Winter Sniffles: Allergies, or the Common Cold?

Chilly November brings most of us indoors for the year – and then the sniffles start up. Symptoms like sneezing, congestion, and sore throat are common during the winter months. These unpleasant symptoms can be evidence of a winter cold, but they can also mean indoor allergies. What are the causes of these winter ailments, and how can they be identified (and treated)?

Winter weather can indirectly cause both colds and indoor allergies. Colds increase in winter because people spend more time inside, confined to small spaces where viruses and germs can be easily passed around. Also, the viruses which cause colds thrive in low-humidity environments, which are typically found in the cold dry months of winter. Low humidity, combined with air blowing from indoor heating systems, causes drying of the nasal passages, which can increase susceptibility to infection.

With indoor allergies, it's a similar story. Indoor allergies are caused by dust, which contains a wide variety of allergy-causing particles like animal dander, mold spores, pollen, dust mites and dust mite waste. Spending more time indoors means increased exposure to these allergens. Plus, indoor heating systems circulate air through the house, knocking loose many allergy causing particles on carpets, furniture, and dusty shelves.  Then, these allergens are circulated through your home, right along with the warm cozy air.  

Colds and allergies also show themselves in very similar ways, making it difficult to tell them apart. Symptoms of colds include congestion, stuffy nose, swelling of sinuses, sneezing, scratchy sore throat, headaches, aches and pains, fever, and a cough. Allergy symptoms include stuffed or runny nose, sneezing, wheezing, sore throat, watery and itchy eyes, and sometimes headaches. The main difference between cold and allergy symptoms is that colds usually come with body aches and pains and possibly a low-grade fever, while allergies do not. In addition, colds usually last 7-10 days, while allergies will persist as long as the exposure to the offending allergen continues. If you have cold-like symptoms which persist for more than two weeks, it's a good guess that you're dealing with an allergy, not a cold.

Complicating matters, frequent colds may in fact result from allergies. Your body responds to tiny allergens by producing mucus, in an attempt to expel them. However, nasal mucus is also a breeding ground for viruses and bacteria, which can cause colds and sinus infections. Treating allergies will help prevent these, which is why it's a good idea to identify allergies early and treat them accordingly.

It's important to distinguish between colds and allergies, in order to give appropriate treatment.  Cold viruses thrive in low humidity, and nasal dryness can lead to increased susceptibility to colds, so running a humidifier in cold dry winter months may be helpful. However, dust mites thrive on high humidity, so if you're suffering from indoor allergies, the low humidity is your ally. And while rest and plenty of fluids may cure a cold, allergies will persist as long as exposure continues.

To treat and prevent indoor allergies:

  • Visit an allergy doctor who can help you identify the offending indoor allergens
  • Maintain low indoor humidity to kill dust mites and mold
  • Vacuum using a HEPA filtered vacuum and run a HEPA air purifier to remove airborne allergens 
  • Encase mattress, pillows, and bedding in allergen-barrier encasings to protect from dust mite allergies
  • Dust and clean frequently

To treat and prevent winter colds:

  • Wash your hands frequently and disinfect surfaces
  • Get plenty of exercise and rest
  • Eat nutritiously, with lots of fruits and vegetables
  • Avoid alcohol, tobacco, and excess stress
  • Relieve cold symptoms with nasal decongestants and cough suppressants

When treating a cold, remember that medicines may relieve symptoms, but they will not cure the cold. Only giving your body the proper care it needs – rest, proper nutrition, and plenty of fluids – will cure the cold. And with allergies, the best way to treat allergy symptoms is to remove the offending allergens from the environment.

Food Allergies and the Holiday Season

Full of big dinners and family gatherings, the holidays can be a challenging time for food allergy sufferers. So many homemade treats – without any ingredients labels! Food allergies can be challenging for hosts as well.  You want to make dishes that will be delicious for everyone, making all your guests feel right at home. A guest with food allergies can be an extra challenge for planning that perfect meal. Whether you are a food allergy sufferer or you are simply hosting one, here are some tips for getting through the holidays while staying happy, healthy, and allergy free.

