AchooAllergy.com Blog
Posted by R. Power on Monday, March 31, 2014
One of our favorite companies, Ogallala Comfort Company, is in the midst of a makeover! Ogallala will be changing their fill for their hypodown bedding. Currently they have a blend of 80% goose down and 20% Syriaca used in their mattress pads, pillows and comforters. With an increase in availability of Syriaca, the silky milkweed seed parachutes, the blend will now become 70% goose down and 30% Syriaca. This makeover also includes an addition of bedding products made with high quality white duck down. All of these changes will ultimately bring down the prices for consumers.

If you looked at prices around the turn of the year, you might have noticed a HUGE price increase! Trust us, we were just as upset over that as you were. With the price of down dramatically increasing, they adjusted their prices up to compensate. Needless to say, people weren't very happy about this, so from the pricing you would have seen around New Year's there has been about a 40% reduction.

Ogallala Pearl Crescent Down ComforterOgallala has been a mainstay at AchooAllergy for over a decade. As the highest quality, luxury bedding available, Ogallala offers custom bedding options that are nearly unmatched. For people dealing with allergies or asthma, their blend of Syriaca and pure goose down (no feathers), has allowed them to offer and stand by a very attractive guarantee. For ten years, your Ogallala bedding will NOT cause an allergic reaction. Reactions to bird feathers is a very common one, and low quality down can often cause sneezing, congestion, or coughing and wheezing in asthmatics, but not Ogallala's Hypodown.

Prices across our Ogallala bedding offering have been adjusted, so if high prices a few months ago scared you away, it is probably worth taking a second look now!

To see the full line of Ogallala Luxury Down Bedding.

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, March 26, 2014
Despite the wind and snow that has continually harassed much of the country this winter, for many areas of the country, spring is here! Personally, every year I definitively mark the start of spring here in Atlanta, and that day was yesterday. How can I predict this better than any meteorologist on the planet you ask? It's easy! I own a black truck, so the first time I see tiny specks of yellow/green dust on it, I know spring has arrived.

Though, I suppose if you want to get technical about it, Atlanta Allergy & Asthma posts daily pollen counts, and we've already seen a few days over 900. For nearly two weeks straight in April of 2013, pollen counts stayed 1600. Yellow tree pollen was everywhere, on vehicles, clothing, even my dog! So, 900 is pretty bad for those allergic to tree pollens, but not quite as severe as April of last year, yet....

If I buy into the hype, I would say, this spring pollen season will be the worst pollen season ever! Don't Be Caught Unprepared, Otherwise You End Up Using A Spatula As An Ice Scraper And Relying On A Gift of Rock Salt to Pull You ThroughWhile some entities (*cough! the Weather Channel *cough!) seem certain we're in for the worst allergy season on record, this same entity also warns us pretty regularly during the winter that any inch of snow is probably the worst inch of snow ever! Then again.... they were kinda right about that whole ice storm thing in February. Yes, that one, the one that had me sacking out on the couch at work because stranded motorists had the streets so clogged that even after six hours of trying tens of roads and one trip to the Scottish Rite Children's Hospital (a stranded family needed a lift), I simply could not get past all of the stuck vehicles. Then there was a 2011 study, conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that confirmed what anecdotal evidence has been pointing to for some time now - for parts of North America, ragweed season is lasting longer and ending up to a month later. Frankly, I'm not sure which is more troubling, a longer allergy season or the Weather Channel being right!

All kidding aside, Spring 2014 is shaping up to pretty miserable for a lot of people coping with allergies. High precipitation during the winter has primed much of the country for pollen to literally "pop" in the next couple weeks. Much like a party popper, many people are likely high pollen counts. In my case, the city will begin to look like a giant pollen-filled Respro Allergy Mask - Whitepiñata just exploded above the city of Atlanta and is raining down yellow-green sneezy-treats.

