Bed bugs are excellent hitchhikers, and while the most common method for them getting into your home is by hitching a ride in your luggage when you travel, bed bugs can live for quite a long time in old furniture and bedding. For those that live in a dorm or apartment complex, once you have bed bugs, it doesn't take a great deal for time before all of your neighbors have them too.
In addition to being fairly mobile, bed bugs have a VERY high reproductive rate, and in a matter of days or weeks you could be faced with an infestation. This parasite (and they are parasitic with the whole "feeding on your blood while you sleep" thing) is about the size of an apple seed, and can be either flat and brown, or reddish after feeding. They greatly enjoy bedding, particularly mattresses, but any furniture or dark place where they can hide during the day but not be too far from their dinner (you) at night.
Here are a few clues that can let you know if you are housing bed bugs.
- Though bed bug bites can be found anywhere on the body, you will typically find bites on your arms, face, legs and hands.
- Bites appear to be red and swollen with a dark red center.
- Often grouped together, bites can appear as bites in a line.
- However, since there is about 30% of the population does not react to bed bug bites, check your mattress and box spring for tiny black dots, which are their droppings, or look for tiny, red smears (blood) which come from biting you.
Why is it important to know where they hide? To get rid of them. Once you get bed bugs you need to call a professional pest control company to take care of the matter. Trying to take care of the problem your self can lead to a larger infestation and is often simply ineffective.
There are some methods for getting rid of bed bugs on your own. If you had encased your mattress and pillows, provided you're using a good quality bedding cover, you can prevent bed bugs from getting into certain articles of bedding. If not, a common technique is to wash bedding in hot water and dry on high heat. This is fine for pillows and linens but mattresses and furniture are another matter. Steam cleaning can help with some of these. Hot vapor steam generated from a high quality steam cleaner can not only deep clean but kills bed bug. On the professional side of things, pesticides are the most common treatment. Some pest control professionals will use high heat in a room to drive the temperature high enough to kill bed bugs. However, even with professionals, most people often end up getting rid of a lot of bedding and even their furniture.
The next time you see that cozy looking secondhand couch hanging around the dumpster, leave it! It could end up being much more trouble than it's worth. Even when you go to a thrift store, make sure you aren't purchasing upholstered furniture that was in a bed bug infested home. It never hurts to ask.
Author: R. Power
For years AchooAllergy's marked the start of this time of year with an annual sale for your outdoor necessities, like masks, sunscreen, blankets, and more. From large outdoor concerts to state and county fairs or just hanging out with 50,000 of your closest friends in the Nevada desert, fall events occur throughout the U.S., and in different locales, there are a variety of things to plan for. From sunscreen and blankets to masks that can filter out wood smoke, dust and sand, you can now save on some things to make your outdoor event more comfortable.
Top 3 Fall Festival Masks
- Respro Techno - Made in the UK, the Respro has been a traditional favorite. It was originally created to filter out city air pollution and for those with active lifestyles. With Dynamic ACC (Activated Charcoal Cloth) and HEPA-style filtration, this mask does a very good job of not only filtering out particulate (like sand and dust) but also odors and wood smoke. Since the filters are replaceable, the Techno mask provides most people with years of use. A flexible neoprene shell, velcro adjustment, and two exhale valves make for a snug, comfortable fit and help to reduce heat around your face.
- RZ Mask - Also great for outdoor adventures, like a week out in the desert, and to protect you from dust storms and smoke, the RZ Mask is very similar to the Respro Techno. The RZ also comes with carbon/particle filter and dual exhale valves and neoprene construction. Though cheaper than Respro (it's made in China and doesn't carry the official filtration certifications that Respro does) the RZ has been independently tested and is effective for microparticles as well as odor removal.
- Vogmask - There are a few different varieties of Vogmasks. From organic cotton dust masks to the CV99, each offers varying degrees of protection. The best is the CV99 mask. Not only does it have a layer of carbon to adsorb smoke from campfires but the particle filtration is officially certified. A respiration valve, lightweight design and wide selection of stylish prints and unique patterns makes these masks a big hit.
Other Essential Items
Vanicream Sunscreen is great for sensitive skin, eczema and for those who don't want to slather on chemicals and fragrances that are found in most sunscreens. Nontoxic and free from PABA and preservatives, this lightweight, non-greasy formula won't clog pores, and stays water resistant for up to 80 minutes. Available in SPF 30, SPF Sport and SPF 50.
Allergy Armor Organic Blankets are soft and great for chilly nights around a camp fire. Made from USDA certified organic cotton and sewn right in Atlanta, GA, these organic cotton blankets are sustainably produced and free of the chemical, dye, fertilizer, and pesticide residues that are so prevalent in modern cotton production.
