Home Products Pricing Contact us Blog Testimonials
     
 
 

This information is solely for informational purposes. IT IS NOT INTENDED TO PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE

Recent asthma statistics show this disease now affects 17 million people in the United States -- that's an increase of 2.5 million people in the past five years. Asthma is the number one cause of chronic illness in kids, affecting more than 5.5 million children. Still, there is reason to be hopeful if you are one of the millions of asthmatics across the country -- although the number of asthma cases continues to climb, researchers are determined to develop more effective treatments. Plus, there are a number of home remedies you can try to ward off attacks and alleviate symptoms.

Understanding Asthma

When you take a breath, the air goes from your mouth or nose to the windpipe (or trachea), where it then travels to the lungs. It first enters the lungs through the bronchi, a group of tubes that branch off from the windpipe, and the bronchi then branch off into bronchioles. Asthma attacks occur when the bronchi and bronchioles come in contact with a foreign invader, or asthma "trigger."


The tendency to develop asthma is inherited, and it is more common among people who have allergies. Indeed, there are two forms of asthma, allergic asthma and nonallergic asthma, with the allergic form being more common. Allergic asthma develops in people who have allergies, and the same substances (called allergens) that provoke their allergy symptoms also trigger their asthma symptoms. Both the allergy and asthma symptoms are the product of an overreaction by the immune system.

Common triggers for allergic asthma include dust mites, pollen, mold, and pet dander. However, allergies can come from almost any substance. While dust mites and pollen are both airborne allergens, allergic asthma can also be trigged by an allergic reaction to something ingested, like strawberries.


©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Asthma attacks can be triggered by exposure to allergens.

In nonallergic asthma, on the other hand, the triggers that irritate the lungs and bring on asthma symptoms have nothing to do with allergies or the immune system. This type of asthma can be sparked by dry air, cold weather, exercise, smoke (including the secondhand variety), strong perfume, stressful situations, intense emotions, even laughing.

The point is, both types of asthma have triggers, and vigilant awareness of these triggers is the first step in living comfortably with asthma.

The typical symptoms of allergic and nonallergic asthma are similar. They include wheezing, tightening in the chest, dry coughing, and increased heart rate. The symptoms may occur immediately following contact with a trigger or may be delayed, and their severity varies among individual asthma sufferers.

As we said, there is no cure for asthma, but the good news is that asthma, whether mild, moderate, or severe, allergic or nonallergic, can be managed. Doctors who specialize in treating asthma can be very helpful. Every patient with asthma should see a doctor to be sure another cause of wheezing is not present and, if asthma is diagnosed, to develop a therapeutic program for managing the disorder.

In addition to working with your doctor, you can use home remedies to help control your asthma. All the medicine in the world won't help an asthma sufferer if he or she smokes. The most expensive air filter you can buy won't make a bit of difference if you leave your windows wide open. The key is to track down your triggers and, as completely as possible, eliminate them from your life.

In this article, we will describe some of the home remedies for avoiding common asthma triggers and minimizing your exposure to them. We will begin in the next section with ways to asthma-proof your home.

8 Easy Ways to Survive Allergy Season

During the spring, many people experience a flare in their allergy symptoms due to increased pollen counts. Plants are waking up after a long winter and putting their energy into reproducing, which is great for them but not so great for humans suffering from allergies. Luckily, there are a few tricks which when followed can minimize the severity of allergies that the coming season will bring.

1. Keep the windows closed
While it may be tempting to let in some of the fresh spring air, avoid this temptation in order to lessen allergy symptoms. Running the air conditioner is a more allergy-friendly option when it is warm out, inside the vehicles as well as at home. If you can't keep the windows closed all day, at least close them from 5am to 10am when the pollens are maximum in number. This is the time of day when the air usually has the most allergens present.

2. Avoid being outdoors in the early morning
If possible, stay inside between especially during early mornings and the afternoon. These are the hours when you are at the highest risk to contracting allergies. If you can't avoid taking a trip outside during the afternoon, make sure the car windows are closed.

3. Don't hang-dry your clothing or linens
Hang-drying clothing and linens is an environmentally-friendly option for people who do not suffer from allergies. However, pollen can be blown onto the fabric of sheets, towels and clothing and cause symptoms in allergy sufferers. Either hang the items indoors or resign yourself to using a dryer, at least when the allergy season is at its peak.

4. Pre-treat
If you take a seasonal allergy medication, ask your doctor if it is okay to start taking it a few weeks before spring truly starts. Allergy medicines tend to work better when they are taken for a couple of weeks prior to the beginning of exposure. Depending on where you live, this can be earlier or later in the year, coinciding with the initial warm days of spring. Mild winters tend to bring more pollen-heavy springs, so this step is especially important if the winter hasn't been too harsh.

5. Purchase and wear pollen mask when gardening
Ideally, it would be best if you can have someone else take over the outdoor chores during pollen season. However, if this is not possible, purchase and wear a pollen mask while performing outdoor chores, especially:

  • Lawn mowing
  • Raking leaves, and
  • Gardening

The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends a mask that has a NIOSH rated 95 filter.

6. Be aware of pollen counts
www.weather.com uses a tool for tracking pollen counts in your area. Since pollen counts can vary widely from day to day, make a habit of checking the pollen counts to know the particularly bad days and plan your daily schedule accordingly. This way, you can put off that picnic in the park or other outdoor activity when you see that the pollen rating has gone through the roof.

7. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter
Vacuuming can just stir up pollen and return it to the air if the proper filter is not used. To prevent this from happening, ensure that your vacuum has a HEPA filter, which will catch and take out many allergens. Ideally, have someone else do the vacuuming and stay out of the room for an hour or so afterward. This allows the dust that is inevitably stirred up time to settle.

8. Consider using a neti pot or Nose Mask Filter
Neti pots are an alternative treatment for sinus congestion. They use salt water to rinse out the sinuses and studies show that they work just as well as allergy medications for at least some people. Follow the directions and don't use plain tap water in a neti pot, as this has been implicated in rare cases of amoebiasis. Nose Mask Filter Pit  (www.breathnatural.com) protects you from inhalling pollen,dust and other airborne particles which are grater than 10microns.

Home Remedy Treatments for Asthma

The most important battlefront in controlling your asthma is your own house. Given all the hours we spend at home, the continual exposure to asthma triggers will eventually lead to an attack. Here are some home remedies you can try to make your home as asthma-safe as possible:

Don't pet a pet. The best approach is to not have a pet that can trigger your asthma, such as a dog, cat, or bird. The problem is not the hair of the animal but the dander, which is the dead, dry skin that flakes off. The animal licks the skin, and the dander remains in its saliva. Dander is a powerful allergen, so close contact with the pet can leave you gasping.


©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
The best approach is to not have a pet that can trigger
your asthma, such as a dog, cat, or bird.

