Asthma and Hygiene Link

Question:  I have came across articles talking about “hygiene hypothesis” and this is often referenced when talking about asthma.  What is it?

The “hygiene hypothesis” is a philosophy followed by certain medical studies, which is uncovered during thorough research and investigation on what caused the sudden rise of asthma cases.  While asthma isn’t exactly a novel condition, asthma cases have surged since the records began.  Certain medical studies have revealed why this is, and along with environmental conditions, the hygiene hypothesis has been attributed to the upsurge of cases.

“Hygiene Hypothesis” denotes that we humans are far more hygienic than we have ever been.  Most homes now use heavy duty cleaning products, and young children aren’t as exposed to dirt and bacteria as they were back in the mid 20th century.  While this isn’t necessarily bad, some studies show that it can contribute to the rise of asthma cases.

Aerial bacteria can aggravate the bronchi and may cause temporary lung inflammation.  This is manifested by coughing.  Young children during the 50’s and 60’s are more exposed to bacteria daily due to a more lax hygiene practices and cleaning standards.  As a result, the bronchi becomes irritated.  But the body has learned how to manage the exposure and is able to soothe the irritated bronchi.

Asthma can be described as bronchial irritation.  As children these days are becoming less exposed to the same level of bacteria compared to the mid 20th century, their bodies have not learned how to cope with the exposure.  Hence, it is not able to soothe the irritated bronchi in their younger years.  This, as the “hygiene hypothesis” suggest, has caused the increase of asthma cases, as when the body is rarely exposed to bacteria, it will not be able to cope with the exposure later on.

Title Post: Asthma and Hygiene Link
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