AchooAllergy.com Blog
Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 30, 2013
WellaPets - Kids Games About AsthmaAre you the parent of a child with asthma? Would you be interested in trying a new app/game that is not only entertaining for your child but also teaches them about asthma triggers, treatment and how to better manage asthma? In development by LifeGuard Games, there is a fun, new app that needs your input - WellaPets.

You start by creating a virtual pet, and in this case, a tiny fire-breathing dragon. But here's the catch. Your little dragon has asthma and can't breathe fire like the other dragons, at least, not initially. The game takes you through a series of challenges and a variety of mini-games that teach your child not only some tips for controlling your pet's asthma, like through the use of an inhaler, but also points out triggers throughout the home that can aggravate your dragon's asthma. So with the virtual pet, your child can learn, explore, and interact, all while managing a pet with the player's chronic condition - asthma.

Screen Shot of WellaPetsThough game is fun and interactive, the educational aspects are blended in and help reinforce general knowledge about asthma but also focus on themes like self-efficacy (taking control of and managing your condition) and communication with parents.

There is science behind this, and research about similar games for children and young adults coping with diabetes and even cancer have shown positive results.

So if you have a young child dealing with asthma and would like to help by trying the game and giving some feedback, there's just three easy steps.
  1. Sign up here
  2. After you've signed up, use the mobile device that you want to play on (ie. iPad) and visit TestFlight to complete the process
  3. Play the game for two weeks and fill out the survey when you're finished!
This week you can complete steps 1 and 2. The game and survey questions will be sent out very soon (first week in January).

For more information about WellaPets.

Author: KevvyG

Tags: Asthma
Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, December 24, 2013
On behalf of all of us here at AchooAllergy.com, I wanted to take a moment this evening to wish all of our readers, customers and visitors safe travel this holiday season. We hope that whatever your destination, you arrive safe and enjoy time with those you love. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, December 20, 2013
One Saturday morning, Marsha and I decided to make a breakfast of champions - French Toast, fresh-squeezed orange juice and bacon. We had our grocery list ready with bread, bacon, eggs, cinnamon, oranges, and almond milk. "Why almond milk?" I asked, and she replied, "It's what I use because I'm lactose intolerant."

Almond milk is a great milk substitute (1 cup of unsweetened almond milk contains 1 g of fiber and 30-40 calories!), with omega-3 fatty acids (important for mental health) and no lactose. Not only is it a great dairy milk alternative, but it also is helpful for those trying to reduce heart disease risks and watch their cholesterol intake.

So what is lactose intolerance? The Mayo Clinic explains lactose intolerance is due to the lack of lactase in the small intestine. This enzyme bonds to lactose molecules and breaks them down into glucose and galactose (simple sugars), to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Without lactase, foods with lactose move along unprocessed, thus leading to tummy aches and problems.

So Marsha can't enjoy pizza, quesadillas, crème brûlée or French toast, unless she puts a non-lactose spin on it. Breakfast is our favorite meal of the day, so I decided to share Marsha's favorite breakfast recipe. Bon Appétit!

French Toast (6 Pcs.)
  • 2 Eggs
  • 1 1/4 C. Almond Milk or 1 C. Almond Milk & 1/4 C. Coconut Milk
  • 1/2 Tsp. Vanilla Extract
  • Sprinkle of Cinnamon
  • 6 Slices of Bread
  • Coconut Oil or Vegetable Oil (Anything other than butter)
Whisk the first four ingredients into a medium mixing bowl until well blended. Warm the pan to medium to low heat. Take your bread of choice and dip into the mix, until the bread is almost completely saturated with the mix.

Next, place a knife’s tip of coconut oil on the pan and let it melt, which it quickly will, and spread over the pan. Place one slice in the pan, and let it cook on each side for about a minute and a half or brown to taste. Keeping the heat low can help to avoid burning your toast and scorching the oil.

Enjoy this delicious French Toast with fruit, powdered sugar (my mom uses blueberry sauce and powdered sugar) or maple syrup.

Come back and check out how we make crème brûlée sans heavy cream!

[Editor's Note: We would have a wonderful picture of this delicious French Toast, but our author ate it all. Poor show, Ms. Power, poor show.]