Fortunately, taking a few common-sense measures may allow you to co-exist with a beloved animal companion. Do not allow your pet into the bedroom ever. If the animal is in the bedroom at any time during the day, the dander will remain for hours. Leave the pet home if you are going for a car ride that would necessitate very close contact with the animal. If you do have direct contact with your pet (or any animal, for that matter), wash your hands right away. If you simply cannot keep your hands off your pet, at least keep your face away; kiss the air, and your pet will still get the idea.

In addition, try bathing your dog or cat once every other week in warm water with no soap. Bathing the animal in this way significantly reduces the amount of allergen on your pet's fur.


Smite the mite. Dust mites, or rather the feces and dead bodies of these microscopic insects, are one of the most common allergic asthma triggers. They're everywhere in your home, although they love the bedroom most because they feed on the dead skin cells we constantly shed. Banishing dust mites from your home, or at least reducing their ranks, will help ease symptoms if you have allergic asthma triggered by these little critters. Here are some tips:
  • Enclose your mattress in an airtight cover, then cover it with a washable mattress pad.

  • Wash your sheets in hot water every week, and wash your mattress pads and synthetic blankets every two weeks.

  • Use polyester or dacron pillows, not those made of kapok or feathers, and enclose them in airtight dust covers.

  • Avoid carpeting, which is difficult to clean thoroughly; stick to bare floors with washable area rugs.

  • Choose washable curtains instead of draperies.

  • Avoid dust-catchers all over the house, especially in the bed; the less clutter the better. If possible, avoid storing out-of-season clothing or bedding in the bedroom; if you can't, enclose them in heavy plastic.

  • Try not to do heavy cleaning, but if you must, use only a vacuum cleaner and damp cloth to clean; dust mops and brooms stir up the dust.

  • Wear a mask over your mouth and nose while cleaning, and leave the room when you have finished.

  • Run an air conditioner or dehumidifier in warm weather, especially in spring and fall when mites multiply. Aim to keep the humidity level in your home under 40 percent but above 25 percent.

  • Consider using an air purifier in the bedroom to keep the room free from dust particles.
Minimize mold. No matter how vigilantly you clean, mold and other forms of fungi are probably lurking somewhere in your house. Fungus is a parasite that can grow on living and nonliving organic material in several forms, including mold, mildew, and dry rot. Fungi reproduce by producing spores. The spores are the real problem, as millions and millions of them float through the air to be inhaled in every breath, touching off an allergic reaction that can contribute to asthma. To stave off the spores, take the following steps:
  • Keep your windows closed, because the mold spores can come right in through the windows even if the windows have screens.

  • Stay out of attics, basements, and other dank, musty places.

  • Wear a face mask and give your bathroom a going-over for signs of mold. The most likely spots for mold growth: dark areas, such as the backs of cabinets and under the sink.

  • Examine all closets regularly to see that molds have not set up housekeeping in unused shoes and boots.

  • On a regular basis, have a family member or friend investigate the inner workings of air conditioners, humidifiers, and vaporizers in your home where molds like to grow.

  • Periodically check houseplants for mold growth. This will help keep your plants healthy, too.
Make peace with pollen. Pollen is released when plants are blooming: trees in the spring, grass in the late spring and early summer, ragweed from mid August until the first frost. Plants that are pollinated by the wind are much more of a problem for people with asthma than are those pollinated by insects. Since it's just about impossible to escape pollen, learn how to control your exposure to the powdery allergen, instead.

Avoid cutting grass or even being outside while grass is being mowed. Keep your windows closed as much as possible (pollen can get through screens, too) and use an air conditioner to cool your home in warm weather. Room air purifiers are also available that can purify recirculated air, removing particles of all sorts that are suspended in the air and further cleansing the air by passing it through a charcoal filter. After being outside in the midst of pollen, take off your clothes and wash them if possible or run a vacuum over those that can't be washed. Wash yourself, too, and don't forget your hair.


The key to managing asthma effectively is to prevent an attack before it occurs. By applying these home remedies and making some important lifestyle changes, you may be able to avoid the triggers that can exacerbate your asthma.

Kick the cigarette habit. Tobacco smoke can be an irritant that triggers asthma as well as an allergen that touches off an allergic response leading to asthma. Tobacco smoke is one of the worst irritants known: It paralyzes the tiny hairlike cilia along the mucous membranes of the respiratory tract. It also reduces immune response and leaves a smoker much more susceptible to upper respiratory infection. In addition to preventing asthma attacks, quitting smoking will reduce your risk of cancer, heart disease, and many other conditions, as well as save you money.

Nonsmokers who live with a smoker are no better off. Secondhand smoke is particularly harmful to children and teenagers. So if there's someone in your household who won't quit smoking, ask that individual to take his or her habit outdoors.

Weather the weather. Pay attention to how changes in the weather affect your asthma. You might even keep an "asthma journal" by recording the temperature, wind velocity, barometric pressure, and humidity on days when you suffer attacks. Knowing what types of weather conditions can leave you gasping for air can help you avoid problems. While each person responds to weather differently, some general trends may be noted.

For instance, people with asthma should stay indoors when it is very cold outside, since a rush of cold air can cause a spasm in the bronchial tubes. Stay indoors if the wind is strong, too. While gusts of wind can blow pollution and smog away, they can also blow pollen in your direction. If you enjoy walking in the rain, you're in luck, because rain tends to wash away roving allergens, pollutants, and irritants.

Watch what you eat. The question of whether foods trigger asthma has yet to be answered. Some foods, such as nuts, shellfish, milk, eggs, chocolate, sodas, and strawberries, can result in an array of allergic responses, including asthma symptoms. Sulfites in wine can have a similar effect. An attack that's precipitated by a certain food will most likely occur within an hour of ingesting it.

Existing scientific evidence suggests that food allergies are probably not a major trigger for chronic asthma in adults. Nonetheless, you may have noticed that certain foods worsen your symptoms. If so, it's best to limit or avoid foods that aren't necessary for a balanced, nutritious diet. (Ask your doctor if you're not sure.)


Allergies to certain types of food, especially milk and wheat, are more often a trigger of asthma in children. If milk and wheat seem to be causing problems for your child with asthma, eliminate these foods from his or her diet. Check labels, and avoid foods that list milk, milk solids, casein, whey, or caseinate as ingredients. (Talk to your family doctor about alternate dietary sources of nutrients such as calcium.)

Eating away from home can sometimes be a problem. If you are invited to dinner and don't know what meal will be served, eat something at home before you leave so you won't be left hungry should the main course be a trigger food for you. If you are eating in a restaurant, inquire about the ingredients in the dish you want to order.

No matter where you have your meal, don't overeat, don't eat too fast, and don't talk while you are eating. Steer clear of alcohol, too, especially if you are taking medications for your asthma. One final reminder: Avoid so-called cytotoxicity tests and similar methods that promise to root out hidden food allergies and cure asthma.

Protect your health. A problem in the upper airways, such as a respiratory infection, can cause trouble in the lower airways (the bronchial tubes) and precipitate an asthma attack. While taking steps to avoid getting sick makes sense for everyone, maintaining good health can dramatically reduce the frequency and intensity of asthma attacks.