In preparation for this, we've seen a fairly steady stream of visitors to the store, and most of them are looking for the same three items - Allergy Masks, window filters, and HEPA air purifiers. These three items can make a big difference in how spring allergies affect you, and all three have one thing in common - they filter the air you breathe. Masks are popular, especially if you have a yard or garden to tend to. Even something as simple as walking your dog this time of year can bring misery if you have allergies, but a minimum of an N95 rated or equivalent mask can block pollen, dust and other spring allergens.

Window filters are also very popular. After being cooped up for a winter like the one most of us have just struggled through, it is hard to resist the temptation to open the windows and let a warm spring breeze in. Unfortunately that spring breeze can also carry a great deal of tree, grass and weed pollen. Window filters block the majority of this pollen, and while they do cut down on some airflow, they allow many to open the windows with less worry. No Soliciting.... or Pollen!When you've tried your best to keep the pollen out, but like a persistent door-to-door encyclopedia salesman it keeps finding its way into your home, a HEPA air purifier can keep parts of your home free of pollen and allergens. Generally, it is best to place it in the bedroom and keep the door closed. Most people spend the majority of all the time they are in their homes, in the bedroom sleeping, so it is ideal to make at least this space clean and free of allergens.

Short of moving to the Arctic circle, spring pollen season can affect you in any region of the country. So now is the time to start preparing for what probably be better than the last few months of the snow and ice, but... not by a lot.

What can I say? I've got a lot of spring cheer!

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, March 18, 2014
Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MDWe are constantly trying to bring you the most up-to-date and relevant information available. To help in doing so, we've begunn partnering with board certified doctors to answer some of the most frequently asked questions we receive about allergies and asthma.

With our first set of questions, I'd like to introduce Dr. Matthew Mardiney, MD.

Travel Allergy Tips?

How can I keep my allergies in check when traveling to countries where I might be exposed to trees/plants that I've never encountered before?

- submitted by TravelBug

Traveling out of the country or even other parts of our country can be challenging for people who suffer from environmental allergies. There is no easy way to predict how a foreign allergen will impact the allergic individual. Factors that can impact include previous exposure, the amount, and duration of exposure. Often allergy sufferers who have not have had previous exposure will be less affected by a new environment.

The keys to travel success are to ensure that your baseline allergic condition is being maximally treated and controlled prior to your travels and to have a treatment plan going forward. Being prepared to travel means knowing the predominant allergen that you will be exposed to {endemic pollens, animal dander, mold, etc.} and having backup measures to initiate if symptoms escalate. This includes avoidance measures (as best as possible) and additional medications such as antihistamines and/or decongestants for symptomatic control if needed. In extreme cases traveling with a low dose oral steroid and/or a rescue inhaler may be warranted based on the person's allergic history.

Finally, Individualizing a treatment plan with your Allergist or PCP is always a good idea before traveling. Remember the phrase "Fail to prepare...prepare to fail"

Keeping Your Child Active with Asthma?

Any advice on how to keep my asthmatic son active but safe during the spring and summer?

- submitted by Marietta, OH Mom

Every asthmatic is different but typically the summer and particularly the spring can be challenging. Our goal is always shooting for maximum control where the asthmatic patient essentially normalizes and can do anything a non-asthmatic can do. Typically this Playing & Exercise with Asthmacan be obtained to some degree with preventative allergy and asthma treatment.

If your child does have pollen sensitivity in the spring and summer it's best to do most activity outside in the early morning or late afternoon when pollen counts are down and temperatures are cooler. Be aware of the air quality and limit outside activities during poor air quality days. If your child struggles with allergy and asthma despite these measures, a reassessment of their maintenance allergy and asthma treatment is indicated and consideration for allergen desensitization "shots" should be discussed with your local allergist.