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Thursday, December 19, 2013
Owning a dog changes a lot of things for people, but one thing you might not think about is how it changes the dust inside your home. It's true, the composition of the dust in dog owner's home is actually different than that of the dust found in a pet-free home, and researchers believe that exposure to this "dog dust" may actually reduce the development of allergies and asthma in children. Could it be that dogs are proving themselves to be "man's best friend" all over again? And if so, how?

Over the last year or two, researchers have paid closer attention to the microbes living on and in us, and how these things can dramatically affect our lives, particularly when it comes to immune responses. Published this week in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, new research suggests an interesting link between exposure to dog-associated house dust and the subsequent development of allergic diseases like asthma and allergies, and interestingly enough, at the middle of this research is a very specific type of gut bacteria, Lactobacillus johnsonii.

Lactobacillus johnsonii - Key to Asthma and Allergies?During the our first few years of life, we begin to develop a very diverse microbiome of bacteria (think of a microbiome as a community of bacteria living inside your gastrointestinal system), and from immune responses to metabolism, these tiny inhabitants are proving to be critical in the development of allergic disease. In this instance, researchers tested dog-associated dust exposure as well as simple supplementation of Lactobacillus johnsonii into the gut.

When exposed to the "dog dust", the pre-adult mice showed less response to an airway allergen challenge, fewer activated T cells and reduced Th2 cytokine expression, all key indicators of allergic response. For another set of mice who weren't exposed to the dust, but instead had the numbers of Lactobacillus johnsonii in their gastrointestinal system supplemented orally (think - they gave the mice a Lactobacillus johnsonii probiotic), similar but not as strong results appeared. This second set of mice showed that while increased number of the Lactobacillus johnsonii bacteria in the gut did correlate with fewer allergic reactions and less allergic response, this correlation was much stronger in the mice who were exposed to dog-associated house dust. This seems to show that while that specific microorganism is helpful, a greater diversity in the microbiome also plays a role in immune system development and protection against allergic disease.

The results are just another step in process of unraveling allergic disease, but is a truly critical one for two reasons. First, researchers were able to identify a very specific microorganism that shows a strong link to preventing the development of allergic disease. Secondly, the "dog dust" shows that not only did it lead to increased level of this beneficial microorganism but also helped promote a more diverse array of microbes living in the intestinal system, and that as other research has suggested, this variety is also import in preventing the development of allergic disease.

Undoubtedly, more attention and research will continue, and maybe soon, the link between allergic disease and the tiny microbes around us can become clear enough to begin devising ways to actually reduce the chances of children developing asthma and allergies in the first place! Wouldn't that be something?br>
To read the full PDF of the research or for more condensed abstract.

On a side note, I discovered, Nestle (the food company, which consequently has a research facility in Switzerland) is responsible for the genetic sequencing of this bacterium, Lactobacillus johnsonii and uses it in some of its probiotic products.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, December 16, 2013
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease, or COPD, is one of the most common respiratory disorders affecting people today. It is a generalized term that many people recall wasn't often spoken ten to fifteen years ago. In the past, you were more likely to hear emphysema or chronic bronchitis, but COPD has become a catch-all for both of these. What is COPD, how does it relate to allergic disease, and can an air purifier actually help?

COPD Lung Function Diagram - NiHMost basically, COPD is two-sided coin of reduced lung function that is most often typified by chronic inflammation of the airways (chronic bronchitis) which causes overproduction of mucus and subsequent blockage of the airways. The other side of this is the destruction of the alveoli the lungs, emphysema. If you remember your high school biology, alveoli are the tiny little balloons or air sacs where the actual gas exchange (swapping of oxygen and carbon dioxide) takes place. For people coping with COPD, these two things often go hand in hand.

In either condition, the result is "chronic obstruction" which reduces lung capacity. Inflammation and mucus blocks the airways or the alveoli are damaged and cannot function properly, making it increasingly difficult to breathe.

