Fighting allergens in your home can feel like a losing battle during the summer months. You’ll finish cleaning an area only to find dirt and pollen left from the outdoor play of kids and pets. Not only is this chore frustrating, but it can also make the fun summer months a breathing nightmare. Fortunately, you can find several ways to reduce allergens and keep your home cleaner. Follow the three steps below to stop the spread of allergies and deter more dust and pollen from entering your home.
Stop Allergens From Entering Your Home
Image via Flickr by gregoriosz
Are you inviting allergies into your home through the front door? By limiting how far the outside makes it into your home, you can prevent pollen from getting to your bedrooms and living room. First, stop kids and pets as soon as they come inside. Ask your kids to take off their shoes and wipe down the paws of your pets. Not only will this routine catch pollen, but it will also keep your floors cleaner. Next, ask your kids to change into indoor clothes and leave their outdoor clothes by the door or by the laundry area. Installing a floor mat and shoe rack can also cut down on the amount of outdoor allergens tracked inside.
Change Your HVAC System Air Filter Regularly One of the main culprits of allergens spreading through the home is your home’s HVAC system. Pollen, dirt, and dust spread through ductwork and make breathing in bedrooms and common areas difficult. Many experts recommend changing your air filter once a month, so you’ll want to buy replacement filters in bulk and set yourself reminders to change them. If you’re particularly sensitive to allergies, consider upgrading your air filter to catch more particles.
If you don’t change your air filter monthly, consider changing it every month around a major holiday. If you change your air filters on Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter, Fourth of July, and Halloween, you’ll get close to changing the filter every other month. Your replacement schedule doesn’t have to be perfect, but you don’t want to go six months without an air filter change.
Strategically Clean Your Home Your bedroom is one of the worst offenders for allergy creation. Your bedsheets create dust mites which then pool in hard-to-reach places such as under the bed. To remove this dust, you need to clean strategically. For example, always start by dusting. Even if you use damp cloths to collect the dust, a large amount of dust will get pushed into the air.
Dust everything and let these particles settle before you vacuum and strip your bedsheets. If you throw your sheets into the wash and then dust, you could be letting allergens settle on your mattress before covering the mattress with your clean sheets. By planning your course of attack against allergens in your home, you’ll be ready to remove as many dust particles as possible. You can’t totally prevent dust from forming in your home or keep out all pollen and dirt. However, by following the steps listed above and getting creative with dust-removal techniques, you can turn your home into an allergen-reduced haven for your family.
Indoor allergens can cause problems for your family year-round. Chronic sinus inflammation, skin issues, or even behavioral problems can often be attributed to allergies, and the symptoms can interfere with the quality of your sleep and your daily life. If you want to control your symptoms without the side effects of medication, you’ll need to eliminate the source of the problem. Here are the most likely culprits and some tips for combatting them.
Dust and Dust Mites
Image via Flickr by tinafranklindg One of the most common, and often overlooked, sources of allergy symptoms is probably collecting around your baseboards and on top of your window frames. Dust is made up of minuscule bits of plants, dirt, fibers, insects, skin, and other matter, any one of which could be triggering your allergies. Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in dust, and their droppings are the most common source of asthma and allergy symptoms. They love dead human skin flakes and humidity and tend to settle in your bedding and rugs. The biggest step to combat dust in your home is encasing your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers. Keep dust down by washing your bedding regularly and vacuuming rugs thoroughly with a HEPA vacuum. Have your ducts professionally cleaned to remove any dust mite nests lurking there, treat your drapes and upholstery with a dust mite treatment, and install a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture content in your indoor air.
Pet Dander Contrary to popular belief, pet dander is not animal hair, but a protein that comes from the pet’s saliva. It’s a sticky substance that coats the hair and can also cling to people’s clothing and shoes, so dander is often present even in homes without pets. If you are allergic to your best friend, there are some ways to minimize your suffering. Keep pets out of your bedroom and restrict them to rooms without carpeting if possible. Bathe your pets often and wash your hands after touching them. If you can’t keep your animals off your upholstered furniture, at least give them towels to lie on and wash those frequently.
