Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, November 28, 2012
From time to time, a customer may call in here at AchooAllergy and actually get to speak with me (a real treat, I know!). This does not happen too often as I will be the first to admit, I'm not a saleperson, and the phones are generally something I try to avoid. Technical questions, specifics, pros and cons of products? That's my realm. Though, when I have taken calls from customers, I do find that it is generally easy for me to talk about our products (both negatives and postives) largely because I believe in those products and their ability to help people feel better and breathe easier.

HEPA Air Purifiers at WorkWhen new products arrive I often take them home and test them. We at Achoo believe that any true test of a product doesn't come in a lab, but in your home or office where the product will actually be used. In addition to product testing, we also use many of the products we offer right here in our offices. From air purifiers to vacuums, we trust in and use the same brands you find on our site, and a quick walk through our office proves it.

Most of the Allergy Armor bedding products you enjoy are made right here in our Atlanta facility. With all the daily cutting and sewing going on you might be surprised how much dust an operation like this can produce. Visible dust and bedding fibers are the biggest culprit, and to combat these we like Blueair air purifiers. While other brands can offer better filtration of microscopic particles (IQAir), Blueair fits the bill for three reasons. No one suffers from allergies, asthma or chemical sensitivities, Miele Jasper S6 so microparticle filtration and high amounts of specialized carbon are not really needed for this use. Second, the Blueair units move large amounts of air, which is great for this space. Lastly, all models are Energy Star compliant, which is important since they run 24/7 and we try, as a company, to reduce our emissions and limit our carbon footprint.

For the floors, we use a Miele Jasper. You might not be familiar with the Jasper, as it is only available in stores (including our lovely showroom in Atlanta). The Jasper is lightweight, has a sealed system and powerful suction to remove fibers and dust bunnies that can quickly accumulate in that space. Plus, it keeps chugging along even after you completely fill the bag, though I don't recommend doing this! The Jasper is similar to the Red Velvet (sans the velvety goodness).Miele FJM Bag & HEPA Filter - Used and Abused

Throughout our offices you'll find other HEPA air purifiers in use. Due to their very long filter life, ease of use and ability to take a good ding from time to time, Austin Air units are the most commonly found. They not only keep down dust, but they also came in handy during the multiple renovation projects we've undertaken here.

While some simply sell you products, we use what we offer and stand behind what we sell. If we wouldn't use it here, how could we ever expect you to use it in your home or office?

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, November 23, 2012
On Wednesday, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) issued a warning about the use of single load liquid laundry detergent packets. Though convenient and considered less messy than regular powder or liquid detergent, single use packets are accounting for a growing number of accidental poisonings and hospitalizations, particularly amongst children. Colorful, small and soft, children sometimes mistake them for toys or candy, and this can lead to serious problems for those exposed.

Laundry detergent is a part of modern, everyday life, and not many of us worry about getting detergent on our hands while we do our laundry or wash our dishes. Pods or single use packets of laundry detergent offer a convenient and less messy way to wash our clothing, but there are a couple key things to keep in mind.
  • Single Use Laundry Detergent Pods Are Highly Concentrated - Smaller than a traditional cup of powder or liquid detergent, single use packets are a more concentrated form of detergent, and this means that when you are exposed to it, you are ultimately exposed to a greater concentration of chemicals that can cause skin and eye irritation and can sometimes result in hospitalization if ingested.
  • Single Use Pods Are Water Soluble - Meant to be tossed in with a load of laundry without having to be opened, each pad is contained in a highly soluble cover so that it can quickly dissolve in the washer. This means that even small amounts of water, saliva, even something as simple as wet hands while handling, can cause these packets to rupture and being to leak.
  • The Chemicals in Modern Detergents Can Be Toxic - Packed with highly concentrated fragrance and harsh surfactants, detergent can pose a myriad of health risks.
  • Single Use Packets Are Not Toys
  • - This is obvious to adults, but to small children they are simply bright, colorful, squishy packets.
The CPSC recommends three primary tips for using these packets. First, keep them away from children. Second, store them in their original packaging away from children. Choose a high cupboard or somewhere where they cannot be easily reached. Lastly, if exposed to the eye or ingested, contact the Poison Control Center at 1-800-222-1222. If you are looking for a non-toxic alternative, consider something like the Ecology Works Laundry Detergent. Planted based and formulated to be effective without the toxic chemical and harsh fragrances, Ecology works detergent is a suitable alternative that minimizes health risks while eliminating allergens from your clothing and laundry.

For a full copy of the CPSC Detergent Warning.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, November 16, 2012
As the cleanup in the aftermath of Sandy continues, please try to keep in mind a few things. While it did take a little time, the problems of cleaning up after a flood did start to make their way into news stories. This is important because while the immediate effects of flooding can be severe, problems related to water damage and cleanup can persist for days, weeks and even months. The other caveat to keep in mind is that while the the Sandy story may fade from prominence in the news, recovery efforts will go on for months.

