AchooAllergy.com Blog
Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, February 26, 2013
Common CPAP MaskPeople who suffer from COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disorder), sleep apnea or other respiratory conditions have some familiarity with wearing a mask while sleeping. Perhaps not the most comfortable, these masks often help keep airways open or deliver concentrated oxygen to assist breathing when lung functionality or airways are compromised. Sometimes bulky, these masks provide a very real and much needed benefit to ensure oxygen levels remain at levels that keep the body healthy and feeling refreshed after a night's rest. For those who suffer from other respiratory conditions like asthma or allergies, masks serve a different purpose. They block particle allergens like dander and pollen while some also filter out odors, smoke and chemicals. While these types of masks are often worn during the day, there may also be some benefit to wearing them at night.

In the February issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, a research piece explores the idea of asthma sufferers wearing a mask while sleeping. While allergen avoidance is a commonly recommended course of action for people with allergies or asthma, one type of intervention alone is rarely sufficient. This has long been the reason why we have traditionally recommended an overarching approach that includes allergy bedding covers, air filtration, and regular cleaning to removal of carpet and the use of an allergy mask. It is this last part that these researchers focused on.

Wearing a Mask While Sleeping May Help Children Better Control AsthmaThis randomized, four week study focused on children with asthma and rhinitis and tested to see how sleeping with a mask (even when they continued on their normal medication) would affect them. What they found was that those who slept with a mask at night to help filter allergens or irritants reported more asthma control days (days where their asthma was under control) and a higher peak expiratory flow than their non-mask wearing counterparts.

While no single measure, wearing a mask, encasing bedding, or regular cleaning, can effectively control allergies and asthma alone, what the study shows is that when added to a regimen, wearing a mask at night may be beneficial to some children in their efforts to control asthma. If wearing an allergy mask at night is something you want to consider for your child, keep in mind a few things - size/fit, effectiveness, and airflow. While even something as simple as a N95 rated mask will help, comfort, correct sizing and adequate airflow can all impact how likely the child is actually to keep the mask on while s/he sleeps. And if it comes off during the night, don't worry! In the study, almost half of the children who did wear masks, woke up with them no longer on but still benefitted.

To read the full published research article.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, February 25, 2013
While I generally shun most of same things men in my family have long considered habits of the opposite sex, there is one thing in particular where I break that mold. I have two furry caterpillars that are constantly on a slow march towards each other - my eyebrows. No amount of pulling seems to deter them, and while I admire her work, there can and should only be one person that people think of when they hear "unibrow" - Frida Kahlo. So one of this weekends tasks was to find a place to have them waxed into submission. Going from the suggestion of my roommate, I went to a nail salon just a short drive from the house.

I don't have much experience to work from, but the salon seemed trendy, clean, a lot of white and modern furniture. Another thing that did not escape my attention was the smell. The minute I opened the door it was like being slapped in the face with a bottle of nail polish. After talking to front desk, I sat down in an overstuffed chair, and noted that I was the only male there. (I suppose that was to be expected though.)

As the minutes ticked by, I looked over the large room. It had high ceilings, similar to what you would see in renovated industrial spaces. While I did spot one employee wearing a surgical mask, I couldn't help but wonder why. They offer absolutely no protection against the fumes and at best really only block escaping saliva as she spoke. Aside from that single mask, there was nothing that I could see, that was filtering the air in their. And with no open windows or doors, I could see how even this large space could hold such an overpowering smell.

Nail Salons and Toxic VaporsNail polish has a long history of being laden with toxic chemicals, and even though laws limit or ban the amounts of things like toulene, DBP and formaldehyde (toxic trio of nail polish) that can be found in polish, many products labeled a "toulene-free" or "three-free" still contain these substances. These types of chemicals can have far reaching health consequences, as some are carcinogens and others are linked to everything from respiratory and skin irritation to developmental and reproductive problems .

I am guessing that this type of thick, heavy polish odor is fairly common since the other patrons and employees seemed completely unfazed. Since I was already feeling out of place, the overpowering smell did little to make me want to continue to wait. After another ten minutes passed, and I was still quietly waiting, I had decided my fuzzy caterpillars were going to live to see another day. I said goodbye to the folks at the front desk and "hello" to my tweezers.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, February 22, 2013
Viruses, bacteria, and germs... they seem like a terrifying lot sometimes, particularly when the evening news shows stories of salmonella food poisoning, some ultra rare microbes with devastating effects or a story about how research on the mutating the Avian flu virus to affect people will continue. For all the negatives we hear day in and day out about the microscopic organisms, millions of them are on our skin and even inside of us at any given time. As science focuses more on how they interact with our bodies and effect our health, the picture of a positive relationship is becoming much clearer.