Do you have questions you would like answered? Submit them to us via the FAQ form on every product page, email them using blog@achooallergy.com, send them to us via our live chat or send us something via snail mail. The most relevant and intriguing we'll select to be answered.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Friday, March 14, 2014
For our Friday Product Spotlight, I wanted to take a few minutes to take a look at the Alen BreatheSmart air purifier. Alen has carved out a niche for itself by offering mid-level air purifiers specifically geared towards removing indoor particle allergens, and the BreatheSmart is the signature piece in their line of HEPA style air purifiers. For those dealing with pollen, dander or dust mite allergies, here's why the BreatheSmart could just be the ideal solution for reducing those allergens throughout your home.

Alen BreatheSmart Air PurifierI want to start by talking about the filtration. You'll notice that Alen uses the terms "HEPA like" or "HEPA style". This is because all Alen air purifiers offer near HEPA filtration, but come up just a smidge short. There are few filtration categories that are HEPA or near HEPA for most air purifiers The traditional ASME (American Society of Mechanical Engineers) HEPA standard is 99.97% filtration efficiency of particle 0.3 microns or larger. In Europe the standard is H13, 99.95% of the same size particles, and lastly there is an H11 standard with a filtration efficiency of 95% or greater. The Alen BreatheSmart filters 99% of particles 0.3 microns or larger. So, it comes in higher than H11 filters but just under traditional HEPA efficiency ratings.

What does this mean for you? Could be a lot. Could be not much of anything. The answer lies in which type of allergens affect you. If dust mites or pollen is the nemesis, the BreatheSmart will work well. The low end of the particle filtration range will get collected and retained by the filter of the BreatheSmart. If pet dander, smoke or odors are your game, you may want to consider a different model. Not simply because the particles of these can be smaller than what a certified HEPA filter would capture, with pets, smoke and odors, HEPA filtration plus activated carbon is typically the best way to remove these allergens. So to recap, for dust mites or pollen the BreatheSmart is a champ, for smoke, odors or pet dander, the BreatheSmart might not deliver the knock out you've been looking for.

Beyond filtration, the Alen BreatheSmart is a really simple air purifier to operate. There are no dials, just a series of easy-to-use push buttons and indicator lights. Select one of four fan speeds or the Auto Mode (which will select the appropriate fan speed based on current particle pollution levels in the air). Filter Life indicator lights let you know how long until you need to replace your filter, and unlike strict timers, it factors in fan speed and actual run time. There is also a timer that allows you select 4, 8 or 12 hours of run time before the unit will automatically shut off. Plug it in, press a few buttons, and you're finished!

The last thing that really stands out with the Alen BreatheSmart is its quiet efficiency. While the top fan speed is still somewhat loud (this is pretty much unavoidable with any fan/blower-based air purifier), on all three lower speeds, it is significantly quieter than comparable models. Best of all, it consumes fairly little power, so much so that it is Energy Star certified.

In all, the BreatheSmart is a solid choice for those dealing with particle allergies. With spring allergy season just around the corner, and pollen counts already nearing 1000 in Atlanta, now might the best time to invest in an air purifier for your bedroom or living room.

For more information about the our full line of home HEPA air purifiers.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by R. Power on Wednesday, March 12, 2014
Easter Lillies?  Daffodils?  Either way, I like the way they look and smell!Now is the time to start planning your gardens, whether they are in your backyard, in pots on your porch or planters on your window sill! It’s also time for plants to start budding and flowering, which leads to pollen dispersal, and ultimately spring allergy season. But don’t fret if you cope with allergies or asthma and want to garden and enjoy the fruits of your hard labor.

While allergies will vary from person to person, I’ve found a variety of plants that are considered "allergy safe" by Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. This list of possible plants gives you a horticultural balance in creating a more allergy friendly garden.

Flowering Dogwood TreeTrees: Apple, Cherry, Chinese Fan Palms, Fern Pine, Dogwood, English Holly, Hardy Rubber Tree, Magnolia, Pear*, Plums and Red Maples.

Shrubs: Azalea, Boxwood*, English Yew, Hibiscus, Hydrangea and Viburnum.