Mold Preventing mold is mostly a matter of controlling moisture in your home. Repair leaks promptly, waterproof your basement if necessary, and keep your gutters in good repair. Fix any ventilation issues that cause moisture to collect in your bathrooms or kitchen. Encourage airflow throughout your home by opening doors and installing ceiling fans as needed. If your home is prone to mold or mildew issues, a dehumidifier would be a good investment.
Cockroaches Like dust mites, the real problem with cockroaches is the droppings, which contain a protein that is a common allergen. If you choose not to use chemicals to control cockroaches, you can discourage them by sealing up cracks in walls, cabinets, doors, and cupboards. Take your trash out often and keep the kitchen floor clean of crumbs and spills that might feed them. Controlling allergens in your home can feel daunting at first, but once you’ve tackled a few initial tasks, the maintenance work will be fairly simple.
Spring and summer are the worst times of the year, if you have allergies. Many people suffer from symptoms that range from itchy and watery eyes, congested sinuses that can lead to headaches, and sneezing. Millions of people worldwide have seasonal allergies, and many of them turn to either Claritin, Benadryl, or other chemical allergy relief options. These options have a lot of side effects. Antihistamines are what Claritin and other popular allergy medications have in them that will make one out of every five users drowsy, even if they are marketed not to. In other people, these medications are ineffective and can lead to people to turn to the allergy shots.
However, there are many, different natural options for allergy relief. Not all these remedies will work for everyone, as we are all different. You may have to try a few options before you find one that works. You should not give up on an option only after one use. Your body will need some time to adjust, especially if you have used many of the over the counter allergy relief medications in the past.
If you are looking for natural allergy remedies, here are the most popular options.
Neti pots are an important part of Ayurvedic medical treatment of allergens and other sinus irritants, and have been used for centuries in India. While Neti pots are still not popular with many people, the medical community has more than welcomed them to the market. There are several studies that were conducted by David Rabago, MD that have clinically proven that the use of a neti pot is both an effective method to prevent and treat a number of upper respiratory conditions. These conditions include acute and chronic sinusitis, seasonal allergies and the common cold.
When you are using a Neti Pot, you need to make sure that the water has been distilled and is as sterile as possible. Most tap waters are full of fluoride and chlorine. Fluoride and chlorine are able to aggravate your sinuses even more. If you do not have a Neti pot, and do not want to buy one, you can still use a salt water rinse to clean your sinuses. To do this you will need to mix sea salt with warm water, and suck the mixture up one nostril at a time.
Apple Cider Vinegar
Apple cider vinegar is available just about everywhere. When you are looking for apple cider vinegar to treat allergies, you should look for one that is certified organic, GMO-free, raw or not pasteurized, and unfiltered to make sure that you are getting all the benefits of the apple cider vinegar.
To treat allergies with apple cider vinegar, try drinking a glass of water with a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and some fresh lemon juice every morning. This is also a better way to starting the morning than coffee, as it helps give your digestive system a jump-start for the day. Another method is to use a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar in a Neti pot solution at the first sign on an allergy attack.
Local Raw Honey
Eating local raw honey can seem too easy as it is so sweet; however, honey is one of the oldest natural remedies. A tablespoon of local raw honey each and every day can help your body build up the tolerance to the local area’s pollen that is causing your sinus problems.
In 2011, The International Archives of Allergy and Immunology published an article that tested how pre-seasonal use of birch pollen honey affected people that had birch pollen allergies. It was found that the use of the honey actually lowered the total symptom score by 60 percent. The users also used 50 percent less antihistamine than the control group who only used conventional methods of allergy treatments.
Stinging Nettle medical uses can be dated back to medieval Europe. During this time period, stinging nettle was to relieve people of their joint pain. Now, stinging nettle has been studied and suggested to be able to treat a wide range of health concerns, by the University Of Maryland Medical Center. They have found stinging nettle to be able to help with:
-Urinary problems, including urinary tract infection
-Benign prostatic hyperplasia
-Joint pain, strains and sprains
Research on stinging nettle has shown specifically that nettle leaf is able to naturally control the histamine. This is why more doctors have taken to recommending a freeze-dried preparation of nettle leaf before hay fever season starts. Nettle leaf can also be used to make a tea.
Eucalyptus oil can be used for seasonal allergy relief in a number of different ways. Eucalyptus oil can be added to a Neti pot. You can also inhale the eucalyptus oil from a diffuser, or you can add a few drops of eucalyptus oil to your laundry detergent as antimicrobial agent.