The difficulty in breathing may sound familiar to many of you. If you have asthma or even certain allergies, this is an all too familiar symptom. Another similarity, though, is the root cause. Both asthma and allergies appear to be a mix of genetic and environmental factors where genes predispose you to these conditions, and environmental factors may ultimately trigger them, or at the least, exacerbate them. COPD is most often caused by smoking, but research shows that long term exposure to air pollutants, chemicals and even dust can contribute to this disease.

Unlike asthma or allergies though, COPD is progressive and isn't something that can be cured or outgrown. Unfortunately the best case scenario for people dealing with COPD is to manage and slow the disease as much was possible. This is where an air purifier may help.

In addition to medication, there are a few things that your doctor may prescribe to help people coping with COPD. In more severe cases, oxygen is a route that is often taken. In less advanced stages of the disease, an oxygen concentrator may also be used. In either case these are things are use primarily at night, while you sleep. They increase the percentage of oxygen that is in the air you breathe. Typically oxygen only makes up a small amount of the actual air entering your lungs, but with higher concentrations of oxygen, it becomes easier for people with COPD to breathe. Many times when you first begin using oxygen or a concentrator, you might notice a big difference in how you feel during the day. Getting sufficient oxygen while you sleep is crucial for your health, and many will feel more energetic, less lethargic and better overall when they begin use of oxygen or a concentrator.

Second, doctors often advise you to limit your exposure to pollutants in the air that can aggravate COPD. From dust and pollen to paint fumes and chemical vapors, a wide variety of particulate can inflame airways and worsen breathing conditions. HEPA air purifiers help to reduce these things by filtering out these pollutants, both particulate and chemical vapors. Keeping your house clean and reducing dust are also basic but helpful measures that can help anyone coping with COPD.

COPD is something that personally affects me. My father was diagnosed with COPD less than a year ago. For years he smoked AND struggled with asthma. To make matters worse, he spent a great deal of time working on our family farm, in the dusty hayfields or barn. And on top of all of that, he has worked for nearly two decades at a place where clay dust and silica sand are used prolifically.

The Honeywell 50150 HEPA Air PurifierA few years back, I got an inexpensive Honeywell air purifier that a customer had returned. My mother placed it in the living room, and ever since dad often spends nights sleeping beside it on the couch. (And no, it's not because he doesn't want to share a bed with my mother. I would think six kids is enough evidence contrary to that! She often works nights, so many times he'll sleep on the couch.) One thing that my dad has told me, is that he generally tends to feel better when he sleeps on the couch. Not only does the Honeywell produce white noise to help him sleep but more importantly, it helps to reduce dust and particulate in the air in the living room.

By no means do I think a HEPA air purifier is a cure, but for many people, they can help with COPD. And truthfully, many of the products we make and offer can help in that regard. The focus of our products is to better control the environment around you. Things like air purifiers and allergy bedding do just that, by filtering our pollutants or keeping them out of the air you breathe in the first place.

For more information on COPD, consult your local physician or you can find a variety of solid information at the Center for Disease Control or National Institute of Health's websites.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Well yesterday I had written a very nice, long post about winter time allergies, but alas, technology was not kind to me at all yesterday. So here is take two.

Over the last couple of weeks, it has become increasingly apparent that the calendar has clearly forgot to tell the weather that winter doesn't officially start for a couple more weeks. Snow Sends People Inside... Unless You're TenWith all but six states in the U.S. having snow on the ground, it is a safe bet that there are a lot more people spending time indoors. During this time of year, it is actually common for people to experience worse allergy and asthma symptoms. Though most offending plants are dead or nearly dead, mold spore counts can be high from decaying fall foliage, cold weather induced asthma ramps up, and lower humidity inside your home can mean more dust. Because most modern homes are very tightly sealed, indoor pollutants and allergens build, so for some, the more time you spend indoors, the worse your allergies seem to get. Keeping all of this in mind, here are some top-to-bottom tips to get your home allergy ready for winter.
  • Furnace Filters - Starting in most people's basement, the furnace or HVAC filter is often the first line of defense against dust and other indoor allergens. Ductwork can be a hotbed for dust, pollen and microbes, and firing up the furnace for the first time can flush all of this out into the air you breathe. Traditional furnace filters should be changed at least every three months. Generally by this point, they've filtered all they can really hold and are likely seriously impeding air flow. If you have a permanent or semi-permanent filter, like a Permatron, now is a good time to rinse/wash it. Either way, cleaning or replacing your furnace filter is a good first step in reducing indoor allergens.

