FDA Banning Inhaler Over Environmental Concerns
Federal health officials are banning a common over-the-counter asthma inhaler because it uses ingredients that harm the environment. Primatene Mist inhalers will no longer be available after December 31, because they use carbon gas that depletes the Earth's atmosphere, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Thursday. The inhaler, used for temporary relief of mild asthma symptoms, is the only FDA-approved inhaler sold over the counter without a prescription. While Primatene inhalers rely on chlorofluorocarbons to propel medication into the patient's airways, alternatives use the environmentally-friendly propellant hydrofluoroalkane. "If you rely on an over-the-counter inhaler to relieve your asthma symptoms, it is important that you contact a healthcare professional to talk about switching to a different medicine to treat your asthma," Badrul Chowdhury, director of FDA's pulmonary drug division, told the Associated Press.
7 Signs That Your Child May Have Exercise-Induced Asthma
When exercise leads to wheezing or coughing, people often blame the symptoms on being out of shape. But research shows that, in children at least, there may be more to the story, U.S. News reported in 2010. It's possible that children who experience problems following intense exercise may have undiagnosed, intermittent, exercised-induced asthma, says Clifford Bassett, chair of the public education committee at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology.
Research published last year found that short periods of heavy exercise caused decreased lung function in some children with no history of asthma or allergies. Nearly half of the 56 healthy children studied had at least one abnormal pulmonary function result following exercise. More research is needed to determine why this occurs and how it can be prevented, the authors wrote.
Complications of exercise-induced asthma include permanent narrowing of the child's airways, emergency room visits and hospitalizations, and poor athletic performance, according to the Mayo Clinic. But Bassett says it's likely that many children with exercise-induced asthma go undiagnosed. Some parents may not realize their children are having difficulty breathing after physical activity because kids tend to hide how they feel due to peer pressure or embarrassment, he says. And the symptoms may not happen during every round of physical activity. High pollen counts or poor air quality days may make symptoms more likely in susceptible children. [Read more: 7 Signs That Your Child May Have Exercise-Induced Asthma.]
Air Pollution: It's Not Just Your Lungs That Suffer
A growing body of research is shedding light on the ways that air pollutants impinge on the health of the American public. Indeed, the Environmental Protection Agency highlighted this concern in December 2009 when, after reviewing the evidence, it ruled that greenhouse gases are detrimental to human health, particularly because they can aggravate asthma and other respiratory illnesses and can produce longer, more intense heat waves that endanger the poor, sick, and elderly. But it's not just lungs that suffer, U.S. News reported in 2010.
To be sure, clean-air advocates have worked to improve the nation's air quality, and the health risks that a particular individual might face directly from breathing polluted air are low. But research consistently is finding that, when spread out over a given population—be it residents of a certain city or those with a particular disease—the quality of the air has a very significant impact on public health. When vehicles, factories, power plants, and other machines burn fuel, the chemicals they release into the atmosphere react with one another (and other compounds in the air) in ways that can amplify health hazards. "Greenhouse gases actually increase air pollution and therefore [raise the] potential for more adverse events for people with pre-existing respiratory conditions or heart conditions," says Kent Pinkerton, chair of the environmental health policy committee at the American Thoracic Society. [Read more: Air Pollution: It's Not Just Your Lungs That Suffer.]
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