Stay away from people who have a cold or the flu, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid getting overtired; otherwise, you will be more susceptible to infections. It's a good idea for asthmatics to get a flu shot each year. If, despite your best efforts, you do develop an infection, see your doctor; early use of antibiotics, when appropriate, can be quite helpful.

Avoid chemicals. Any number of chemicals can trigger an asthma attack in susceptible people, whether it's chemical fumes, such as from paint or perfume, or chemical additives, such as the sufites that are used as preservatives in food. Keep your distance from these chemicals whenever possible.

Avoid aspirin and certain drugs.
Some people with asthma are sensitive to some drugs, especially aspirin and nonsteriodal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). Play it safe and avoid aspirin and products that contain it if you have asthma. Even if you have not experienced an asthma flare from aspirin in the past, it's possible for one to occur at any time. Keep aspirin out of your medicine chest, and check labels on every over-the-counter drug that you purchase. Avoid those that list "aspirin" and those that contain the initials "ASA," "APC," or "PAC;" ask your pharmacist if you are unsure if the medication you want to purchase contains aspirin.

According to an expert report from the National Asthma Education Program, people with asthma should also stay away from certain NSAIDs (ibuprofen is one such medication) that have effects similar to aspirin's. Opt instead for such "usually safe alternatives" as acetaminophen, sodium salicylate, or disalcid. For a list of precautions to take when using over-the-counter painkillers,
click here
.

You may also need to avoid tartrazine (yellow food dye #5), which is found in a number of soft drinks, cake mixes, candies, and some medications, if it aggravates your asthma.

Take a deep breath. Inhaling through the mouth often produces shallow, unsatisfying breaths that can resemble panting. Practice inhaling slowly through the nose in a controlled way, instead. Before you start breathing exercises, blow your nose to make sure that your air passages are clear of foreign matter. Then sit in a chair in a comfortable position. Take a deep breath and feel your breath going as far down as possible. Your abdomen should expand as you do this exercise. Exhale slowly, feeling your abdomen relax as your breath comes out of your nose. Repeat this exercise at least three times a day (but never right after eating and never in a hurry, which may trigger hyperventilation).


Exercise your options. For years, people with asthma have been told to avoid exercise because it would induce attacks. Research has shown, however, that getting regular aerobic exercise increases the amount of huffing and puffing an asthmatic can tolerate. Start by warming up with light exercise before a more vigorous workout. Begin with short workouts and gradually increase them.

At least at first, keep a bronchodilator with you. If you feel tightness in your chest and can't work through it, use the device. If you are out in cold or dry air, wear a scarf around your nose and mouth to heat the air before breathing it in. Cool down with light exercise at the end of your workout. If one type of exercise still brings on attacks, try another form of exercise. You may not be able to tolerate running, for example, but you may be able to swim regularly.


Keep your weight down. Exertion causes overweight people to breathe more deeply, forcing their hearts to work extra hard supplying blood to the muscles and organs. If you are overweight, losing weight will ease your heart's burden; unfortunately, asthma medications can cause you to pack on pounds. If you need to lose some pounds, you and your doctor should work together to establish a diet and exercise plan that will help you burn more calories and reduce your calorie intake without depriving you of necessary nutrients.

Mind your mind. The notion that asthma is "all in your head" has gone the way of many medical myths. However, doctors believe that asthma is an illness with both physical and emotional aspects. For example, asthma attacks can be triggered by emotional changes, such as laughing or crying, or by stress. While you may not be able to "think away" an asthma attack, keeping your mind at ease may prevent you from panicking at the onset of an asthma attack, which will make a bout with breathing trouble less scary. Develop an upbeat mind-set by committing yourself to feeling better. A positive attitude works wonders to enhance your other coping methods. In addition, be forthright about your asthma; others will respect your directness and, in most cases, try to make things easier for you.

Learn to relax. Since stress and emotional upsets can trigger or aggravate asthma attacks, it may be helpful to set aside time each day, preferably the same time, to practice some form of relaxation.

Natural Home Remedies for Asthma

Although there are many medical ways to help asthma sufferers breathe easier, experts recommend combining certain natural home remedies with prescription anti-inflammatories and bronchodilators. Here are some helpful remedies right from the kitchen.

Home Remedies From the Cupboard

Coffee. The caffeine in regular coffee can help prevent and control asthma attacks. Researchers have found that regular coffee drinkers have one-third fewer asthma symptoms than those who don't drink the hot stuff. The reason? Caffeine has bronchodilating effects. In fact, caffeine was one of the main anti-asthmatic drugs during the nineteenth century. Don't load up on java, though -- three cups a day will provide the maximum benefit -- and don't give coffee to children with asthma.

Onions. Onions are loaded with anti-inflammatory properties. Studies have shown that these properties can reduce the constriction of the airways in an asthma attack. Raw onions are generally too irritating, but eating cooked onions may help to lessen asthma attacks.

Home Remedies From the Drawer

Cheesecloth. Put a fine cheesecloth over each room's heat outlet. This homemade dust filter can help by catching dust, animal dander, and pollen before it's recirculated into the air. Stick-on commercial filters are also available. And don't forget the number one most effective home aid -- scrupulous cleaning. It's not easy, but being a bit obsessive about keeping a clean house goes a long way toward helping to alleviate asthma symptoms.

Home Remedies From the Refrigerator

Chili peppers. Hot foods such as chili peppers open up airways. Experts believe this happens because peppers stimulate fluids in the mouth, throat, and lungs. The increase in fluids thins out the mucus formed during an asthma attack so it can be coughed up, making breathing easier. Capsaicin, the stuff that makes hot peppers hot, acts as an anti-inflammatory when eaten


©2007 Publications International, Ltd.
Eating hot foods like chili peppers may help you breathe easier.

Orange juice. Vitamin C is the main antioxidant in the lining of the bronchi and bronchioles. Research discovered that people with asthma had low levels of vitamin C; eating foods that had at least 300 mg of vitamin C a day -- equivalent to about three glasses of orange juice -- cut wheezing by 30 percent. Other foods high in vitamin C include red bell pepper, papaya, broccoli, blueberries, and strawberries.

Salmon. Fatty fish such as sardines, salmon, mackerel, and tuna contain omega-3 fatty acids. These fatty acids seem to help the lungs react better to irritants in people who have asthma and may even help prevent asthma in people who have never had an attack. Studies have found that kids who eat fish more than once a week have one-third the risk of getting asthma, as compared to children who don't eat fish. And researchers discovered that people who took fish oil supplements, equivalent to eating 8 ounces of mackerel a day, increased their body's ability to avoid a severe asthma attack by 50 percent.

Yogurt. Vitamin B12 can alleviate the symptoms of asthma, and it seems to be even more effective in asthma sufferers who are sensitive to sulfite. Studies have found that taking 1 to 4 micrograms (mcg) works best as protection against asthma attacks. The current RDA for vitamin B12 is 2.4 mcg for adults. One cup of yogurt has 1.4 mcg of the lung-loving vitamin.