  • Laundry - Do you use any sort of anti-allergen detergents or laundry additives? It is a good idea to stock up. Things like wearing layers, having family visit/stay with you, and unpacking winter clothes or winter bedding can all contribute to a lot more laundry. And for those things that may have been in storage, like your winter comforter or favorite "ugly sweater," Washing them before you first use is always a good way to get rid of any dust or odor they may have picked up.

  • Fireplace or Burning Wood - Though I'm not sure how many people still grow up like I did, primarily heating your home with wood, wood burners and fireplaces can quickly foul up the air in a house. From not properly managing the draft and flue to simply needing to have the chimney cleaned, there can be a variety of causes of this. A mask with carbon and air purifiers can help with some of this, particularly when you're starting or stoking a fire.

  • Replacing Air Purifier Filters - The times when you need to replace your air purifier filters will vary. Some filters last years, like an Austin Air filter, while other may only last you a couple months, like 3M Filtrete filter. For air purifiers to keep your indoor air clean, overlooking filter replacement can present a serious roadblock. Check your user's manual, or if it's a model you've purchased from us, check out site to see when you need to replace the filter. Keeping your HEPA filter current can really help in reducing allergens in your bedroom and throughout your home.

  • Pets - As you spend more time indoors, so to do your pets. This can mean more hair, more dander, and more sneezing! Regular baths help, but bathing too frequently can cause more problems than what you solve. Humidity levels are generally lower during the winter, so more frequent baths can strip away the oils that your pet produces to keep its skin and fur healthy as well as lead to things like doggie-dandruff and lot of itching and scratching. In between baths, things like pet wipes and AllerPet can really make a difference. AllerPet denatures the proteins found in dander to neutralize these allergens without bathing. Pet wipes are a quick and handy way to cleanse away loose pet hair and dander from your pet's winter coat. And don't forget to brush! Winter coats are often thicker, and this can mean more pet hair floating around your home.

  • Extra Mattress or Duvet Covers are Handy for PetsBedding - Many of us put our winter clothing and bedding away when spring rolls around, and when you dig it out for winter, it can sometimes be dusty, have an odor, or best of all, have critters! For bedding and clothing that's been stored away, washing it before you use it can be very helpful. Comforters and blankets, in particular, can be hotbeds for dust mites, so once through the washer and dryer (with hot water and at high heat, respectively) can go a long way in keeping allergens out of your bed. Additionally, if you're like me and enjoy having a foot warmer during winter, (also known as my dog) an extra dust mite mattress or duvet cover simply thrown over your bedding can block the dander and the pet hair that your furry friends often carries.

  • Vacuum - If you have a replaceable HEPA filter, when was the last time you checked it? Generally about one year is all the use you get from a vacuum HEPA filter, and often if you are noticing odor when you are vacuuming it can be because you need to replace the filter or the dust bag. Replacing these components at regular intervals can not only keep the surfaces and the air in your home cleaner (provided you have a sealed system, certified HEPA vacuum), but also reduce strain on the motor and keep this handy home appliance performing at its best.

Now, there are more things you can do to reduce winter time allergens, like using a home humidifier to keep the relative humidity comfortable (also helps to keep airborne dust levels down), but these are a good place to start. If you want to sum this up, winter time is basically a really good time to check up on and maintain the things in your home that reduce indoor allergens. By keeping them in good working order, they can each do their job effectively and help to make your time indoors easier.

Author: KevvyG

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, December 11, 2013
Just a little update for anyone who tried to contact us yesterday afternoon. We suffered some technical difficulties but should be back up and running like a well oiled machine today. We apologize for any inconvenience.

And just a reminder, with the holiday season upon us, keep in mind shipping times if you are wanting your order to arrive before the 25th. Standard deliveries, if ordered by Dec. 16th-19th should arrive before Christmas. This will vary a bit depending on your specific location. Expedited deliveries (1-2) day, can be ordered as late as the 19th and arrive on time. Of course, all of this is weather dependent, and we all know, the weather in much of the country hasn't been the most cooperative this past week.