Just because the summer is winding down, doesn't mean the fun stops. There will always be communities having a great time, experiencing lights, nature and art. So make sure you have everything you need to get out there and enjoy what remains of summer and coming fall festival season!
Author: April Howard
Eggs are used in wine production? All along I thought my glass of wine was made from grapes in a barrel sprinkled with some yeast. After doing some research, I discovered that not just eggs, but other fining agents are used to remove suspended proteins and solids from wine. These substances clarify the wine before being bottled. So while looking at my Riesling, I wonder if people with egg allergies are able to enjoy a little wine without fear of reactions.
So what are some of the fining agents used in the winemaking process? Here are a few of the most common things you might have never expected to be used in wine production.
- Egg Whites - The albumen found in egg whites is used to clarify red wines during barrel aging. This is the oldest fining method in winemaking.
- Chitosan - Composed of exoskeletons of crustaceans (shrimp, crab, shellfish), is a very common agent for finishing white wines.
- Gelatine (gelatin) - Derived from animal protein, it is recommended for red wines to help reduce excessive tannins and astringency.
- Isinglass - Made from collagen, a protein extracted from the swim bladders of fish. It's a very gentle fining agent, as it does not strip the flavor of the whites and blushes.
- Casein - Not necessarily used for fining, but used to clarify white wines.
For those who are highly allergic to lactose/dairy, eggs, or shellfish or for vegetarians and vegans, the best way to enjoy a bottle of wine without compromising your health is to check the labels, and try to stick with Old World wines (European). Cheers!
Author: R. Power
Street Art - a form of visual art in public locations that the artist has been given legal consent to produce/perform.
Graffiti - Drawings, markings or slogans spray painted or sketched on a public wall or sidewalk.
Tag - A graffiti artist's personal signature.
N95 Respirator or Mask - Face mask or respirator that has been NIOSH rated to filter 95% of particles (0.3 microns or larger) that are NOT oil-based.
EN149FFP1(S) - A European standard for solid aerosol particles and is usable in all outdoor sports, the US equivalent of N95 filtration.
Across the street from AchooAllergy.com are train tracks where freight cars pass by throughout day. Sometimes after work, I get to watch the trains go by carrying along tagged boxcars, some belonging to longtime artists, and some belonging to beginners who have not set their style yet. Watching the boxcars pass by yesterday, I started to wonder if they use masks while they paint.
I searched online for a while, looking for forums or sites that got specific on masks for this purpose. After finding few resources on this topic, I decided to write this blog for friends and artists who were looking for the right mask.
It is easy to think that since you are outdoors, a mask might not be necessary. While it's true that working outside, fumes from paint dissipate more quickly, it's easy to forget that you arms are not quite as long as you think. But, if you consider that paint is literally being applied just a couple feet from your face, it becomes a little easier to recognize a mask, even outdoors, can only help. Wearing a mask can help keep the neurotoxins and paint fumes from being inhaled while working on a piece. Here are a few that may be suitable for your painting adventures!
Respro Techno Mask
A neoprene mask from the UK conforming to the EN149FFP1(S) filtration standard, the Techno has layers of particle filter media as well as Dynamic Activated Charcoal Cloth (ACC). This filters out dust, odors, benzene, pyrene, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxides, lead oxide, and black smoke. Filters will last about 60 hours (so about a month), and replacements sell as a pack of two.
Respro Bandit Mask
Made of cotton with Dynamic ACC laminated in between, it makes for a great mask to fend off urban pollution while covering your face and neck. This mask is hand washable and effective for around six months. You can leave it loose or use the secondary strap to pull in the lower portion of the mask to tighten up against the jaw. It comes in red or blue… This might be a good time to remind folks to pay attention to your environment and your choice in mask colors.
Coming out of southern San Francisco, these masks are unique in their design and color. A soft cotton shell, extra soft hems, and ear loops makes extended time wearing them comfortable, while the colors make the masked artist look more approachable than with other mask options that I have seen.
These protect you from non-oil based particles, pathogens, dust, pollen and other contaminants. Our Classic microfiber Vogmasks are 3-ply with a middle filter later. For the best protection of any Vogmask, the new N99 CV Vogmask meets the NIOSH N99 standards. With active carbon and an N99 layer, the CV also has an exhale valve and comes in even more vibrant colors than the Classic Vogmask.
3M 6291 & 6391 HEPA Masks
Although a bit bulky, this P100 rated respirator is ideal for working with oil-based aerosols. The pink round filters capture 99.97% (HEPA standard)of liquid and aerosol particles, pathogens (influenza strains such as Avian Flu, SARS, etc.), dust, pollen and mold. It is the warmest to wear, but it also provides the best filtration of the masks listed.