Tips for food allergy sufferers:

  • Make sure to alert your host to your food allergy as soon as possible. An advance polite warning may make meal planning easier, especially if you have tips to help out. And, it's best to just be upfront, avoiding hurt feelings at the dinner table.
  • Offer to bring an allergy-free dish or two, taking some of the load off the host and ensuring that there will be some safe foods available. It's standard guest etiquette, and the assurance of a safe dish will make both you and your host feel more comfortable. Plus, when it comes to the holidays and food, the more the merrier, right?
  • Inquire carefully about ingredients before trying any foods, even those that seem familiar. Holiday recipes are often full of "special ingredients" they might not normally include.
  • Food allergens can be hidden in lots of foods – baked treats and desserts, fancy dips, salads and salad dressings, quiches, casseroles. Don't let your willingness to try Aunt Margaret's favorite recipe overwhelm your good judgment – supportive family members will understand.

As a host:

  • Be aware. There's nothing wrong with inquiring about possible food allergies in advance, and it may ease an uncomfortable situation for a guest who is reluctant to be a bother.
  • Be positive and creative. There are many substitutes for common food allergens, like wheat, dairy, and eggs. Look around, explore cookbooks, utilize resources. You might find that it is easier to create  allergy-free dishes than you thought.
  • Keep a recipe or list of ingredients for each dish close at hand; that way you won't have to rely on memory to tell you whether or not a certain recipe had eggs in it.
  • Don't take it personally if your guests can't eat all your concoctions. In addition to food allergies, many people experience food intolerances - not life threatening, but still unpleasant. 

A couple good resources we recommend visiting for more information: This site has lots of great recipes submitted by readers. It allows you to search for recipes which exclude certain ingredients, and it's a wonderful resource for food allergy sufferers and the people who cook for them. Site for the Food Allergy & Anaphylaxis Network, a non-profit dedicated to research and awareness of food allergies. Includes special allergy alerts, FAQ, info on common food allergens, and lots of other resources.

Most importantly, don't forget to relax, have fun, and enjoy the holidays!



In This Issue:

1. Winter Sniffles: Allergies or the Common Cold?
2. What's New at achoo! A tour of our newest product additions
3. Holiday Gift Guide: Great ideas for gifts.
4. Food Allergies and the Holiday Season: Tips for hosts and allergy sufferers.

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What's New at achoo!

We've continued to expand with new great products.  Our latest additions are two new lines of body pillows.  We were planning to choose just one - but liked these top two so much we decided to offer them both!  The sophisticated Snoozer pillow is great for both men and women, comfortably aiding with healthy and restful sleep.  And, there is also a Snoozer pillow specially designed for kids, so everyone in the family can get the benefits of better sleep.  The innovative Serenity Star pillow can also be used by men and women, but it is specially designed for expecting moms, made to cradle and support their little one before and after birth.  A closer look:

$39.99 - $59.99

Snoozer Body Pillow

Our new line of Snoozer body pillows offers great benefits for comfort and health, and we're excited about bringing them to you. The unique and patented full body pillow is ergonomically designed in a candy cane shape, and follows the natural motion and positions of your body all night long. It provides the support of 3 pillows in one, promoting proper spinal alignment and restful sleep, and putting an end to "pillow herding". The Snoozer body pillows are also filled with premium hypoallergenic synthetic down, and machine washable, making them great for allergy sufferers. Specially recommended for relief from arthritis pain, pregnancy discomfort, sore muscles, and restless sleep. 

Read more




Serenity Star Body Pillow

Designed especially for expecting moms, the Serenity Star body pillow is designed in three parts, as a multi-faceted "transitional" pillow. The U-shaped pillow is assembled from a curved pillow and two long bolsters, and measures 5 feet long. Great for providing full body support, and helps expectant mothers to attain a comfortable side sleep position, recommended by gynecologists for mom and baby's health. After baby arrives, the pillow can be disassembled into three parts, finding a multitude of other uses for snuggly support. And of course, the Serenity Star pillow is completely hypoallergenic – filled with a synthetic down that is odorless, hygienic, and fully machine washable.

Read more  


achoo!'s Holiday Gift Guide

Do the holidays have you stumped?  Check out these great gift ideas from achoo! ALLERGY.  Allergy-friendly products don't have to be boring -- these are the hot items on our wish lists!  All our products are carefully tested, chosen, and reviewed. 

Miele Stick Vacuum Miele Stick Vacuum

This convenient stick vacuum from Miele is the perfect gift for your favorite college student. A stick vacuum makes cleaning so easy, they just might do it! Lightweight and maneuverable, the Miele stick vacuum is a perfectly hassle-free solution for maintaining smooth floors and low pile carpets. Plus, it's great for quick clean ups. An air filter traps dust and dirt inside the vacuum, leaving cleaner and more breathable air. The Miele stick vacuum is a great gift idea for anyone who lives in a dorm, small apartment, or city loft.

