During the twelve plus years I have been working with air purifiers and the prior seven years working as a respiratory therapist, I have seen many remarkable, and many sad situations in people’s lives who suffered from one respiratory disease or another. As a respiratory therapist, it was emotionally difficult seeing the suffering my patients went through. It was a real pleasure to help get them well and send them home. But since many went right back to the same environment that had made them sick, sooner or later most of them returned, again and again. It was frustrating and I began to think, “There has to be a better way.”
It wasn’t until several years later when I purchased an air purifier to help with my allergies to cats (which I discovered while taking care of a friend’s cat for an extended period of time) that I realized, “There really is a better way!” Since that time I have seen many people escape that revolving door of hospital admissions for respiratory difficulties through lifestyle changes and the use of a good quality air purifier. Not just any purifier, but one that uses a state-of-the-science technology called photo catalytic oxidation (PCO) technology was originally developed for NASA and has since been further researched, improved and developed into radiant catalytic ionization (RCI). (For an understanding of RCI and how it works see my blog post of February 6, 2011 on IAQ: Air Filtration vs. Air Purification)
But the story of one man in particular stands out in my mind. This one is about a man (whom I’ll call Frank) who like many others I have seen, developed first a sensitivity and then a full-blown allergy to grasses, pollen and molds that eventually left him a prisoner in his own home for most of the year.
Prior to becoming sick Frank loved to mow his lawn on his big riding mower. He lives in the country and has a big back yard he likes to refer to as “the back forty.” And he loved to mow the back forty. His allergies finally got to the point where he could not only no longer mow the back forty, but from spring until the first hard frost in the fall, he was unable to go outside for any significant period of time. He was prescribed medications to treat his allergies; steroids, inhalers, nebulizer treatments etc. but they only managed his symptoms, never giving him enough relief that he was able to go out of his home for significant amounts of time except for the period from late fall until early spring when his allergens were not present in the air in quantities sufficient to cause him problems.
Then one day a friend of Frank’s told him about an air purifier that might help him. He tried one of these air purifiers for a couple of weeks and found it gave him enough relief that he was able go for longer and longer periods of time without his inhalers and nebulizer treatments. In fact he found the air purifier helped him so much that he bought it. After about two months of running this air purifier in his home 24/7 Frank was able to taper off the steroids, and working closely with his allergist was able to completely quit taking them. By the end of three months he was almost completely off all of his respiratory medications and had more energy and stamina than he had experienced in years.
During all of this time Frank really missed going out and mowing the back forty. One day about four or five months after he started using the air purifier it was such a beautiful day and he felt so good, he said to himself, “What the heck, I’m going to go out and mow the back forty!” And he did.
In fact, he mowed the back forty without any problems and came back into the house. He expected that it was only a matter of time before it would hit him “like a ton of bricks” and he would have to use his inhalers or give himself a nebulizer treatment, or worse yet, go to the emergency room. Frank had prepared himself for it feeling it was inevitable – only a matter of time before he would have to pay for what he had done and he thought he would “pay for it, big time.”
But it never came. He slept through the night and the next day he was still doing well. Perplexed, he called his allergist and told him what he had done. And that he didn’t have any of his old respiratory symptoms. He expected his doctor to chastise him for his irresponsible behavior. But the doctor never said a word. All Frank heard was silence on the other end of the line. The doctor was busy processing what had happened. He realized this wasn’t typical of his patients.
“Doc, I don’t understand it. I know I’m not cured – am I? How could I expose myself like that and yet not have any problems?”
His allergist then proceeded to explain to him the following. And this is what I have never forgotten:
Understanding your threshold
With a respiratory allergy everyone has a threshold. Your threshold is that point at which you begin to experience symptoms. When exposure to the allergens has been great enough, and a person has been pushed to that threshold or beyond, the symptoms appear. The further the threshold has been exceeded the worse the symptoms.
Everyone’s threshold is dynamic; always moving. Your threshold is higher when you are taking care of yourself; eating right, getting a good night’s sleep, drinking plenty of pure water, and most importantly, managing stress (emotional, spiritual and physical). That means your exposure to allergens has to be greater in order to cause symptoms. If you slip up in any of these areas, or come down with a cold or the flu, the threshold drops, meaning it takes less exposure to cause symptoms.
Creating a buffer zone
The difference between where you are at any given time in relation to your threshold, when you are symptom-free, is your buffer zone – the better you are taking care of yourself (higher threshold) and the less your exposure to your allergens, the greater the buffer zone you have. With a larger buffer zone your exposure to allergens can be greater before you begin to experience symptoms.
What Frank had done with the air purifier and diligently living an improved lifestyle, was create a sanctuary in his home; a place where his exposure to allergens was virtually non-existent or greatly reduced. With this and with his healthy lifestyle habits he had created a large enough buffer zone that he was able to go out and mow the back forty without getting into trouble.
Creating a Sanctuary
There are places like your home, your car, your office at work, where with the use of an air purifier, (yes, there are air purifiers you can plug in and use in your car) you can create a sanctuary; where your exposure to allergens is virtually non-existent or greatly reduced. With the resulting increased buffer zone, you can go out into places where you have no control over your allergen exposure and not get pushed over your threshold as quickly now. That means less problems with your asthma, allergies or hayfever.
Not everyone will have the same experience that Frank did. Everyone’s situation is different. But I have seen a lot of people helped by using an air purifier at home and at work to reduce their allergen exposure. Many have been able to reduce the severity and incidence of their symptoms, some have been able to reduce or even completely eliminate their medications. And sadly, some have not experienced significant relief. The only way to know is to try one of these RCI-type air purifiers for yourself.
These air purifiers are not intended to be a treatment for disease, a replacement for medical treatment, or prescription medications or seeing your family physician, but many report that when used properly and in conjunction with a supervised medical regimen, they may reduce the severity of your symptoms. Always consult your physician before making any changes in your treatment regimen.
Mary (not her real name) had allergies and had been using prescription nasal sprays and inhalers for over twenty years when I met her. A friend and neighbor had told her about this remarkable air purifier that had helped her when she got sick from mold contamination in her home.
Mary borrowed her friend’s air purifier one weekend when her friend went out of town. She told me, “I felt so much better after just three days that I didn’t want to give it back.” That’s when she called me to get a demo unit. When I set up the demo unit in her home and showed her how to adjust it she said, “I already know I want one. Order one for me right away.”
When Mary’s air purifier arrived I took it over to set it up and pick up the demo unit. She told me, “This may sound funny to you, but I can’t believe how great it feels to actually breathe through my nose!” She shared with me that she had been unable to breathe through her nose for over twenty years. And in the short period of time since I had set up the demo unit in her home she had already stopped using the nasal sprays.
Again, your experience may not be the same as Mary’s, but the only way you’ll know how well it will work for you is to try one for yourself. These air purifiers are not intended to be a treatment for disease, a replacement for medical treatment, or prescription medications or seeing your family physician, but many report that when used properly and in conjunction with a supervised medical regimen they may reduce the severity of your symptoms. Always consult your physician before making any changes in your treatment regimen.
If you live in West Michigan you can contact me by email to set up a free, no obligation trial of one of these air purifiers. If you are outside of the West Michigan area, purchase one of the air purifiers through my internet store. I’ll ship it to you and if you are not satisfied with the results simply return it complete within 30 days in the original packaging and I’ll refund the purchase price upon receipt.