Over the last few months new studies have shown that bacteria in our digestive system play a key role in everything from losing weight and fighting colds to lowering cholesterol and even alleviating asthma. In addition to the longer known relationship between bacteria in our GI tract and digestion, new research is showing a symbiotic relationship on many levels.

The lungs have long been thought to be sterile, devoid of the types of microorganisms that are so commonly found in the digestive system. A recent study by the Cardiff University of Medicine has revealed that not only was that assumption wrong, but that some of the organisms found in the lungs may play a key role in whether or not a person develops asthma.

Different Species and Concentrations of Fungi Found in Lungs of With over 100 different types of fungi found in sputum samples, the study showed differences in not only the types but also the number of fungal species found in samples from asthmatic and control patients. For asthmatic samples certain fungal species were found that were either not found or found in much lower numbers in the control group - Psathyrella candolleana and Malassezia pachydermatis are just two. The reverse was also true for control patients. Systenostrema alba and Eremothecium sinecaudum were found in healthy patients and were either not found in asthmatics or found in much lower numbers.

While the study of numbers, types and more importantly the role of fungal species in the lungs is still in its infancy, it offers a new avenue of study in terms of the development and treatment of asthma.

To read the full text of the study.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Allergy Armor Organic Cotton Blankets - Crepe WeightsWe recently expanded the our line of Organic Cotton Blankets. Traditionally, we have offered what we refer to as our 100 weight (wt.) crepe weave blanket. Perfect for year-round use, the crepe weave blanket is light enough for summer use but an excellent for use under your winter comforter for those colder nights. Now you can purchase the crepe weave blanket in a slightly heavier weight.

Our 120 Wt. organic cotton blanket weighs a bit more, but is woven with a slightly different crepe pattern. This pattern tightens the blanket while the added weight means you get a heavier blanket. The new 120 Wt. has also undergone an initial warm water prewash. This fabric won't shrink as much as the 110, but it's still a good idea that regardless of which of these two blankets you go with, wash them by themselves for the initial washing. I made the mistake of washing one with a smaller, dark-color cotton blanket, and now it has cotton fuzzies on it! In terms of shrinking, organic cotton is untreated so, both will shrink in the first wash. We have sized both large to accommodate for this.

So whether you want a great year-round organic blanket or one more geared towards the cooler months, both of our Allergy Armor organic cotton blankets are warm, durable, chemical, dye and finisher free, and are both 100% American Grown and Made products!

Washing My Allergy Armor Comforter at HomeIn other news, the Allergy Armor Ultra Comforters have arrived! Pre-ordered comforters are shipping today, so if you've purchased one, it should arrive in the days ahead. If you haven't, this warm, durable and allergen blocking comforter might be the perfect addition to your bedding set.

With reinforced, rolled edges and a boxed construction, the Allergy Armor comforter uses the allergen blocking power of our Ultra fabric to keep dust mites, pollen, dander and other particle allergens out. Machine wash and dry (might need to run through a cycle or two unless you're using a big laundromat style dryer), then use the sew-ins on the corner to tie your decorative duvet cover on, and you're all set!

They even have a born-on date on the tag. So 20 years from now you'll still be able to see where and when you got that great, allergy-friendly comforter that's held up so well for all those years.

Author: Kevin G.

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, February 18, 2013
Miele S8380 Cat and Dog Canister VacuumAs the last in the new S8 line of Miele vacuum cleaners, the S8380 Cat & Dog is the perfect addition to any pet owner's home. While many of the features make this vacuum a great fit in any home, a few things make this vacuum particularly well-suited to tackle the things that most pet owners deal with - pet dander, hair and odors.

Pet Hair - Nothing screams "I have dogs" like pet hair on every article of clothing you own. Pets shed, and whether you have a pet that only sheds a little or one that could win a Hair Club for Dogs award, keeping pet hair at a minimum can be a real challenge. To help with this, the Cat & Dog has several features, starting with the carpet attachment. The included SEB 228 is powered by an independently driven motor and works well in removing entangled pet hair from any style or thickness of carpet. In addition to this, the S8380 comes standard with the STB 101. This handheld turbobrush is great for removing pet hair from upholstered furniture, carpeted steps or any other area where your pet's hair is finding its way onto and into fabric.

STB 101 Turbobrush - Standard with the Cat & DogPet Dander - Just because you have a pet doesn't mean you never want friends or family, who are allergic to said pet, to never visit. The Miele Cat and Dog uses a sealed system and multiple stages of filtration to not only pick up and remove pet hair and dirt but also microscopic particles of dander. While the filter traps 99.95% of particle 0.5 microns or smaller, the reason why you give up a little bit, compared to traditional HEPA filtration, is explained next.