As we've discussed several times before, cleaning up after a flood can present some unique health risks. From mold and bacteria to waterborne viruses spread by the mixing of flood and waste water, floods leave a dangerous mess in their wake. So while the waters may recede the threat to health and safety can perist . It is for these reasons, that for us, it made sense to donate several different types of masks. They block everything from mold spores to odors, and are an important piece of safety equipment when cleaning up after any flood.

The outpouring of support for any natural disaster is often overwhelming at first. The way the American public responds to their neighbors in need is something that can truly be the envy of the world. As media focus shifts to the latest news of the day, sustaining that support often tends to become more difficult. However, just because you're not seeing 24/7 news coverage of the storms effects doesn't mean all is well.

So as we sit down to prepare to give thanks next week, take a moment and reflect on ways you might be able to help. If you choose to give, there are a variety of reputable, large, national charities as well as local charities that collecting and organizing supplies, money and manpower. From donating socks, volunteering, or just chipping in $2 to a relief oriented charity, every piece, large and small, helps.

American Red Cross

Tags: Masks
Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, November 13, 2012
A few years ago we started seeing allergy bedding pop up in large retail stores, and ever since we get not only get customers asking what the difference is, but also our referring physicians and allergists ask this. While the products themselves may seem very similar, there are some very key differences between what you'll find at your local Wal-Mart and Target versus what we offer.

AchooAllergy Knows Allergy Bedding - It's Kinda Our ThingWe at AchooAllergy have been producing and selling allergy bedding for over a decade. With a full 12 years of experience under our belt, we have transitioned most of our production to our very own facility.

Big box stores are stocked full of products that are largely imported from China, and the same is true when it comes to the allergy bedding you find there. While some of those products may serve you well, the trade-off for a lower price is lower quality. A pillow cover may last you a year or two and others, two days before something breaks or tears. I call this the "dud factor". With imports, the dud factor goes up, and the chances of getting a dud is higher. This isn't to say you don't get the occasional dud from more expensive products, but the chances are less likely.

If you have a thicker mattress you likely won't find a cover large enough to meet your needs, and the selection of different fabrics (at different price points and features) simply is not there. As with trying to find uniquely sized furnace filters, you will only find the most popular/common sizes in big box stores. However, our Allergy Armor brand bedding is a cut above the rest.

Most of our Allergy Armor line uses premium fabric, made here in the U.S., and our top products feature YKK zippers. These are two big reasons why we offer 5 year, 10 year and even lifetime warranties on our best allergy bedding covers. Allergy Armor Ultra even comes with an antimicrobial finish. And if you ever have a problem, let us know and we'll make it right! As a small business, our customers are important, and level of service you receive from our customer service staff and support offered from our website far outpace that of larger retailers.

Allergy Armor Bedding - Exclusive to AchooAllergy.comIn terms of the product, our material is breathable, comfortable, and tested to provide you relief. When you open an Allergy Armor mattress or pillow cover, you actually feel fabric, not plastic or paper-like material, and if you want to compare the pros and cons of each fabric we offer, all the information is easily accessible on our website. With literally thousands of pages we devote a lot of time to answering your questions, comparing products, and offering what you need to keep you feeling better and breathing better.

Allergy bedding is what we do. It is the core of our business, and not only do we know the products, but we actually produce most of them.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, November 08, 2012
Ladybug 2150It's not often that you see a discount on a premium product, but for a limited time, the Ladybug 2150 steam cleaner is priced at $999. Just in time to deep clean before the parade of holiday visitors starts, the 2150 is the introductory Ladybug steam cleaner that uses the power of pure steam to sanitize throughout your home.

Constructed of quality components, the Ladybug 2150 uses a "dry" steam to kill dust mites, neutralize germs, loosen grime and grease, and unlock odors on all surfaces. This extremely hot steam contains very little water, so even on hardwood and laminate flooring it dries in seconds. As a continuous fill steam cleaner, you can fill the Ladybug without having to wait for the boiler to reheat.

Thirteen standard accessories/tools turn the Ladybug into an extremely versatile cleaning machine, and the free Tuff Kit provides five additional pieces to tackle even the toughest cleaning jobs.

From sanitizing kitchens and bathrooms to cleaning furniture, grilles and even the rims on your car, the Ladybug 2150 is an ideal way to clean without the use of harsh chemicals that leave behind residue and pollute the air in your home with harsh fumes. Kill germs, remove allergens, clean and sanitize, and get the machine to do it all, now $50 off. And with prices going UP on all Ladybug steam cleaners in 2013, now is the time to save. View our entire line of Ladybug Steam Cleaners.

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Sadly, ONLY My Dog Gives Me HivesFor those who suffer from pet allergies, the most common type of reaction is a respiratory one. Sneezing, wheezing, congestion, puffy eyes are often symptoms of pet allergies. There are also skin reactions that can accompany pet allergies. These can include itching, redness, and hives. As puzzling as allergies can often be, some people can exhibit one type of reaction without necessarily exhibiting both.

For the respiratory symptoms, the first step is to get away from the allergen. Once you remove yourself from the situation, to help to relief coughing, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes, etc., an over the counter antihistamine generally provides quick relief. For those who may suffer an asthma attack because of pet allergies, rescue inhalers can open airways and provide relief.

