pregnancy, TTP, was demonstrated in women without asthma. The longest TTP was for women over 30, with asthma that wasn't being treated. These two variables, treatment of asthma and age, also played a role in the association. Asthmatic women who were over 30 generally tended to see a longer TTP than those who were under the age of 30. And, women who's asthma was untreated, also tended to see longer TTP than those who were treating their condition.

While not definitive, this study highlights a few things. First, if you're a woman with asthma, treat it. Not only can effectively treating your asthma improve your quality of life, but it make lessen the effect that asthma has on fertility. Second, age matters. The older you get, the greater impact allergic disease, like asthma, can have. Lastly, the study broadly indicates that a systematic disease that can create systematic inflammation (like asthma) can have an effect on a seemingly unrelated process like reproduction.

To read the abstract of this study.

Author: K. Gilmore

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, October 09, 2013
Crane Adorable Child HumidifiersAs part of our expansion of our humidifier offering, we've now added select cool mist humidifiers by Crane. Crane is known for the animal/character themed design as well as their ease of use. So whether dry indoor air is making your child feel a little less than "froggy" or a night time cough is driving you "quackers," Crane has an inexpensive and simple solution!

Crane Child Humidifier ControlsBoth Daphnie the Duck and Freddy the Frog are cool mist humidifiers that use ultrasonic technology to quickly and effectively disburse moisture back into indoor air. Compact and lightweight, these models are perfect for a child's bedroom. Holding about a gallon of water each, both can help relieve symptoms of eczema (like itchy skin), asthma (like a dry night time cough), or just general symptoms of dry indoor air, like chapped lips, dry or painful nasal passages.

You simply remove the tank, fill, then set your humidity level and let it run! If you have hard water, you can pick up an optional demineralization cartridge/filter to remove mineral content. No hard water or you use distilled water? Then it's ready to go right out of the box.

Crane Ultrasonic HumidifierAs a couple other notes about these humidifiers, there are no BPAs or phthalates in the plastic used, and since both are cool mist humidifiers, there are no heating elements or boiling water to worry about if it gets knocked over or spills. And, both the Crane Duck humidifier and Crane Frog humidifier will automatically shut off once the tank is empty.

Each of these are in stock and ready to ship today or can be picked up from our showroom. I like them for a few reasons - cost, simplicity, and they're much easier on the eyes (especially in a kid's room) than most other models. Granted they lack some of the snazzy features and length of warranty of models that cost two to three times as much, but as basic way to restore humidity back into your indoor air, this duck (and frog), might fit the "bill."

And the last reason why I like these humidifiers? Bad puns galore! Just as a side note... is the "Crane Duck" anything like a "Lion Tiger"?

Author: KevvyG

Posted by KevvyG on Tuesday, September 10, 2013
Last week we saw a flurry of articles written about the release of a study in the British Journal of Dermatology. The reason for publicity is that part of the research takes aim at an activity that pregnant women commonly engage in and its potential link to the development of asthma in the unborn child. I'm not talking about cravings, though that IS always a fun and revealing topic to delve into. At this point, my title gives it all away - swimming. So before we figuratively (and literally) jump overboard, let's take a look at this theory.

First, this was a difficult article to find. Despite so many news articles written about it, there was literally only one article that actually cited the original abstract. Typical of research pieces, the title was not something that made the association between it and the content evident to a layperson. Posted below, the research piece starts by mentioning the "hygiene theory". This is the theory that the rise in allergic disease in western societies is at least in part due to children not being exposed to a variety of microorganisms during key developmental periods. More simply put, the theory suggests that we're too clean. The proliferation of antibacterial soaps and hand sanitizers, the focus on everything in the home and office being clean, the Pregnancy, the Hygiene Hypothesis and Swimmingprolific use of antibiotics, and the reduction in the amount of time that children spend outdoors, exposed to germs and allergens, creates an environment where a developing immune system isn't properly trained. Subsequently, the immune system falsely recognizes allergens, microbes and other environmental elements as "bad actors" and when exposed to them, triggers an immune response to promptly boot them off stage.

This is only a theory and some of the most recent research has punched some holes into it. The current piece though expands on the hygiene theory and suggests that exposure to certain chemicals may play a role in the development of allergic disease. In this particular instance, researchers are focused on airborne chemicals. They have found that five specific maternal occupations are characterized by "high or persistent exposure to airborne chemicals." Additionally, they suggest that sustained exposure to chlorinated chemicals from swimming pools may also be related to the development of allergic disease.

VOCs, including chlorinated compounds like chloramines, have long been studied and show links to a variety of health problems. This study though, has caused a stir because of the mention of chlorine and swimming. Swimming is an often recommended activity for mothers to be since it is a great way to maintain a healthy weight, and unlike many other forms of aerobic exercise, swimming allows for better overall support of the body. The British National Health Service recommends swimming for pregnant women, and the U.S. National Institute of Health has sponsored studies that show swimming has no "adverse reproductive outcomes". Swimming in Lake MichiganHowever, the study we're currently focused on is one that looks less at swimming as an activity and more at the exposure to chemicals.

In not only the occupations highlighted but also swimming in chlorinated pools, researchers have suggested there is a association between VOCs and chlorine vapor and the development of atopic disease like asthma. So with that being said, are there alternatives to chlorinated swimming pools? While you can certainly wear a asthma mask to reduce exposure to pollutants (like the Honeycomb Carbon mask I recently picked up for a friend who is pregnant with her first child), a mask isn't really an ideal device to swim with.

A coworker of mine suggested saline or "salt water" pools. Personally, I've never swum or even heard of such a thing, but after some research as well as a call to a local apartment complex that has a saline pool and another to a retailer of such pools, I found one thing that appears to be true. Saline pools aren't as free of chlorine vapor as you might think. While they do use less chlorine, they still do use chlorine to sanitize the pools. They rely upon an advanced filtration system that uses the salt in the water to produce chlorine. And like traditional swimming pools, they do require a good deal of maintenance to ensure proper pH balance and chlorine levels are maintained to keep the water sanitary.

So what about the ocean, nature's original "salt water pool"? Love it. The ocean is great! Unfortunately, not all pregnant women have easy access to the ocean, not to mention some times of the year are simply too cold to go for a super brisk swim (all while pregnant nonetheless). Lakes and rivers might also be excellent alternatives, but Best Place to Swim?  Yup!again, access to these bodies of water may be limiting, as could be the weather. Still, in coastal areas or in places where weather permits, all three of these would be good alternatives to chlorinated swimming pools.

This study isn't definitive, and like other theories, a great deal of further research is needed to more clearly define the association, its consequences and suitable alternatives. I'm not suggesting you completely jump ship and avoid chlorinated swimming pools (bad pun #2). I generally do simply because I grew up swimming in lakes, rivers and "cricks" (what, up home, we define as bigger than a stream but smaller than a creek). Chlorinated pools are ubiquitous, particularly here in the U.S., and access to them is often free and convenient, but if this potential does give you cause for concern, consult with your obstetrician to find suitable exercise alternatives, or at a minimum, cut back on the frequency of swimming in them while pregnant.

Perhaps this all gives new meaning to one of my grandmother's favorite sayings, "Why don't you go jump in a lake?!" Thanks Grandma!

The original abstract of this research piece.

Author: K. Gilmore

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