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A well-cared for and lovingly furnished home also benefits your health
Our home should not make us sick,
but provide protection and strength;
© panthermedia.net/Ursula Jacobs
But these things should be taken seriously. That’s why the professors Matthias Augustin, Gerd Schnack and Hermann Rauhe look at the subject of “Living and Health as a Function of Prevention” in more detail during the MEDICA.
One health issue that is also perceived by the general public as something that’s connected to one’s living arrangements is the so-called house dust allergy. This isn’t really an allergy to dust, but rather the immune system’s response to the feces and droppings of house dust mites which live in the dust. These little critters also live in blankets and pillows, though they only show their ugly faces under a microscope. As a counter measure for people who are allergic to house dust mites it is a good idea to clean blankets and pillows regularly or to replace them, to choose smooth floor surfaces or allergy-friendly carpeting and to banish dust catchers and dirt collectors from their homes. In doing so, one tries to prevent the allergy from leading to asthma for example, which can definitely happen after many years. Allergists talk about a progression in these cases, meaning the transgression of an illness from the upper to the lower respiratory tract.
If the walls of an apartment
look like this, the residents could
already suffer from health
detriments;© panthermedia.net /
The whole body can be affected
Yet it’s not just the respiratory tracts that can be affected, if something in the home isn’t “quite right”. Metabolic, cardiovascular and chronic inflammatory diseases can also show up, brought on for instance by toxic substances such as formaldehyde (in the furniture, the carpet or also in the building structure). Particularly in poorer countries, people are more often affected by this problem – and they pay for it with the corresponding diseases.
How important the “home“ aspect is all over the world for the preservation of health, is something the World Health Organization Europe (WHO) is also emphasizing. One pamphlet issued this year titled “Environmental burden of disease associated with inadequate housing” gives an idea of which health issues can arise for instance from mold and mildew, radon gas or tobacco smoke.
Yet the wrong furnishings or non-barrier free apartments can also pose a danger to your health. The pamphlet states for instance that “more than 110,000 people each year in Europe die of an injury acquired at their home or during their leisure time and an estimated 32,000 people need to be treated at a hospital (Road Safety Board, 2007).“1 Aside from burns, poisoning and physical injuries from house fires, falls for example over a loose carpet edge or steps and collisions into free-standing objects, for instance into a sharp-edged coffee table are also being mentioned. Of course you might ask yourself right now what medical science can actually do in this instance, since everybody knows that life itself is after all very dangerous. Yet in fact it is not a bad idea to also open up the minds of people in medical professions to the living quarters of their patients. The advice to older persons to arrange for a barrier-free residence early enough for the sake of their health is just as appropriate as the hint to young parents that the mold in their apartment might be responsible for their child’s asthma. The workshop during the MEDICA CONGRESS starts right at this point and highlights how the different medical disciplines can help in taking action in matters of living and health.
MEDICA CONGRESS: Living and Health as a Function of Prevention
Date and time: Wednesday, 11-16-2011; 14:30 to 17:30
Location and venue: CCD Pavilion, Room 19, first floor
To get to the PDF-file of WHO Europe, please click here.
(Translated by Elena O'Meara)
1: Michael D. Keall, David Ormandy, Michael G. Baker: Housing conditions and home injury; Page 33 in „Environmental burden of disease associated with inadequate housing” (WHO)