Americans are a people on the move. If you are planning a move, you will take your allergies and asthma with you. This article presents some important factors to consider for you and your family's health as you make your home in a new location.
What Should I Know About Where I Am Moving?
Before you decide whether to move, gather information about your proposed new place of residence. Then discuss these considerations with your allergist. He or she can help you find out how your allergies and asthma may be affected in the new location. Compare the allergens—substances that trigger allergies—in the new location with those where you live now. He or she can also refer you to an allergist in your new community and arrange for transfer of medical records.
What Will the Climate be Like in the New Location?
Pollens and molds are among the most common allergens, and to some extent the weather can affect their abundance. Molds and dust mites, for instance, are more plentiful in damp climates. Some types of pollens are more numerous in dry climates. Cold air can trigger more frequent or severe asthma attacks. The National Weather Service can provide helpful information about average temperatures, humidity, ozone levels and pollen counts in your new location.
Air pollution is a significant irritant to your airways, which can trigger symptoms. You should know about the presence of farm and factory chemicals, industrial plants, and chemical fumes in your new place. Burning dumps, bodies of water containing noxious odors, and exhaust fumes from cars, boats, trains, and other vehicles all contribute to air pollution, which can have a big impact on your allergies and/or asthma. The local Chamber of Commerce and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency can provide information on the area's industrial water and air pollution.
Also consider the indoor environment where you'll be spending much of your time. If you're moving into a new house, look out for the presence of animal dander, dust, new paint, chemical fumes, molds and other allergens. You'll need to consider these factors not just in your new home, but also in your workplace.
What About My Children's Allergies and Asthma?
If you have a child with allergies and/or asthma, consider the new school environment and how it may affect his or her condition. Moving with an allergic child can be like starting all over again. Talk with the school nurse about the child's health and how to handle acute asthma or allergy attacks. Your child's new teacher(s) should also know about your child's allergies and/or asthma. Special arrangements may be needed if your child's allergies are severe. For instance, alternative activities may be needed in a science class where fur-bearing animals are kept.
It's also a good idea to speak with your child's physical education teacher. The teacher should be aware of your child's condition so that warning signs of an allergy or asthma attack can be headed off before they occur and to ensure that treatment with an inhaler will be allowed before exercise. A child with allergic or asthma problems may feel self-conscious about the limitations on his or her activity. The child should not be belittled or ridiculed, especially not because of a medical condition. Make sure the teacher understands your child's health problems and how to respond in an emergency.
Psychological and emotional stress can also worsen allergies and asthma, in adults as well as children. For children with allergies and asthma, stress may come from losing friends in the old location, having new teachers in the new place, and getting used to new doctors and caregivers. Children whose families have moved must break into a new social group and make new friendships. This can be tough at any age, but it is especially difficult during adolescence. If not dealt with, stress can lead to poorer performance in school. As a parent, you can help ease your child's transition by establishing good relationships with new doctors and teachers.
If you're planning a move, the advice given here can help you make informed choices for your entire family. You may want to consider "trying out" the new location by renting a house or apartment there before buying a new home. These suggestions can help you make sure that the move is successful for everyone.
SOURCE: This information should not substitute for seeking responsible, professional medical care. First created 1995; fully updated 1998; most recently updated 2005.
© Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) Editorial Board