The last 24 hours of my life has been an emotional roller coaster, my 15 month old daughter was admitted into the hospital yesterday for difficulty breathing. Her oxygen level was only at 80%, she was struggling to breathe and it was the scariest thing I have ever seen or been through. I was helpless because I could not help her breathe or make her feel better. I had to hold her tight while they struggled to give her the liquid steroids to open up her airways, while she fought the breathing treatments and screamed because they couldn’t get a vain for the I.V. and all the while she just looked at me for help. We were in isolation because they weren’t sure if she has RSV or influenza. They did a chest x-ray and the doctor said it looked more like an asthmatic attack but she was too young to officially be diagnosed for asthma. She came back negative for RSV and influenza but they said she had bronchiolitis and our family physician is going to continue to watch her for asthma because of the very strong possibility.

Did you know that 1 in 4 Americans have allergies or asthma, according to, American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) , and that more than 4 million American children have had a asthma attack in the last year? At three in the morning, rocking my crying daughter back to sleep after her breathing treatment, I saw a commercial with a fish fighting to breath because it was out of its bowl of water. I do not know what it feels like to gasp for air and work hard to breathe but that commercial brought tears to my eyes because my daughter and 4 million other children know that feeling. The AAAI reports , that 11 Americans die each day because of Asthma. My daughter’s diagnosis of bronchiolitis could very well lead to Asthma and these statistics and my experience has me frightened for her.

There are many triggers for Asthma and they suspect that a virus triggered her “episode” and we can only hope that it doesn’t happen again. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) , lists the following as possible triggers: pollen, mold, furry animals, dust mites, cockroaches, mice, food, latex, irritants (toxic chemicals, airborne dust particles, fumes, and weather), infections, exercise, and medicine. So really, a lot of different things can lend themselves to an asthma attack and every persons “triggers” are a little different. Could it have been the cold weather, the pets at my daughter’s daycare or that one of the workers smokes and it was on her clothes? Maybe they cleaned with bleach that day and the fumes triggered her attack? Did she have an allergic reaction to a food or was it the virus? The unknowns are staggering and scary to a parent.

I cannot be certain she has asthma yet. I cannot change the weather, allergies, or prevent her from getting a virus 100% of the time. I CAN be aware of environmental irritants that I can control and that others can control. We all probably know at least one person with this disease so all of us should be sensitive to these irritants. I have a lot or research to do and hopefully will have a daughter that does not have asthma but there are 20 million Americans out there that suffer from this disease. That happens to be a lot of people who have to walk into situations where anything could trigger them to struggle for a breath of air. Maybe it’s the chemical cleaner sprayed to clean the deli table or the fumes from the bathroom sanitizer or that puff of smoke from the person walking by them on the street. Earth day is 17 days away and this alone is a good reason to stop using toxic cleaners but another good reason to prevent your child, yourself or others who could have asthma from breathing in those fumes. If you’re a teacher, think about what your school uses to clean with and how many asthmatic children could be suffering because of this. If you own a business, think of how many people could be affected by what you use to clean your business or office with. We all need to become more aware of environmental factors that could possibly be a trigger for someone with asthma. I use non-toxic cleaners for many reasons but now I have another reason to continue spreading my message and sharing what I know with others. Don’t think this is a stretch either because after talking to the doctors, nurses, and some friends and family with asthma they all seemed to agree that the chemicals and toxins can indeed cause breathing problems, whether a person has asthma or not. If you haven’t watch the presentation, Toxic Brew, I urge you to take a few minutes and learn more about the toxic cleaners you might be using in your home. It might shock you.

My experience was far from unique and for all of you that have had to endure an asthma attack or watch your child suffer, my heart goes out to you. I was bidding my time to speak with my child’s daycare provider because she goes only a few hours a week but now that I have learned more I have to talk to the owner sooner than later, for all of the children who attend. It could very well not be a trigger for her but it could be for some other child. My eyes are more open now and as a green and clean mom who not only cares about the environment, her children and other children…I have to tell my story and help as many children as possible avoid controllable irritants so they do not suffer a possible asthma attack. What do you use in your home that could be dangerous to breath?

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