Author: K. Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, December 06, 2013
Haikus are Japanese style poems, organized as a 5-7-5 syllable pattern (a total of 17 syllables). They use imagery to capture a feeling or moment. So relax and enjoy these little bits. But beware if you are lactose intolerant! They will be cheesy... [Editor's Note: Ha-ha.]

Shhh... it's so quiet.
The Blue Air Purifier
Hardly hear it hum

My dear Christina
Oh how I love your kittens
But not allergies

Its flu season now
Time to use my Respro mask
Keep me safe outside

Hot drinks for cold nights
No milk in my hot cocoa
No egg in my nog

AchooAllergy
Has lots of stuff for your nose
They will help you breathe


Author: Rachel

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, December 04, 2013

There's only 24 hours left to take advantage of our 15% Off Thanksgiving Sale. Use coupon code "thanks2013" to take a season's best 15% off your order. From a warm, cozy blanket, to HEPA air purifiers, humidifiers, and HEPA vacuum cleaners, save big on the best brands and products to help keep your home comfortable all year round!



Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, December 03, 2013
Part of my Thanksgiving holiday was spent tackling a chore that I really don't like this time of year - raking leaves. I love trees as much as the next tree hugger but after having mulched up and filled over two dozen bags worth of leaves, I dread stiff breezes. The yard will be clean then along comes the wind to spoil it. Aside from the hassle that fall leaves present, they can and do lead to bigger problems when left to lay where they fall. What's the problem you ask?

After I Raked Away the Leaves, I Got A Surprise.  No, It's Not SnowSunday I was raking up an area on the side of the house. I often neglect it simply because it's a smaller space, but it does tend to fill with maple and oak leaves as well as pine needles. When I was done, it was nearly dark, but I noticed white splotches on the ground. No, it's not snow. It was entirely too warm for that... Mold!

Mold spores are all around us, and given the right conditions, mold can quickly turn from spores to actively growing colonies. Fall leaves often present the perfect opportunity for mold growth. The dead leaves provide the perfect cellulose based food source, and when enough of them fall in any area, they form an insulating barrier over the soil. This barrier helps to trap warmth but more importantly moisture, which is critical for mold growth. In this situation, all of the conditions for mold growth are set, oxygen, food, and moisture.

This type of scenario is fairly common during this time of year, regardless of where you live in the U.S. Actively growing mold colonies can create problems for anyone but particularly those who deal with allergies and asthma. The substances produced by mold colonies can range from the benign to the toxic and cause symptoms that can include dermatitis, sneezing, runny nose, congestion, red eyes and wheezing. So what can you do?

Well, the easy approach is stay holed up for the winter and "much like the bear do," sleep your way through winter. For most of us though, that notion is nothing more than a pleasant fiction. Besides, by the time spring rolls around, you'll still be dealing with mold. Removing it can be simple enough, provided you have the time and the right tools. Raking up and bagging leaves is the tried and true way to remove much of this problem, but while you're doing so, there are a couple of things you should do to reduce your exposure to mold.

I always wear gloves. It's not because I have delicate hands, but there can be a variety of decaying leaves, pine needles and other debris that can range from being bone dry to gelatinous mush. Second, I always wear a mask. Something as basic as an N95 respirator can effectively block mold spores.

Even when the weather is dry, there can be, and still often is, mold lurking under the leaves or pine needles. Dust is also a concern under these conditions. I often mulch the leaves into a bagger before dumping them into a refuse bag, and I'm Certain I Could Shake the Rest of the Leaves Out With This! this can create a LOT of dust. Any time I do not wear a mask, my throat and nose will feel "funny" for a while afterwards. It's some odd mix of dry but congested and feeling like I inhaled sand. I also change my clothes before and after to also help keep from bringing the dust and mold spores inside and spreading them all over the house.

Generally, if you can manage to keep the leaves and pine needles picked up, you will go a long way towards reducing the mold or fungus that can pop up in your yard or garden. Now, if I could only figure out a way to shake the hell out of those trees to get the last of the leaves off.....

Author: K. Gilmore

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