Grasses: St. Augustine

Flowering plants: Begonia, Cactus, Chenille, Clematis, Columbine, Crocus, Daffodil*, Daisy, Dusty Miller, Geranium, Hosta, Impatiens, Iris, Lily, Pansy, Periwinkle, Petunia, Phlox, Rose, Salvia, Snapdragon, Sunflower, Thrift, Tulip, Verbena, and Zinnia

*These are plants that I know tend to have strong or distinct scents. This may be problematic for those with multiple chemical sensitivities (MCS) or who don’t care for overly fragrant flowers.

Here are some combinations for any kind of garden.

Iris in BloomLawn:
  • Dogwoods + azaleas + crocus + St. Augustine grass
  • Cherry Tree + boxwoods + tulips
  • Dogwood + St. Augustine grass + periwinkles
  • Dogwood + hostas + phlox
Pots:
  • Cacti garden (hard to combine succulents, which hardly need water, with plants that may need it daily)
  • Chenille + zinnias (butterflies love these)
  • Geraniums (hummingbirds love these)
As a couple final reminders for gardening with allergies, try to get out early. Pollen counts soar as the day wears on. Make sure to where an N95 allergy mask while outside and to wash up and change clothes after you’re done gardening. Have a beautiful spring with these plants, and your gardening, and send us pictures on our Facebook page or twitter if you feel inspired!

Author: R. Power

Posted by kevvyg on Monday, March 10, 2014
Anatomy of an Asthma AttackFor those dealing with asthma, the standard treatment is generally a combination of corticosteroids (anti-inflammatories), leukotriene modifiers (reduce leukotrienes, preventative), and beta agonists (open airways long & short term). There are other drugs and combined drugs, but these three types typically cover most patients. Beyond managing asthma better with medication, exercising and avoiding known triggers, there are few options when it comes to asthma. In 2010, the FDA approved the Alair Bronchial Thermoplasty system, an approach to treating asthma that does not involve medication. After a few years of use, this treatment is showing decent results for those with the most severe asthma, but what does this treatment entail and how does it work?

Simply put, bronchial thermoplasty (BT) is the process of inserting a catheter into the airways and heat to reduce the mass of the smooth muscle tissue that surround the airways. What the doctor is typically doing during this outpatient procedure is administering moderate sedation while inserting the tube/catheter. Each treatment lasts about an hour, with the entire treatment taking three sessions with three weeks in between each session.

Clinical trials and subsequent use of the technique have shown that for people with severe persistent asthma, for whom drug treatments are not effective, BT might be an alternative. In short term, two year, and five year trials, patients saw significant and sustained reductions in the number of emergency room and unscheduled doctors visits, and this trend has continued with usage of the treatment amongst the greater population of severe asthma sufferers. Another, but lesser benefit, has been that some people have been able to slightly reduce the medication they take to manage their asthma.

As with any medical procedure, there are some risks involved, and this type of treatment is not recommended but for about 5-10% of the asthmatic population (the segment with the most severe and most resistant to drug treatments). The process itself can be uncomfortable as most people will experience wheezing or coughing shortly after treatment, due to the irritation of the airways by the BT procedure.

It is important to note a few other things with BT. First, it is not a cure. There is no known cure for asthma. Second, this treatment if only available for people with severe asthma, for whom standard medications do not work well. Third, though this type of treatment may help, it is not going to take the place of medication. In many ways, it seems to help medication be more effective in people, for whom previously it did not work. This type of treatment is not near as universally available as prescription asthma medications, so for many, it simply may not be available.