Pet Odors - I'm one of those pet owners who doesn't like pet hair or pet odors. Truthfully, I was the guy who said, "I'm NEVER have a dog in my house," and like most of the time when someone proclaims 'never' this or 'never' that, it didn't stick. With regular cleaning, you can avoid having visitors come to your house and be smacked in the face with dog funk as soon as they open your front door. The Miele Cat and Dog does its part by removing the pet hair and dander but by also adsorbing odors. The Active AirClean filter uses more activated charcoal than the standard Miele HEPA filter. This helps to remove pet odors as you clean.

The Miele Cat & Dog is Good Housekeeping approved and comes with the same standard features that other Miele S8's offer like, one-touch cord rewind, suction control foot buttons, a raised bumper strip, 3 integrated mini accessories, and one of the longest warranties available today. You can pre-order or for more information about the Miele Cat and Dog canister vacuum. Stay tuned for our video and new photo galleries.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, February 12, 2013
As the latest product in our line of Allergy Armor bedding, the Allergy Armor Comforter provides built-in allergen protection. Using our Ultra line of fabric, we've created a comforter that not only blocks allergens like dust mites, pollen and dander, but is also warm and durable.

Sewn in Loops Keep the Ultra Allergy Comforter in PlaceSimilar to the Allergy Armor Ultra Pillows, this comforter is actually made from the Ultra barrier fabric, eliminating the need to for an extra duvet cover. No more added weight and with sewn in loops on the corners, you can easily tie a decorative duvet cover over your Ultra comforter. This means that your comforter won't ball up or shift, and you can use any cover to match the decor of your room.

A reinforced, rolled edge provides for added strength and allows our comforter to better retain its shape and not resemble something that looks like a strip of bacon. The filling is a non-woven, non-allergenic polyfill that will provide years of warmth, and a boxed construction means the fill cannot all collect in one corner of the comforter. Instead it stays inside of each baffle.

For convenience, the Allergy Armor comforter can be machine washed and dried, and a ten year warranty means we have confidence that this comforter will be the last comforter you will need for a long time.

Allergy Armor Ultra fabric is our top-of-the-line fabric. With an average pore size of 2.8 microns, Ultra provides complete protection against all common particle allergens (dust mites, dander, pollen, mold spores, etc), even some of the very smallest like cat dander. This fabric also features an antimicrobial finish that has been used in hospitals and on sports apparel for almost three decades.

Available in three sizes, you can take advantage of the 15% off bedding sale and pre-order yours today!

Author: Kevin G

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, February 11, 2013
Spring Allergies, Early... AgainWe're not quite two weeks in to February, and while much of the Northeast and Midwest is literally digging out from under a few feet of snow, in other parts of the country, there have already been a couple days of high pollen counts. In Atlanta, the Easter lilies have been in bloom for almost a week, and much like last year, spring pollen season is likely coming early for many allergy sufferers.

Last year, the sneezing started earlier due to a warmer winter, and for much of the country this is again the case. Now, if you're sitting under three feet of snow right now in Boston, this doesn't really apply, but the spring allergy season there typically trails the start in the southeast, south and west.

Spring allergy season is an annual event marked by plenty of sneezing, congestion and in some places, a putrid green-yellow dust covering everything. In more recent years, milder winter temperatures and heavier rainfall has led trees, grasses and other plants all beginning to bloom earlier in the year, effectively prolonging the season. The same is likely going to be true for this year.

Most people are familiar with seasonal allergies and the symptoms they bring, including, sneezing, congestion, watery eyes, sinus pressure, swelling, and a sore throat. Avoiding the pollen of spring is difficult for many but by making a few slight changes to your everyday routine, you can can reduce much of your exposure.
  • Check the pollen count - Most local forecasts give you a pollen count and the types of pollen that are prevalent on any given day. You can also find this information relatively quickly online or through many of the weather apps available for your mobile.
  • Take your shoes off - Kicking your shoes off at the door can keep you from tracking pollen in and all through your home.
  • Keep the windows closed - Open windows let in a fresh, spring breeze, but they also allow unwanted guests like windwalking pollens. Window filters can remove much of the pollen in the air and still allow some air to pass through.
  • Replace your furnace filter - After a winter of being shut in more than usual and using the furnace, your HVAC or furnace filter is likely long overdue for a change. Most filters use simple particle filtration but some have electrostatic properties that boost filtering ability. Electrostatic filters generally only last about three months before they are full of particulate, so regular replacement is a must.
  • Irrigate - I'm not talking about your lawn. Instead, nasal irrigation is a quick and easy way to wash away allergens that can accumulate in airways and throat. Removing them with a saline rinse not only moisturizes but also reduces reactions by flushing the allergen out of your system.
These are just a few ways you can prepare and cope with spring allergies. While you cannot eliminate pollen, you can take these simple steps to reduce their impact (and your misery) during this time of year.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

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