Home Remedies From the Spice Rack

Peppermint extract. This is a folk remedy for a homemade vaporizer: Put 1 quart nonchlorinated water in a stainless steel, glass, or enamel pan, and put it on the stove. Add 10 drops peppermint extract or peppermint oil, and bring to a boil. Let it simmer for about 1 hour, until all the water is gone. The volatile oil will saturate the room air.

Home Remedies Do's and Don'ts

Don't overload your salt intake. Salt tends to make the airways more sensitive to triggers.

Do consider a high-quality vegan diet. Getting rid of animal products in the diet helps asthma by eliminating many food allergens (cow's milk, for example). Remember, though, that vegan diets can be deficient in protein and B12, which can be especially risky for kids and pregnant or lactating women. You might consider seeking the help of a nutritionist or dietician to help you plan a vegan diet.




 
Courtesy of Amazing Allergist.com

 

Q: What is an allergy?

A: When our body’s immune mechanisms overreact to exposure, it is called an allergy. For
example, when a person without allergies to tree pollen inhales the pollen, there is no response.
If Jack inhales tree pollen, his body will overreact to the pollen and have an allergic response,
making him sneeze and have watery eyes, a runny nose, etc.

Q: Is allergy suggestive of a weak immune system?

A: No. The immune system protects us from getting infections and helps clear them once we are
exposed to germs. When the immune system gets over activated in response to other exposures
like pollen, it is considered an allergy. So, in simple terms, allergy is an overactive immune system
and not a weak immune system.

Q: What are allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis?

A: Rhinitis simply means the inflammation of the nose, and conjunctivitis is the inflammation of
the eyes. When this is related to allergic response, it is labeled so. When the nose and the eyes are
exposed to the allergy triggers, they produce chemicals under their lining. This makes them red
and swollen, or inflamed. This inflammation is the reason for all the symptoms. Someone may
have more involvement of the nose or the eyes than the other.

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis?

A: You can have one, many, or all of these common signs and symptoms: runny nose, sneezing,
itchy nose, red nose, swelling inside the nose, congestion, stuffy nose, mouth breathing, snoring,
sinus pressure, headaches, nasal tone, horizontal line on the outside of the nose, nosebleeds,
throat clearing, itchy throat, postnasal drip, itchy ears, fatigue, not feeling well, itchy eyes,
tearing, red eyes, swollen eyes, feeling of sand in the eyes, light sensitivity, cough. Symptoms of
the eyes or nose can be present in the absence of other symptoms.

If you know what triggers your allergy symptoms, either through observation, diary or with confirmation through skin tests or blood tests, the next thing is to take steps to minimize the exposure. As you know, there are things that can be done to reduce the need for allergy medications. The primary aim is to avoid the exposure to your allergy triggers to the extent possible.

Q: How do we avoid dust mites?

A: Dust mites are microscopic creatures found mainly in the mattress, pillows, and spaces that
collect dust. You can reduce your exposure significantly by encasing the pillows, mattress, and
box spring with dust mite barrier covers with zippers. Reducing the clutter, especially in the
bedroom, and removing stuffed toys can be very helpful.

Q: What can we do for pets?

A: The best solution is to find another home for your pet. If this is not possible, at least do not
allow pets in the bedroom, have someone wash the pets frequently, and consider air purifiers.
Also, washing hands and changing clothes after direct pet exposure can be helpful.

Q: Is there any way to reduce pollen exposure?

A: Keeping the bedroom windows closed and car windows rolled up during the high pollen
season can reduce exposure. Planning outdoor activities around the low pollen count and taking a
shower, washing hair, and changing clothes after outdoor exposure can help.

Q: What are the nondrug supportive methods?

A: Avoidance of allergen exposure is the beginning. Washing nose, sinuses, and eyes with saline
can remove allergens and restore normal functions. Some of the nutritional supplements and
herbs used under professional guidance can reduce the need for medications. Some nasal and
breathing exercises and facial massage and posturing are showing promising results in reducing
symptoms and draining secretions. You can use our Nose Mask Filters to block airborne particles to enter to your nostril

If you can not reduce or come off the allergy medications, you are likely a candidate for allergy vaccination (also known as “allergy shots” or allergen immunotherapy).

 

Storm “Sandy” is Gone – What to Expect with Allergy – Asthma

As mother nature has once again re-validated her power through torrential rains, powerful winds and winter blizzard through “superstorm Sandy”, we are not only left with damaged properties, infrastructure but also with the renewed resolve to re-build. The immediate threat of danger has gone but also has left us with many potential health risks to deal with. Let’s prepare to prevent and minimize some of these, from allergy and asthma perspective.

Some of the general concerns:

1, Falling objects when returning to damaged homes.
2, Electricity risks from down power lines and damaged appliances and home wiring.
3, Carbon monoxide poisoning from using indoor heating and generators.
4, Gas leakage, fire hazard and explosions.
5, Water borne illnesses from contaminated water supply.
6, Health risks from consuming perishable food, such as eggs, milk, meat, fish – that’s been in a refrigerator without power.

Potential triggers for our patients and families with allergies and asthma:

1, Big storms can also boost concentrations of pollen and mold, two major allergy triggers.
2, Exposure to dust and chemicals during cleaning up.
3, Indoor gases and VOCs inside the damaged buildings.
4, Mold growth in wet walls and water damaged materials.
5, Stress of re-building life.
6, Lack of getting and using regular medications.

Simple reminders:

1, Be mindful of your environment.
2, Use masks to protect you from environmental triggers. you can buy our nose mask filter www.breathnatural.com
3, Accept the reality of life to reduce the stress.
4, Continue taking your regular medications, as prescribed.
5, Drink water from safe supply and stay hydrated.
6, Maintain well balanced diet despite the rebuilding work and stress.
7, Ask for help. Many helping hands will be happy to be of service.

Now the allergen immunotherapy is available as oral drops as well, for patients who can not commit to weekly injections in a medical setting. The oral or sublingual drops are considered safe and can be administered at home. Either form of allergen immunotherapy helps reduce and in many patients, eliminate the dependence on allergy medications.

Courtesy of Web MD medical references

Life with dust allergies -- whether they're yours or a family member's -- comes with a load of questions. For instance, might a dust allergy explain your child's never-ending cold symptoms? Here are some answers to those questions. Find out what you need to know about dust allergies, from causes to treatments.

Why Is My House so Dusty?

Every home has a few dust bunnies tucked away in a corner somewhere. Even the most pristine estate is unlikely to pass the white glove test. Dust particles quickly and easily creep under the bed or high atop a chandelier. Vigorous cleaning and forced-air heating systems can actually stir up dust and put more of it in the air, causing trouble for anyone with dust allergies. Even just a minute or two in a dusty room can trigger symptoms such as sniffling and sneezing for someone with a dust allergy.

Where Does Dust Come From?