One of the studies about eucalyptus oil that was done is Egypt found that various essential oils were able to kill many of the highly allergic house mites. The study found that eucalyptus oil is one of the most potent essential oils.
Eucalyptus oil can be a great biodegradable addition to your natural detergents, you can add 25 drops of the oil to each load of wash during the allergy season to keep the allergies at bay. This can help if you or your children spend a lot of time outside during allergy season.
If you are having strong allergy symptoms, try mixing eucalyptus oils with coconut oil. You can then rub the mixture on your chest, and behind the ears. The mixture will diffuse the scent of the oil during the day, or when you are sleeping.
Butterbur is not related to butterbeer, even if they do sound similar. Butterburs name comes from what the plant was used for in the past. The large leaves were used to wrap butter. Nowadays, butterbur extracts are used to treat fever, headaches, and nasal allergies. Butterbur is able to block the chemicals that cause the swelling in the nasal passage. During 2002, a study was done on 125 patients and stated that butterbur had similar effects to the antihistamine that were on the market; however, butterbur did not have the drowsiness side effect. Butterbur can be bought in tablets at many health food stores, or you can buy butterbur leaves to make tea from.
Hot showers do not just help clear your sinuses for a short time. The American Academy of Allergy Asthma and Immunology has found if you are able to a shower right after you enter your home, you lower the amount of pollen inside your home. The shower and the change of clothing also gets all the pollen off of your skin.
Quercetin are naturally found in green teas, citrus fruit, onion/shallots, and cruciferous vegetables. Quercetin is a type of bioflavonoid that stabilizes the release of histamine, and is able to help control allergy symptoms.
There are a number of sources that suggest the best use of quercetins is for a long term allergy remedy. If you are prone to seasonal allergies, you should increase the amount of quercetin that is in your diet a few weeks before your allergy season starts. For many people, allergy season starts a few weeks before the beginning of spring, when the flowers and trees starting to bloom.
Living with allergies is no fun, and with everyone dealing with different triggers of their allergies, it can be hard to pin-point one method that works the best for everyone. Many people still think that the best way of treating their allergies is to take over the counter medications, which have many, different side effects. If you have tried a natural method in the past, and it did not work, you shouldn’t discount all the natural remedies out there. Remember that natural remedies take time to work and for your body to adjust to them, so give each option a few weeks to see if it works. You can also combine a few different natural remedies for a better solution for your allergies, until like over the counter medications.
When a member of the family suffers from food or seasonal allergies, managing symptoms and reducing the likelihood of contact with known allergens is of the utmost importance. Fortunately, modern technology offers a slew of options for doing just that, with iPhone apps available in the famed App Store to do everything from tracking pollen counts to discovering potentially problematic food ingredients to reminding sufferers to take their medication daily, just to name a few. If you or someone in your care suffers from allergies, these 10 iPhone apps may prove to be helpful.
MyFoodFacts – Grocery shopping can be a mighty undertaking when someone in the household suffers from food allergies, however this app can make the task a bit less arduous. Tech-savvy shoppers can simply snap a picture of a product’s bar code with their iPhone’s camera and MyFoodFacts will return a detailed list of potentially allergenic ingredients. Sesame seeds, tree nuts, peanuts, egg, shellfish, soy, fish, wheat, and milk are among the app’s focus, helping shoppers avoid foods that could spur potentially serious reactions.
Allergy Advisor – Something of a one-stop-shop app for those suffering from respiratory allergies, Allergy Advisor offers pollen counts and weather forecasts for a user’s area, the ability to log symptoms and triggers, special storage for medical professionals’ contact information, and treatment/prescription refill alerts. The free app is, however, supported by ASTEPRO® nasal spray.
Allergy Track – The ability to track your respiratory allergies in order to accurately report symptoms and triggers to your doctor is at your fingertips with PLB Melody’s free Allergy Track app. Logging the intensity of symptoms and monitoring allergic episodes over a significant period also makes it easier for your allergy specialist to determine the impact that your allergies have on your daily life and build an accurate allergy profile for more effective treatment.