To read the abstract of the 5-year trial, one of the earliest clinical trials, or for more information on the FDA approved device itself.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Wednesday, March 05, 2014
Miele Flamenco II - 12 Years and Still Sucking!Last week, we had a local customer stop by with a Miele that had stopped working. When I saw it, I immediately recognized the body shape and styling as an old S200 model canister, and upon closer inspection, I did indeed find that it was a Miele Flamenco II. As the pictures shows, it is a little rough for wear, but most of it seems to be scuffs. The customer informed us that her Miele would not power up. This can generally mean anything from a bad switch or circuit board to a faulty thermal cut out or issue with the motor. After some initial testing, my coworker declared that it was likely the motor. Sitting nearby, I laughed. Somewhat indignant, he then asked me what I thought it was. Though I couldn't say, I was willing to bet $5 that it was NOT the motor.

We checked the label on the bottom - 2002. Surely it wasn't the motor. It was only 12 years old! To further test this theory (and win my wager), I brought in my multi-meter from home, the next morning. After checking the cord reel, the motor and the plug, it started to become increasingly clear that I was going to win my bet.

With the multi-meter we were able to narrow the source of the problem down to the plug. After replacing the cord and reassembling the Flamenco, it was time for a test. Sure enough, it started right up without issue!

There were a couple things I took away from this. Something we often talk about with a Miele vacuum is the initial cost but viewing a Miele as an investment. Each is built to provide you 20 years of reliable cleaning service, and in the age of "throwaway" everything, including cheap home appliances, this is no small thing. Even after twelve years of use, this Flamenco was going strong, and a simple replacement of the plug had it up and running like new. The other thing I took away from this was.... lunch!

To see the full line of Miele vacuums.

Author: Kevin Gilmore

Posted by kevvyg on Tuesday, March 04, 2014
The New Stadler Form Albert DehumidifierWith the Ides of March nearly upon us and Daylight Savings Time due in less than a week, it seems that spring is racing toward us! For many of us, this means spring allergy season putting a whooping on our immune system. It also means spring rains, wet basements & crawlspaces and humidity levels starting their annual climb to August. Just in time for all this wet weather, I'd like to take a minute to introduce the new Stadler Form Albert dehumidifier.

Like the Danby and other models we offer, the Albert is a room dehumidifier, but unlike other models, Albert has actually been a "Belle of the Ball." What I mean is, the Albert is one of very few dehumidifiers that has won a Red Dot Design Award. Each year thousands of home appliances and Stadler Form Albert Dehumidifier 2013 Red Dot Design Award Winnerproducts are submitted to an international design contest that includes entries from over 50 countries, worldwide. In 2013, when the Albert was first released in the European market, it won. Stadler Form home appliances have a reputation of blending modern form and aesthetic appeal with function, and in this regard, the Albert dehumidifier is no different.

That's not to say Albert is all style and no substance. Far from it, this home dehumidifier is loaded with convenient features to complement its style and design points. Hidden casters, a smooth rolling water bucket with splashguard and collapsible handle, seven feet of drain hose (to port the dehumidifier and eliminate the need of emptying the water bucket), oscillating louvers, and integrated handholds are all substantive but practical features. And that's not to mention the LED display. With the display you can quickly see and set your fan speed (3), the desired humidity, the current humidity level, and even a 24 hour timer. Indicator lights let you know if the unit is defrosting or if the tank is full. For more severe humidity problems, you can set the Albert to run continuously, regardless of the humidity level in the space. The entire display adds a sophisticated look without complicated controls.

Albert Digital LED DisplayFor light sleepers or those who have had problems with loud dehumidifiers, rejoice! The Albert is likely the quietest refrigerant-style dehumidifier on the market. Starting around 33 decibels, this model is whisper quiet on its lowest fan speed, and even on its highest setting it is quieter than most comparable models on their lowest fan setting! Dim the LED display with the "Sleep" feature and you're all set for a peaceful night's sleep.

Albert will remove about 43 pints of water per day, making it the perfect complement to your HVAC system when it is not keeping up with humidity and excess moisture removal. Lastly, when you compare it to other 45 pint humidifier models, you'll see that it uses 1/3 less power! So, if you're looking for a home dehumidifier that offers the performance you need with the style you want, the Stadler Form Albert is the perfect choice!

Author: K. Gilmore

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