Dust is made up of many different things. What is found in the dust in your home depends on the type of furniture you have, whether or not you have pets, where you live, and other factors.
A single piece of dust can contain flakes of dead skin from humans, pet dander, parts of fabric and lint, bits of food, pieces of dead cockroaches, even living organisms such as bacteria, fungus, mold spores, and teeny tiny critters called dust mites. A scoop of dust weighing as much as a paper clip contains as many as 19,000 dust mites.

What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are spider-like creatures that thrive and multiply in warm, moist areas. You can't see the little rascals with the naked eye, but they can cause big problems for you if you are allergic to them. They prefer places where the temperature is at or above 70 degrees and the humidity reaches 75% to 80%. They can't survive in colder, less humid settings -- they've never been seen in Antarctica and are rarely found in dry climates. In the U.S., dust mite allergies tend to get worse during July and August, when dust mite populations peak because of warmer weather.

Dust mites like to eat dead skin from pets and humans. Since flakes of skin normally fall off humans unnoticed every day, mites aren't likely to starve. An average adult sheds up to 1.5 grams of skin each day -- enough to feed a million dust mites. Flakes of dead skin work their way into carpeting, beds, and furniture, inviting dust mites in for a happy meal. Most dust mites are found inside mattresses, bedding, and upholstered furniture.

What Causes Dust Allergies?

Most people with dust allergies are actually allergic to proteins found in the waste produced by dust mites. Approximately 20 million Americans are allergic to the little bugs. The insects may be the most common cause of year-round allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, particularly in children.

Some people with dust allergies are allergic to the bits of cockroaches found in dust particles. The allergy is due to proteins in cockroach waste, saliva, and the insects' body parts. Cockroach-dust is a common problem in many older homes, particularly in the southern part of the U.S.

If you are allergic to dust mites or cockroaches, you can sneeze, sniffle, or have other allergy symptoms when you breathe in dust containing these particles. People with pet allergies will have symptoms if dust contains pet dander, and those who are allergic to molds will sniffle and sneeze if mold spores hitch a ride on a dust particle.

What Are the Symptoms of Dust Allergies?

Symptoms of dust allergies are similar to the symptoms of pollen allergies and can include:

·     red, itchy, watery eyes

·     runny, itchy, stuffy nose sneezing

How Would I Know if I Have a Dust Allergy?

Symptoms of a dust allergy can mimic a cold. However, if the sniffles and sneezing seem to linger, it's a good idea to see a doctor. If you have a dust mite allergy, you could develop a pet allergy or already be allergic to a dog, cat, or other animal.
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and home and work environments. The doctor can do a skin test to see if you're allergic to specific substances that might be found in dust particles. A blood test may be done to confirm any allergy that shows up on a skin test.

How Are Dust Allergies Treated?

There are three basic treatments for dust allergies:

·     targeted avoidance

·     medications

·     allergy shots

Targeted avoidance means you stay away from or limit exposure to the specific substance in dust that is triggering your allergy symptoms. This only works if testing shows you are allergic to something in dust, such as pet dander or dust mites.
Allergy drugs can help control dust allergy symptoms. Your doctor might recommend:

·     Antihistamines. These drugs relieve itching, sneezing, and watery eyes. They are available over-the-counter -- for example, Allegra and Benadryl -- or by prescription -- such as Clarinex. Some antihistamines come as nasal sprays, like the prescription Astelin, or as eye drops, such as over-the-counter OcuHist.

·     Decongestants. Decongestants help relieve nasal congestion and include over-the-counter Sudafed or Allegra-D.

·     Topical nasal steroids. These are anti-inflammatory drugs that stop the allergic reaction. They are available by prescription and include Flonase or Nasonex.

·     Leukotriene antagonist. These include drugs such as Singulair. These drugs block the effect of chemicals called leukotrienes, which are produced in response to allergies.

·     Leukotriene antagonist. These include drugs such as Singulair. These drugs block the effect of chemicals called leukotrienes, which are produced in response to allergies.

Allergy shots may be an option for some people. Ask your doctor if they make sense for you.

How Can I Reduce or Eliminate Dust?

Medical treatment can help, but the best way to control dust allergies is simple -- reduce exposure to dust. Reducing dust and killing dust mites is the first step in controlling allergy or asthma symptoms. Start in the bedroom, where you likely spend the greatest amount of time each day. If you have a dust allergy, wear a mask while cleaning.

What Can I Do to Prevent a Dust Allergy?

Here are some tips for controlling dust in the bedrooms:

·     Don't use mattress pads.

·     Place an airtight, plastic dust-proof cover around your pillows, mattress, and box springs.

·     Use pillows filled with polyester fibers instead of kapok or feathers.

·     Wash all bedding in very hot water (over 130 degrees) once a week. The water needs to be this hot to kill the dust mites. You may have to adjust the temperature on your water heater to do this. Be careful, as water this hot can be dangerous to children. If you do not want to adjust your water heater setting, take your bedding to a commercial laundromat.

Use these tips for controlling dust in other areas:

·     Clean floors and surfaces often with a damp mop or cloth.

·     Make sure bedrooms are on upper floors or not on top of concrete (such as in a basement). Concrete stays damp and creates the moist, humid environment that dust mites crave.

·     Make sure the humidity in your home is below 55%. To do this you need a machine called a hygrometer. Hardware and building supply stores often sell these devices.

·     Remove drapes and use window shades instead. If you must have curtains, wash them in hot water once a week.

·     Remove stuffed animals, soft toys, and other "dust collectors" from the home.

·     Select a home with wood or vinyl flooring. Carpeting traps dust.

·     Use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in your heating and air-conditioning unit. Change the filter every three months.

·     Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to lower humidity. High humidity triggers dust mite growth.

·     Vacuum all carpets once or twice a week. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.

·     Vacuum upholstered furniture such as sofas. If possible, choose furniture made of wood, leather, plaster, or metal.

·     Wash throw rugs in hot water.

When looking for a new home or apartment, keep these dust-control measures in mind:

If you have a severe dust allergy, you might consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood or vinyl floors. But talk to your doctor first. You may be able to treat your rug with a chemical solution to make the dust mite waste less bothersome.

 

and other chemicals as part of the immune response. This causes itching and swelling, mucus production, and in serious cases, hives and rashes, as well as other symptoms. Symptoms vary in severity from person to person.

Most environmental allergens contact the skin or eyes, or are inhaled. Therefore, most symptoms affect the skin, eyes, or the breathing passages.

You may develop an allergic reaction to particles that may be in or outdoors. Common allergy triggers include:

· Mold -- Mold spores are carried in the air and may be present all year long. Mold is most common indoors in damp locations such as basements, bathrooms, or washrooms. Fabrics, rugs, stuffed animals, books, or wallpaper can contain mold spores if they are kept in a damp place. Outdoors, mold lives in the soil, on compost, and on damp vegetation.

· Animals -- People who are allergic to certain animals are rarely allergic to the animals' fur or feathers. They are actually allergic to the small scales of skin (dander) that the animal sheds. Some people are allergic to the animal's saliva, particularly cats. Cats have saliva that contains a protein known to cause allergy. You can come into contact with animal saliva if the pet licks you, if you touched the pet after it has groomed itself, or if you touch an object that the animal has recently licked or chewed. Similar reactions can occur with dog saliva exposure.

