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Vickie A., PA

It took a while for Vickie to get a grip on her advanced asthma. The disease, in remission during her teen and early adult years, returned with severity 19 years ago. "I was in distress for an entire year," says the Pennsylvania resident. "Most people stay in the hospital for a couple of days and then they go home, but I was in distress for the whole year."

After working with doctors for years, Vickie was able to identify most of her triggers, a help in the management of her asthma. "We found that chemicals were a huge factor in the exacerbation of my disease," she says. "I had to change most of my life. It was a very challenging and traumatic thing." Vickie got rid of her gas stove, switched clothing and household sheets from synthetic to natural fibers, such as cotton and wool, and replaced her soap and shampoo. After extensive diagnosis for food sensitivity, Vickie also underwent an entirely new diet absent of prepared foods. "I had extensive allergies in a lot of categories at a time when they weren't associated with asthma, but now they are." She adds, "I was fortunate. One of my doctors is internationally known. I was dying and she saved my life. I had to find a new normal."

And the amount of chemicals, Vickie echoes, can't be ignored. "There are a lot of chemicals in the air, many in everyday products. Indoor air quality is just as important as outdoor air quality. They contribute to health problems." She adds, "I feel as though people in central Pennsylvania don't know what their triggers are. If their medication can't control their asthma, then they don't have any control. I don't know how much of a role this environment plays. We used to have the fourth worst area for air quality." She notes that people go to the hospital at the same time every year, yet aren't aware of what their triggers are. "That's why the clean air legislation is so important."

First Published: September 29, 2011

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