ZocDoc – When allergic reactions require non-emergency medical attention, especially when you or an allergic family member is away from home, ZocDoc can help you locate a doctor and book an appointment easily. Entering your zip code and insurance information will return a list of doctors that are in your network and their available appointment times, and with the tap of a finger your appointment is booked!
RxMindMe Prescription – Allergies that require medication can often go untreated during hectic times simply because taking medication slips your mind. RxMindMe allows you to create profiles for several members of the family, sends notifications to remind you to take your medication or administer it to a child, and track the remaining quantity of medication you have on-hand.
Allergy Alert – Free from Pollen.com comes Allergy Alert, an app designed to update users with pollen and allergy forecasts. Environmental forecasts like an asthma index also help those with allergies or children who suffer from allergies to stay informed about environmental factors that could exacerbate the condition and increase the severity of symptoms.
iEatOut Gluten Free & Allergy Free – Ordering safe entrees from a restaurant is no easy task for those that suffer from food allergies; fortunately, iEatOut allows users to select items from a variety of ethnic cuisines that do not contain known allergens or gluten. The app also helps users communicate their needs to wait staff regarding food preparation and ingredients.
Recalls Plus – Product recalls are no laughing matter; they can, however, be hard to keep up with. Using Recalls Plus takes much of the legwork out of discovering product recalls, especially those that are related to known allergens. While the app is very useful for parents of children who suffer from allergies, it also provides valuable safety recall information as well.
Air Quality Pro – Before planning an outing or trip to the park, allergy and asthma sufferers should determine whether or not their area is under an air quality alert. Air Quality Pro monitors the air quality index in major cities around the United States and returns forecasts that include detailed information and maps.
Cook it Allergy Free – Cooking delicious, allergen-free meals at home is easier than ever with the Cook IT Allergy Free app, which makes simple work of substituting allergenic ingredients with safe alternatives. Modifying favorite recipes to make them safe for those suffering from food allergies isn’t always easy, but this app does most of the work for you. Users can also share their allergen-free custom recipes through a variety of social networking platforms.
Using these apps can make a major difference in the way that you approach and handle allergy management, but it’s important to remember that these tools, like any others, are not infallible. There’s no substitute for the advice of a medical professional or your own personal experiences, so if an app suggests that a particular item is safe and you’re not completely convinced, you should always follow your instincts and knowledge base.
Seasonal allergies seem to be getting worse every year so I have found some tips to help with seasonal allergies.
Tips for dealing with pollen:
1. It all starts with nutrition. Seasonal allergies put your immune system on alert, stressing your body and increasing the need for nutritional support. Remember the A-list: Alkalizing , Anti-inflammatory, and Antioxidant-rich.
Eat green leafy veggies and juices, lots of berries (especially blueberries), fresh fruits and vegetables. At the same time, avoid foods that produce mucus such as sugar, dairy, and wheat. Supplements such as grapeseed extract, quercetin, and vitamin C are also effective in reducing allergy symptoms.
2. Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. Seasonal allergies are brutal on the body’s ability to stay hydrated. Drink lots of water to flush your system and support the elimination of the foreign irritants in your system. Hydrating also thins out mucus and supports sinus drainage. Sinus congestion also leads to dry mouth and the decrease in the presence of protective saliva. This can lead to an increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease. Avoid beverages that contain alcohol or caffeine as they are dehydrating. The goal is to drink 8 (6-8 oz) glasses of water per day.
3. Go natural and try using nasal irrigation to cleanse and clear your sinuses. Nasal irrigation with the use of a Neti (sinus)-pot works well. You can even make your own salt water solution (try using Himalayan salt- the purest on earth with many vital minerals) with 16 oz of lukewarm purified water and 1 teaspoon of Himalayan salt (available from most natural products markets).
Acupuncture is also effective in treating headaches and neck discomfort associated with allergies. Try to avoid the use of allergy medications that suppress your immune system and have side effects like increasing blood pressure, making you feel anxious or excessively tired.
4. Here are the oldies (for allergy relief) but goodies. Do some spring cleaning. Get the dust off your furniture and vacuum your closets. Take showers at the end of the day to wash off the allergens that cling to your body and clothing and change your clothes before going to bed so that you don’t spread allergens onto your bedding.
Of course, if your symptoms are severe and these simple tips do not provide relief, consult your physician as a more serious condition, such as underlying sinus infection, may be present.