· Dust -- House dust contains tiny particles of pollen, mold, fibers from clothing and fabrics, detergents, and microscopic insects (mites). Dust mites, including small fragments of dead mites, are the primary cause of dust allergy and are found in the highest numbers in bedding, mattresses, and box springs.

A few people develop allergy-like symptoms to other irritants in the environment, including smoke, fumes from industries or cleaning products, tobacco, powder, and laundry detergents.

Symptoms

· Coughing

· Difficulty breathing

· Hives

· Itching of the nose, eyes, throat, or skin

· Rash

· Redness in the eyes

· Runny nose

· Sinus pressure

· Sneezing

· Tearing eyes

· Wheezing

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms. The history of symptoms is important in diagnosing allergies, including whether the symptoms vary according to time of day or the season and possible exposures such as having a pet in the household.

Allergy testing is done to see identify the specific allergens that are causing your symptoms. Skin testing is the most common and useful method.

If your doctor determines that you cannot undergo skin testing, a RAST blood test (to look for IgE antibodies to a specific allergen) may be helpful.

Having allergies may also alter the results of your white blood cell (WBC) count, particularly an eosinophil count.

Treatment

The best treatment is to avoid being around molds, dander, dust.

See the following articles for specific treatment options:

· Asthma

· Allergic rhinitis

· Atopic eczema

· Allergic conjunctivitis

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are occasionally recommended if the substance you are allergic to cannot be avoided and if symptoms are hard to control.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most symptoms of allergies to mold, dander, and dust can be readily treated, and regular treatment can minimize the symptoms.

In some cases (particularly in children), people may outgrow an allergy as the immune system becomes less sensitive to the allergen. However, as a general rule, once a substance causes allergies for an individual, it can continue to affect the person long term.

The most severe cases of allergic rhinitis from these allergens may require allergy shots.

Complications

· Anaphylaxis (a rare but severe allergic reaction)

· Drowsiness and other side effects of antihistamines

· Frequent ear infections (otitis media) in children

· Hives or other skin rashes

· Sinus infections

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if severe symptoms of allergy occur, if previously successful treatment has become ineffective, or if symptoms do not respond to treatment.

Prevention

Breastfeeding can help prevent and decrease allergies. There is also evidence that exposures to certain allergens in the first year of life may prevent some allergies.

Mold spores are everywhere. You can reduce your exposure to mold by following these steps:

· Keep rooms dry, and use a dehumidifier, if necessary.

· Throw out moldy or mildewed articles (such as books, toys, and shoes).

· Use synthetic fabrics for clothing and household furnishings whenever possible. Disinfect bathrooms, basement walls, and furniture with diluted bleach or other disinfectant solutions.

You can take several steps to limit exposure to dust mites.

· Wrap mattresses, box springs, and pillows with mite-proof covers.

· Wash bedding and pillows once a week in hot water (130° F to 140° F).

· If you can, get rid of upholstered furniture. Try to use wooden, leather, or vinyl.

· Keep indoor air dry. Try to keep the humidity level lower than 50%.

· Wipe dust with a damp cloth and vacuum once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

· Replace wall-to-wall carpet with wood or other hard flooring.

· Keep stuffed toys off the beds, and wash them weekly.

· Replace slatted blinds and cloth draperies with pull-down shades. They will not collect as much dust.

· Keep closets clean, and keep closet doors closed.

Central heating and air-conditioning systems may be helpful, particularly if they include special filters to capture dust and animal dander. Change furnace filters frequently. Use of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are most helpful in preventing mold exposures.

People who are allergic to animals may need to avoid keeping pets. If not, keep pets outside, if possible. If pets are allowed indoors, keep them out of bedrooms, off upholstered furniture, and off carpets. Frequent bathing and grooming of the pet (preferably by someone who is not allergic to the animal) may help.

Allergy to animals may also include wool, which may contain tiny amounts of dander (skin).

-

A: No. The immune system protects us from getting infections and helps clear them once we are
exposed to germs. When the immune system gets over activated in response to other exposures
like pollen, it is considered an allergy. So, in simple terms, allergy is an overactive immune system
and not a weak immune system.

Q: What are allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis?

A: Rhinitis simply means the inflammation of the nose, and conjunctivitis is the inflammation of
the eyes. When this is related to allergic response, it is labeled so. When the nose and the eyes are
exposed to the allergy triggers, they produce chemicals under their lining. This makes them red
and swollen, or inflamed. This inflammation is the reason for all the symptoms. Someone may
have more involvement of the nose or the eyes than the other.

Q: What are the signs and symptoms of allergic rhinitis and allergic conjunctivitis?

A: You can have one, many, or all of these common signs and symptoms: runny nose, sneezing,
itchy nose, red nose, swelling inside the nose, congestion, stuffy nose, mouth breathing, snoring,
sinus pressure, headaches, nasal tone, horizontal line on the outside of the nose, nosebleeds,
throat clearing, itchy throat, postnasal drip, itchy ears, fatigue, not feeling well, itchy eyes,
tearing, red eyes, swollen eyes, feeling of sand in the eyes, light sensitivity, cough. Symptoms of
the eyes or nose can be present in the absence of other symptoms.

If you know what triggers your allergy symptoms, either through observation, diary or with confirmation through skin tests or blood tests, the next thing is to take steps to minimize the exposure. As you know, there are things that can be done to reduce the need for allergy medications. The primary aim is to avoid the exposure to your allergy triggers to the extent possible.

Q: How do we avoid dust mites?

A: Dust mites are microscopic creatures found mainly in the mattress, pillows, and spaces that
collect dust. You can reduce your exposure significantly by encasing the pillows, mattress, and
box spring with dust mite barrier covers with zippers. Reducing the clutter, especially in the
bedroom, and removing stuffed toys can be very helpful.

Q: What can we do for pets?

A: The best solution is to find another home for your pet. If this is not possible, at least do not
allow pets in the bedroom, have someone wash the pets frequently, and consider air purifiers.
Also, washing hands and changing clothes after direct pet exposure can be helpful.

Q: Is there any way to reduce pollen exposure?

A: Keeping the bedroom windows closed and car windows rolled up during the high pollen
season can reduce exposure. Planning outdoor activities around the low pollen count and taking a
shower, washing hair, and changing clothes after outdoor exposure can help.

Q: What are the nondrug supportive methods?

A: Avoidance of allergen exposure is the beginning. Washing nose, sinuses, and eyes with saline
can remove allergens and restore normal functions. Some of the nutritional supplements and
herbs used under professional guidance can reduce the need for medications. Some nasal and
breathing exercises and facial massage and posturing are showing promising results in reducing
symptoms and draining secretions. You can use our Nose Mask Filters to block airborne particles to enter to your nostril

If you can not reduce or come off the allergy medications, you are likely a candidate for allergy vaccination (also known as “allergy shots” or allergen immunotherapy).