Hives caused by pet dander can create a slightly different set of circumstances. Hives are the byproduct of histamine which causes small amounts of the blood's plasma to leak into the skin. This is why you often see raised, red bumps or many that merge together to form patches or "plaques". Hives itch and burn, and can last anywhere from a few minutes to days.

Hives can be treated with several types of products, and as with other allergic reactions, remove the trigger first. Before you buy something from your local pharmacy, try cooling the area first with a cool compress or even ice. Avoid tight-fitting clothing and the use of hot water or harsh soaps on the affected area. In terms of over the counter medications, antihistamines will help some, but have the greatest benefit when used very shortly after or prior to exposure (to help prevent hives). Other types of anti-itch lotions can prevent scratching and topical analgesics or steroid creams can reduce the swelling, pain, and itching from hives. In severe instances, a shot of epinephrine can be administered.

Related to hives is angioedema. Angioedema is similar to hives with the biggest difference being that the swelling occurs beneath the skin instead of as raised welts and that the swelling is often localized around the eyes, mouth, hands or feet. Angioedema is most often associated with food allergies, but can be brought about by many types of allergens. Treatment of angioedema is the same as hives - remove the allergen, treat the symptom and if severe, visit the doctor.

Sleeping on an Allergy Armor Mattress CoverFor reactions caused by pets or pet dander, avoidance is key. If finding a new home for your favorite pet isn't an option, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the dander that you come in contact with. For removing dander from the air use a sealed, HEPA air purifier, and vacuum with a quality HEPA vacuum cleaner. Both can remove dander that can be in the air, on the furniture and throughout your home. Limit areas of the home where the pet can roam. Ideally, this means you keep your pet out of your bedroom and off of your bed.

In terms of caring for your pet, regular and frequent brushing can remove excess hair that often holds dander, and by using an anti-allergen pet shampoo with more frequent baths, you can remove dander from your pet's coat.

For me personally, I have no reaction to my dog unless he snuggles up against me. I bathe him with the pet shampoo by Ecology works and frequently dust and sweep (hard flooring only in my home). I also limit the areas of the house available to him by keeping my bedroom door closed. Occasionally I do let him sleep on my leather couch with me, though I throw an Allergy Armor mattress cover over the couch and my blanket to create a barrier between his hair and dander. So while there are many options, even a few simple steps such as these can reduce pet dander and limit both respiratory reactions and skin conditions like hives.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, November 05, 2012
Have Oaks?  Then You Have Acorns by the BushelThis is the time of year when it is quite common to be enjoying a cup of coffee on a brisk morning and see a squirrel feverishly sorting through fallen nuts. It is also fairly common that once you finish that cup of coffee, you spend the rest of the day raking and blowing leaves. As I was doing this, I couldn't help but notice the thousands of tiny acorns that had accumulated in the front yard and on the driveway. With the driveway looking something like an acorn grinding mill, I wondered if blowing around these crushed acorns would be a problem for someone who had tree nut allergies.

Allergic reactions to acorns, though not common, are possible. While the most common reactions to acorns appear in places where they are frequently eaten, experiences with acorns can vary widely, even amongst people with tree nut allergies. Some can have no trouble with them at all, while other are fine handling unbroken acorns, and other still have issues but only if they are ingested. Because data regarding allergic reactions to touching or handling acorns is so sparse, many allergists see little threat to those who suffer from tree nut allergies. Other allergists, choosing to err on the side of safety, will recommend to simply avoid all tree nuts.

Allergic to Acorns?  Beware Acorn DustI wondered though, what about crushed acorns? While I was blowing off the driveway I was creating small mounds of crushed acorns and acorn dust. After weeks of running over them and no rain to wash them away, clearing the driveway meant kicking up clouds of acorn dust and debris from literally thousands of these crushed nuts. For someone who is allergic to acorns, this could potentially pose a serious problem.

As with any fall allergen, like ragweed or mold spores from rotting leaves and pine needles, a quality allergy mask is the simplest way to avoid inhaling the allergen. With a proper seal and N95 or better filtration rating, a mask can filter out those particle allergens that could potentially cause an allergic or asthmatic reaction.

So whether you're raking leaving or just blowing off the driveway, an easy way around potential hazards is with a mask. If contact dermatitis is a concern, be sure to wear gloves and long sleeves, and as always, if you are a tree nut allergy sufferer, play it safe and keep an epi-pen/auto injector handy. Lastly, keep in mind that you can always ask someone else rake those leaves or blow off the driveway!

For my part, I'm still looking for something better to do with all these acorns!

Fall is also a time when you may find acorns around the house, particularly as decoration or even as part of a medley of tree nuts for people to snack on. In instances like this, even if you are not allergic to acorns, cross contamination with other nuts, like Brazil nuts, cashews, walnuts, etc. can be a concern. For a very concise and well written article about acorns and pine nuts with regard to tree nut allergy sufferers, visit here.

Author: KevvyG

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