a man sits at his desk and looks out the window as mold grows in the corners of his office

Is My New Asthma-Proof House Really Asthma-Proof? 

So, I’ve been telling the story of my home search. I talked about renting with asthma. I talked about the house search. I talked about finding that perfect allergy-proof house. And then I moved into that house. So, is that asthma-proof house really asthma-proof?

Flare-ups since moving in

Since I’ve moved into this asthma-proof house I have been on systemic steroids twice now. I have had chronic sinusitis for years, but since I moved into this house, it has flared up big time. Even the steroids don’t seem to make it better.

Sinusitis causes nasal drainage can trigger the asthma response.1 This causes coughing and the need for me to use my rescue medicine every 4 hours or so, and sometimes more often. And, worse, I think it also makes me more susceptible to catching respiratory infections. Sinusitis does this.1

This is because of all the extra sputum inside your nose and sinus passages. It dries up and causes your nose to feel stuffy. Germs have an increased chance of growing there. It’s sort of a nice little breeding ground for respiratory bacteria.2 So, that might explain why I keep getting sick.

Seeing an asthma specialist

Steroids and antibiotics help get me over these acute flare-ups, but they do not seem to resolve my sinusitis. This led me to see an ear, nose, and throat doctor (ENT). Yes, I had to see an asthma specialist for the first time in 25 years, and he put me back on steroids and more antibiotics. I’m still not better.

I’m not horrible. I am still able to function. I am still able to work. Symptoms are mild, relatively speaking. Still, they are there lingering. And more than anything, they are annoying.

This is unusual for me. I have had pretty good asthma control for the past 10 years, and have rarely even needed my rescue medicine. So, the fact I’m using it on a regular schedule daily is kind of new to me.

What is the culprit?

It could be a coincidence. I did have to move into my new house, and I did most of this moving by myself. I was in the basement of my rental, and I was in the basement of my new house. This wore me down and caused my asthma to flare up. So, it’s possible I'm still recovering from that. In fact, my new ENT noted as much. He said sometimes sinusitis flare-ups may result from a bad cold. Or, he said, they may result from a high dose of allergens. In my case, either one of these could be the culprit.

However, since the antibiotics didn’t seem to relieve my symptoms, he said he is leaning towards allergies being the culprit. And this, I am thinking, makes sense considering I have severe allergies, particularly to molds and dust mites, and the move to the new house.

Is my new asthma-proof house the culprit?

The upstairs is fine. It’s totally asthma-proof (at least I think, with the wood floors, air conditioning, etc.), and I thought the basement was too. It’s completely remodeled, although this remodeling was done probably in the 1980s. I say this because of the painted paneling. I did smell that musty, moldy basement smell somewhat when I moved in. A part of me loved the house so much I think I just ignored this smell.

After I moved in, my kids and I learned to love this basement. We set up a film projector down there so we can watch TV on the big screen projected onto the wall. We set up bean bags and a recliner to relax and watch TV and movies. This quickly became our favorite room, but was being down there so much exposing me to an asthma house trigger called mold?

I have since banned myself from the basement and even wear a mask when I go down there. Mold in basements is not a new thing. I’m sure many houses I’ve lived in have had it and it never caused me a problem. But, I rarely went into those basements, mainly because they weren’t as nice as this one.

Hard to identify triggers even in asthma-proof house

As I noted before, finding out our asthma house triggers is like playing a game of Clue. It’s like playing Sherlock Holmes. So, I’m coping just fine. That’s what we asthmatics do, and I am really enjoying my new home. I do think the upstairs is asthma-friendly (at least I’m convincing myself it is). So, I’m spending my time up here now enjoying the fresh air. Adding to my pleasure is I have a nice picture window where I do my writing. Right now it’s snowing, and the snow-covered trees look so beautiful.

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