 

As mother nature has once again re-validated her power through torrential rains, powerful winds and winter blizzard through “superstorm Sandy”, we are not only left with damaged properties, infrastructure but also with the renewed resolve to re-build. The immediate threat of danger has gone but also has left us with many potential health risks to deal with. Let’s prepare to prevent and minimize some of these, from allergy and asthma perspective.

Some of the general concerns:

1, Falling objects when returning to damaged homes.
2, Electricity risks from down power lines and damaged appliances and home wiring.
3, Carbon monoxide poisoning from using indoor heating and generators.
4, Gas leakage, fire hazard and explosions.
5, Water borne illnesses from contaminated water supply.
6, Health risks from consuming perishable food, such as eggs, milk, meat, fish – that’s been in a refrigerator without power.

Potential triggers for our patients and families with allergies and asthma:

1, Big storms can also boost concentrations of pollen and mold, two major allergy triggers.
2, Exposure to dust and chemicals during cleaning up.
3, Indoor gases and VOCs inside the damaged buildings.
4, Mold growth in wet walls and water damaged materials.
5, Stress of re-building life.
6, Lack of getting and using regular medications.

Simple reminders:

1, Be mindful of your environment.
2, Use masks to protect you from environmental triggers. you can buy our nose mask filter www.breathnatural.com
3, Accept the reality of life to reduce the stress.
4, Continue taking your regular medications, as prescribed.
5, Drink water from safe supply and stay hydrated.
6, Maintain well balanced diet despite the rebuilding work and stress.
7, Ask for help. Many helping hands will be happy to be of service.

Now the allergen immunotherapy is availble as oral drops as well, for patients who can not commit to weekly injections in a medical setting. The oral or sublingual drops are considered safe and can be administered at home. Either form of allergen immunotherapy helps reduce and in many patients, eliminate the dependence on allergy medications.

Courtesy of Web MD medical references

Life with dust allergies -- whether they're yours or a family member's -- comes with a load of questions. For instance, might a dust allergy explain your child's never-ending cold symptoms? Here are some answers to those questions. Find out what you need to know about dust allergies, from causes to treatments.

Why Is My House so Dusty?

Every home has a few dust bunnies tucked away in a corner somewhere. Even the most pristine estate is unlikely to pass the white glove test. Dust particles quickly and easily creep under the bed or high atop a chandelier. Vigorous cleaning and forced-air heating systems can actually stir up dust and put more of it in the air, causing trouble for anyone with dust allergies. Even just a minute or two in a dusty room can trigger symptoms such as sniffling and sneezing for someone with a dust allergy.

Where Does Dust Come From?

Dust is made up of many different things. What is found in the dust in your home depends on the type of furniture you have, whether or not you have pets, where you live, and other factors.
A single piece of dust can contain flakes of dead skin from humans, pet dander, parts of fabric and lint, bits of food, pieces of dead cockroaches, even living organisms such as bacteria, fungus, mold spores, and teeny tiny critters called dust mites. A scoop of dust weighing as much as a paper clip contains as many as 19,000 dust mites.

What Are Dust Mites?

Dust mites are spider-like creatures that thrive and multiply in warm, moist areas. You can't see the little rascals with the naked eye, but they can cause big problems for you if you are allergic to them. They prefer places where the temperature is at or above 70 degrees and the humidity reaches 75% to 80%. They can't survive in colder, less humid settings -- they've never been seen in Antarctica and are rarely found in dry climates. In the U.S., dust mite allergies tend to get worse during July and August, when dust mite populations peak because of warmer weather.

Dust mites like to eat dead skin from pets and humans. Since flakes of skin normally fall off humans unnoticed every day, mites aren't likely to starve. An average adult sheds up to 1.5 grams of skin each day -- enough to feed a million dust mites. Flakes of dead skin work their way into carpeting, beds, and furniture, inviting dust mites in for a happy meal. Most dust mites are found inside mattresses, bedding, and upholstered furniture.

What Causes Dust Allergies?

Most people with dust allergies are actually allergic to proteins found in the waste produced by dust mites. Approximately 20 million Americans are allergic to the little bugs. The insects may be the most common cause of year-round allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms, particularly in children.

Some people with dust allergies are allergic to the bits of cockroaches found in dust particles. The allergy is due to proteins in cockroach waste, saliva, and the insects' body parts. Cockroach-dust is a common problem in many older homes, particularly in the southern part of the U.S.

If you are allergic to dust mites or cockroaches, you can sneeze, sniffle, or have other allergy symptoms when you breathe in dust containing these particles. People with pet allergies will have symptoms if dust contains pet dander, and those who are allergic to molds will sniffle and sneeze if mold spores hitch a ride on a dust particle.

What Are the Symptoms of Dust Allergies?

Symptoms of dust allergies are similar to the symptoms of pollen allergies and can include:

  • red, itchy, watery eyes
  • runny, itchy, stuffy nose sneezing

How Would I Know if I Have a Dust Allergy?

Symptoms of a dust allergy can mimic a cold. However, if the sniffles and sneezing seem to linger, it's a good idea to see a doctor. If you have a dust mite allergy, you could develop a pet allergy or already be allergic to a dog, cat, or other animal.
Your doctor will ask questions about your symptoms and home and work environments. The doctor can do a skin test to see if you're allergic to specific substances that might be found in dust particles. A blood test may be done to confirm any allergy that shows up on a skin test.

How Are Dust Allergies Treated?

There are three basic treatments for dust allergies:

  • targeted avoidance
  • medications
  • allergy shots

Targeted avoidance means you stay away from or limit exposure to the specific substance in dust that is triggering your allergy symptoms. This only works if testing shows you are allergic to something in dust, such as pet dander or dust mites.
Allergy drugs can help control dust allergy symptoms. Your doctor might recommend:

  • Antihistamines. These drugs relieve itching, sneezing, and watery eyes. They are available over-the-counter -- for example, Allegra and Benadryl -- or by prescription -- such as Clarinex. Some antihistamines come as nasal sprays, like the prescription Astelin, or as eye drops, such as over-the-counter OcuHist.
  • Decongestants. Decongestants help relieve nasal congestion and include over-the-counter Sudafed or Allegra-D.
  • Topical nasal steroids. These are anti-inflammatory drugs that stop the allergic reaction. They are available by prescription and include Flonase or Nasonex.
  • Leukotriene antagonist. These include drugs such as Singulair. These drugs block the effect of chemicals called leukotrienes, which are produced in response to allergies.
  • Leukotriene antagonist. These include drugs such as Singulair. These drugs block the effect of chemicals called leukotrienes, which are produced in response to allergies.

Allergy shots may be an option for some people. Ask your doctor if they make sense for you.

How Can I Reduce or Eliminate Dust?

Medical treatment can help, but the best way to control dust allergies is simple -- reduce exposure to dust. Reducing dust and killing dust mites is the first step in controlling allergy or asthma symptoms. Start in the bedroom, where you likely spend the greatest amount of time each day. If you have a dust allergy, wear a mask while cleaning.

