Asthma is becoming more and more common and with all the toxins in the air today, it can be more deadly than ever. As a result, the National Institute of Environmental Health and Safety (NIEHS) is putting a lot of resources into asthma research. They currently have 16 major projects and studies in progress, making them one of the largest asthma research funders.
Because environmental allergens have been shown to be one of the most common asthma triggers, much of their research is in the area of how to reduce, measure and study the effects of common allergens like mold or dust mites. Their studies have shown that controlling the environmental allergens can be just as effective at treating children with asthma as inhalers and nebulizers.
The bottom line is that there is more to treating asthma than just medication. In one of the NIEHS studies, specific items such as mattress covers and pillowcase covers were provided to families with children suffering from asthma.
In another study, they provided them with HEPA filters for bedrooms and other areas, to remove dust and particles from the air. The result of these studies was that the children had fewer acute asthma attacks and significantly more days free from symptoms.
This has a practical side as well as a human one – each symptom-free day saves the health care system $ 25. The children who took part in the study averaged 38 more days without symptoms over the course of the 2 years the study ran. If those numbers are multiplied by the millions of children who suffer from asthma, the savings to the health care system are staggering.
Other areas of asthma research being conducted by the NIEHS include the effects of genetics on asthma and the effects of better community education. Education is a particular exciting area. When combined with a reduction of environmental allergens in public buildings such as day cares and schools, the number of asthma hospitalizations can be decreased considerably.
There is also research being conducted into new drugs and intervention methods for acute asthma, however the current options for medical care are considered to be both safe and effective.