 Price: $229.00 - $283.00 | Read more

Miele Galaxy Series Vacuum Cleaner Miele Galaxy Series Vacuum Cleaner

A neat gift for the whole family, a Miele Galaxy model vacuum cleaner will change the way you clean! Tons of terrific features, lasting Miele quality, and a light and attractive design make this vacuum cleaner a great value. People who hate to clean will love the convenient features and easy operation, and people who love to clean will rejoice in all the options a Miele offers for comprehensive home cleaning. Choose from five bright colors and great additional accessories.

Price: $349.00 | Read more

Pearl Crescent Hypodown Comforter Hypodown Comforters and Pillows

Who wouldn't love to receive a soft, warm, fluffy comforter? Give the gift of luxury with a down comforter or pillow. Hypodown is an incredibly soft yet durable blend of down, and it’s completely hypoallergenic. We recommend the Monarch comforter, a mid-range down comforter with traditionally elegant 12-inch square baffling and silky cotton encasing. But if Hypodown is out of your price range for this holiday season, consider a Primaloft comforter. "The luxury down alternative," Primaloft is made from ultra-fine microscopic fibers to replicate the dreamy softness of down. Some people even prefer it. And like Hypodown, Primaloft is also available in pillows.

Price: $175.00 and up | Read more

Organic Cotton Blankets Organic Cotton Blankets

A wonderful gift for relatives and friends, with a practical yet classy flair. Organic cotton blankets are wonderfully versatile, and will be appreciated by just about everyone. These lightly woven blankets are breathable enough for summer, and warm enough for a soft extra layer in winter. Plus, all natural cotton is so cuddly, people often have a hard time keeping these blankets on the bed – they're wonderful for snuggling on the couch or watching TV. Healthy and natural, and American-grown and made, these lovely blankets make a great socially and environmentally conscious gift.

 Price: $99.00 and up | Read more

Austin Air Baby's Breath Austin Air Baby's Breath Air Purifier

Give the best gift in the world – clean air! A Baby's Breath air purifier is a fantastic gift idea for new parents. Effective for up to 375 square feet and only 16" high, the Baby's Breath is wonderful way to provide for a little new comer's health and happiness. Available in pink and blue for cute nursery dιcor. Or, if you're buying for an older kid or a grown-up, look for the Allergy Machine Jr., available in black, white, and sandstone.

Price: $299.99 | Read more


Vanicream Skin Lotion Vanicream Skin Lotion

This versatile lotion is a nice and thoughtful gift for people with sensitive skin. Many gift-set lotions are loaded with artificial fragrances and dyes – bad news for sensitive skin! Vanicream is gentle, effective, practical, and completely hypoallergenic. Available in a 1 lb jar with pump dispenser, plus the 4-oz tube makes a great stocking stuffer.

Price: $7.95 and up | Read more


Humidity Gauge Oregon Scientific Humidity Gauge

This convenient and useful tool makes a great gift for your hard-to-buy-for guy. It clearly displays easy-to-read digits with measurements of humidity and indoor and outdoor temperatures. With an illuminated backlight, automatic time synchronization, dual-crescendo alarm, time and date display, and tons of other great features, the Oregon Scientific Humidity Gauge is sure to please all gadget lovers. Good gift idea for dad.

Price: $45.99 | Read more


Gund stuffed animal Gund Stuffed Animals

Lovable and cuddly stuffed animals make wonderful holiday gifts for small children, new moms, and moms-to-be. The Gund product line is known world-wide for their high-quality toys, making a Gund stuffed animal a memorable and valuable gift. Plus, these huggable toys are just so adorable and fun, they'll quickly become any young child's favorite. And since they're machine washable, they'll be mom's favorite too. Unlike many stuffed animals which collect dirt, grime, and allergens, these are easy to keep huggably clean.

Price: $29.99 and up | Read more

Dyson Upright Vacuum Cleaners

A Dyson vacuum cleaner makes a good holiday gift for mom or the whole family. These vacuum cleaners consistently impress with their peerless suction ability, innovative designs, and powerful versatility. Featuring Root8Cyclone technology, easily emptied dust bin, HEPA filtration, telescoping reach, and more, all in a bright and fun design. Plus, buy before November 28, and you'll receive a free Dyson toy. This cute kid-sized version has simulated cyclone action and a stretching hose with real suction, so your little housecleaner can be just like mom or dad!

Price: $399.99 and up | Read more


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