What Can I Do to Prevent a Dust Allergy?

Here are some tips for controlling dust in the bedrooms:

  • Don't use mattress pads.
  • Place an airtight, plastic dust-proof cover around your pillows, mattress, and box springs.
  • Use pillows filled with polyester fibers instead of kapok or feathers.
  • Wash all bedding in very hot water (over 130 degrees) once a week. The water needs to be this hot to kill the dust mites. You may have to adjust the temperature on your water heater to do this. Be careful, as water this hot can be dangerous to children. If you do not want to adjust your water heater setting, take your bedding to a commercial laundromat.

Use these tips for controlling dust in other areas:

  • Clean floors and surfaces often with a damp mop or cloth.
  • Make sure bedrooms are on upper floors or not on top of concrete (such as in a basement). Concrete stays damp and creates the moist, humid environment that dust mites crave.
  • Make sure the humidity in your home is below 55%. To do this you need a machine called a hygrometer. Hardware and building supply stores often sell these devices.
  • Remove drapes and use window shades instead. If you must have curtains, wash them in hot water once a week.
  • Remove stuffed animals, soft toys, and other "dust collectors" from the home.
  • Select a home with wood or vinyl flooring. Carpeting traps dust.
  • Use a high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in your heating and air-conditioning unit. Change the filter every three months.
  • Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to lower humidity. High humidity triggers dust mite growth.
  • Vacuum all carpets once or twice a week. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  • Vacuum upholstered furniture such as sofas. If possible, choose furniture made of wood, leather, plaster, or metal.
  • Wash throw rugs in hot water.

When looking for a new home or apartment, keep these dust-control measures in mind:

If you have a severe dust allergy, you might consider replacing wall-to-wall carpeting with hardwood or vinyl floors. But talk to your doctor first. You may be able to treat your rug with a chemical solution to make the dust mite waste less bothersome.

 

and other chemicals as part of the immune response. This causes itching and swelling, mucus production, and in serious cases, hives and rashes, as well as other symptoms. Symptoms vary in severity from person to person.

Most environmental allergens contact the skin or eyes, or are inhaled. Therefore, most symptoms affect the skin, eyes, or the breathing passages.

You may develop an allergic reaction to particles that may be in or outdoors. Common allergy triggers include:

  • Mold -- Mold spores are carried in the air and may be present all year long. Mold is most common indoors in damp locations such as basements, bathrooms, or washrooms. Fabrics, rugs, stuffed animals, books, or wallpaper can contain mold spores if they are kept in a damp place. Outdoors, mold lives in the soil, on compost, and on damp vegetation.

  • Animals -- People who are allergic to certain animals are rarely allergic to the animals' fur or feathers. They are actually allergic to the small scales of skin (dander) that the animal sheds. Some people are allergic to the animal's saliva, particularly cats. Cats have saliva that contains a protein known to cause allergy. You can come into contact with animal saliva if the pet licks you, if you touched the pet after it has groomed itself, or if you touch an object that the animal has recently licked or chewed. Similar reactions can occur with dog saliva exposure.

  • Dust -- House dust contains tiny particles of pollen, mold, fibers from clothing and fabrics, detergents, and microscopic insects (mites). Dust mites, including small fragments of dead mites, are the primary cause of dust allergy and are found in the highest numbers in bedding, mattresses, and box springs.

A few people develop allergy-like symptoms to other irritants in the environment, including smoke, fumes from industries or cleaning products, tobacco, powder, and laundry detergents.

Symptoms

  • Coughing

  • Difficulty breathing

  • Hives

  • Itching of the nose, eyes, throat, or skin

  • Rash

  • Redness in the eyes

  • Runny nose

  • Sinus pressure

  • Sneezing

  • Tearing eyes

  • Wheezing

Signs and tests

The doctor will perform a physical exam and ask you questions about your symptoms. The history of symptoms is important in diagnosing allergies, including whether the symptoms vary according to time of day or the season and possible exposures such as having a pet in the household.

Allergy testing is done to see identify the specific allergens that are causing your symptoms. Skin testing is the most common and useful method.

If your doctor determines that you cannot undergo skin testing, a RAST blood test (to look for IgE antibodies to a specific allergen) may be helpful.

Having allergies may also alter the results of your white blood cell (WBC) count, particularly an eosinophil count.

Treatment

The best treatment is to avoid being around molds, dander, dust.

See the following articles for specific treatment options:

Allergy shots (immunotherapy) are occasionally recommended if the substance you are allergic to cannot be avoided and if symptoms are hard to control.

Expectations (prognosis)

Most symptoms of allergies to mold, dander, and dust can be readily treated, and regular treatment can minimize the symptoms.

In some cases (particularly in children), people may outgrow an allergy as the immune system becomes less sensitive to the allergen. However, as a general rule, once a substance causes allergies for an individual, it can continue to affect the person long term.

The most severe cases of allergic rhinitis from these allergens may require allergy shots.

Complications

  • Anaphylaxis (a rare but severe allergic reaction)

  • Drowsiness and other side effects of antihistamines

  • Frequent ear infections (otitis media) in children

  • Hives or other skin rashes

  • Sinus infections

Calling your health care provider

Call your health care provider if severe symptoms of allergy occur, if previously successful treatment has become ineffective, or if symptoms do not respond to treatment.

Prevention

Breastfeeding can help prevent and decrease allergies. There is also evidence that exposures to certain allergens in the first year of life may prevent some allergies.

Mold spores are everywhere. You can reduce your exposure to mold by following these steps:

  • Keep rooms dry, and use a dehumidifier, if necessary.

  • Throw out moldy or mildewed articles (such as books, toys, and shoes).

  • Use synthetic fabrics for clothing and household furnishings whenever possible. Disinfect bathrooms, basement walls, and furniture with diluted bleach or other disinfectant solutions.

You can take several steps to limit exposure to dust mites.

  • Wrap mattresses, box springs, and pillows with mite-proof covers.

  • Wash bedding and pillows once a week in hot water (130° F to 140° F).

  • If you can, get rid of upholstered furniture. Try to use wooden, leather, or vinyl.

  • Keep indoor air dry. Try to keep the humidity level lower than 50%.

  • Wipe dust with a damp cloth and vacuum once a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.

  • Replace wall-to-wall carpet with wood or other hard flooring.

  • Keep stuffed toys off the beds, and wash them weekly.

  • Replace slatted blinds and cloth draperies with pull-down shades. They will not collect as much dust.

  • Keep closets clean, and keep closet doors closed.

Central heating and air-conditioning systems may be helpful, particularly if they include special filters to capture dust and animal dander. Change furnace filters frequently. Use of high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filters are most helpful in preventing mold exposures.

People who are allergic to animals may need to avoid keeping pets. If not, keep pets outside, if possible. If pets are allowed indoors, keep them out of bedrooms, off upholstered furniture, and off carpets. Frequent bathing and grooming of the pet (preferably by someone who is not allergic to the animal) may help.

Allergy to animals may also include wool, which may contain tiny amounts of dander (skin).