Asthma affects millions worldwide, with various triggers, including environmental factors. Recent studies have linked high carbon dioxide (CO2) levels to asthma symptoms. This link helps us understand how to improve respiratory health and quality of life for people with asthma or those at risk of developing it.
Asthma, a widespread respiratory condition affecting millions worldwide, is influenced by various factors, notably environmental triggers. This chronic ailment affects the airways, creating significant breathing challenges. The episodes are marked by inflammation and the narrowing of air passages, leading to recurring wheezing, chest tightness, coughing, and shortness of breath.
Globally, around 339 million people grapple with asthma, making it a pressing public health concern, reports the World Health Organization.1 This condition doesn’t discriminate based on age, although it often begins in childhood. Asthma affects 8.3% of children in the United States and is the most common chronic disease of childhood.2 Its prevalence varies across countries and regions due to genetic, environmental, and lifestyle factors.
Asthma symptoms, triggered by various factors, differ from person to person. Common triggers include allergens like pollen, dust mites, and pet dander, along with respiratory infections, exercise, smoke, chemicals, and even weather changes. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may occur intermittently or persistently. Common symptoms include wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and coughing, especially at night or early in the morning.
The impact of high CO2 on asthma
Researchers have delved into the impact of high CO2 levels on asthma, uncovering a significant potential between the two.3 Elevated CO2 levels can worsen asthma symptoms and more frequent exacerbations.4 High CO2 concentrations in indoor environments have been linked to increased hospital visits, emergency room admissions, and escalated usage of asthma medications among those with asthma.5
When CO2 levels rise, it can act as a trigger for asthma symptoms. High CO2 concentrations can lead to airway inflammation, bronchoconstriction (narrowing of the airways), and increased mucus production. These physiological responses manifest as wheezing, shortness of breath, chest tightness, and persistent coughing – all hallmark signs experienced by asthma sufferers.6
Aranet4 HOME Indoor Air Quality monitor
The potential mechanisms underlying the association between high CO2 and asthma symptoms are still being investigated. It is believed that elevated CO2 levels can alter airway smooth muscle tone and increase airway reactivity.7 Moreover, CO2 concentrations might influence the release of inflammatory mediators and immune responses, aggravating existing airway inflammation in individuals with asthma. By reducing CO2 concentrations and promoting ventilation, individuals with asthma can minimize risks and achieve better control over their respiratory health.
Strategies to reduce CO2 levels and improve asthma control
To reduce CO2 levels at home indoors and manage asthma effectively, consider these practical, easy-to-follow tips:
- Enhance ventilation: Ensure fresh air circulates freely by opening windows when possible. Additionally, use exhaust fans in areas like kitchens and bathrooms, where CO2 levels tend to rise.
- Control humidity: Keep humidity levels in check, as fluctuations can contribute to poor indoor air quality. Dehumidifiers can be invaluable in areas prone to excess moisture. Address water leaks promptly to thwart mold and mildew growth.
- Minimize indoor air pollutants: Reduce the use of products that emit pollutants, such as tobacco and strong chemicals. Opt for natural cleaning solutions when possible. This choice not only benefits the environment but also promotes cleaner indoor air.
- Clean living spaces: Regularly tidy and vacuum to minimize dust, pet dander, and other allergens that can worsen asthma symptoms. Use high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters in vacuums and air purifiers to trap small particles effectively.
Incorporating these strategies into your daily routine will help you reduce CO2 levels and foster a healthier living space. These steps empower you to take control of your asthma, promoting well-being and peace of mind. To find out more about keeping the air fresh and using smart technology to aid you, read our previous blog post.
- Asthma. https://www.who.int/news-room/facts-in-pictures/detail/asthma#
- Asthma in Children and Adults—What Are the Differences and What Can They Tell us About Asthma? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6603154/#
- Breathe Easy: How Carbon Dioxide Affects Asthma and What You Can Do About It. Breathe Easy:
- Do severe asthma patients have altered sensitivity to carbon dioxide levels in the control of breathing when compared to healthy individuals? https://erj.ersjournals.com/content/42/Suppl_57/P1333
- Impact of Air Pollution on Asthma Outcomes. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7503605/
- Symptoms-Asthma. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/asthma/symptoms/
- Elevated CO2 modulates airway contractility. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7898145/