Other NIOSH approved filter options that you can purchase separately for the 6291/6391 mask are the 3M 6006 Multi Gas Vapor Cartridge (for chlorine, hydrogen chloride, chlorine dioxide, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen sulfide escape only, ammonia/methylamine, formaldehyde and hydrogen fluoride) and the 3M 6001 Organic Vapor Cartridge (for Xylene, Benzene, paint fumes, pesticides and myriad of other industrial solvents). All of these filters will last about 60 hours, and you can always switch filter types as needed.
I hope that street artists in the Southeast will find this blog and use our masks to create some more street art in Atlanta this summer!
AllergyCapitals.com lists the worst cities in the US for allergies based on the pollen counts, number of OTC/prescription medications per patient, and number of board-certified allergists per patient. The most current list below:
- Louisville, KY
- Memphis, TN
- Baton Rouge, LA
- Oklahoma City, OK
- Jackson, MS
- Chattanooga, TN
- Dallas, TX
- Richmond, VA
- Birmingham, AL
- McAllen, TX
- Box elder
Try to protect yourself, but enjoy this spring’s blooms while you can!
Author: R. Power
The Respro Allergy Mask has long been a popular choice for anyone dealing with allergies, asthma, COPD, MCS or simply wanting to keep dust and other particulate out of the air they breathe. With a soft, flexible mesh shell and exhale valves, the Allergy Mask is breathable and lightweight. It seals well around the face and allow heat and moisture to escape via two exhale valves.
The Allergy Mask comes standard with a particle filter that offers N95 equivalent filtration of particles like pollen, mold spores, dirt, dust, and dander, and will filter particles less than 1 micron in size and larger. Add the optional chemical/particle filters, which have activated charcoal embedded in them, and broaden your filtration to include smoke, odors, chemical vapors, exhaust, fragrance and perfumes.
Respro Allergy masks are now available in two colors and three sizes, with most adults finding the best with Medium or Large masks. The Small size is best suited for children. The Royal Blue mask has a soft, flexible nose piece while the White uses the standard, soft alloy nosepiece that can be shaped and formed. Each filter provides about 50-60 hours of use, and the valves can be removed and rinsed or replaced. The mesh shell can be hand washed, and finally, all Respro masks are latex free.
Whether your gardening or mowing the yard, working outdoors or simply trying to avoid tobacco smoke and perfumes, the Respro Allergy mask is one of the most popular ways to accomplish this. When you're done, it can be folded small enough to easily fit in a purse or even your pocket!
To Shop all Allergy Masks or to Compare and Contrast All Masks.
Author: K. Gilmore
Halle Berry is one of the seven million people who cannot enjoy shrimp cocktails or a romantic lobster dinner, or any mollusks because of her shellfish allergy. Luckily this doesn't include Swordfish! Shellfish allergy symptoms can include hives, itching, swelling of the lips, face, tongue throat, or any body part, trouble breathing, stomach pain, dizziness, and even anaphylaxis. Unfortunately, many do not know they are allergic until they are adults.
Quirky Zooey Deschanel can only have oatmeal with almond milk for breakfast. Well, that’s what I would serve her, due to her lactose intolerance, celiac disease and egg allergy. Lactose intolerance and egg allergies can be hard on the digestive tract while celiac disease leads to the inability to absorb sufficient amounts of calcium and iron often leading to osteoporosis and anemia.
Let’s be grateful that Kim Kardashian is not allergic to latex. That would cut her wardrobe in half! However, she is allergic to cats. Approximately 10 million people are allergic to cats, making this the most common pet allergy in the U.S. What makes Kimmie sneeze and sniff is not the cat hair itself but the protein in the dander of felines.
Bouncing over to the world of sports, Serena Williams does not go to peanuts as a source of protein. Peanut allergies can cause anaphylaxis, wheezing, nausea and itching and tingling in or around the mouth and throat. Almond butter is a great alternative with high amounts of magnesium, iron and calcium.
And last but not least, Miley Cyrus could possibly be allergic to pants. Sadly, she can’t go anywhere that’s not similar to LA weather.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy the weather before another snow storm drifts our way!
Author: Rachel P.
Don't get me wrong, where I moved from in Ohio is beautiful, and life there moves at a somewhat slower pace. I have always said, if I was raising children, as my brothers are, that would be the place I would do it. As a younger adult though, the dirt roads, Amish neighbors and relative lack of people didn't make for the best of environments to meet people. I chose Atlanta, and a big reason was because of all the trees.
Since moving, I've never lived in an apartment, houses only for me. I've never cared for the lack of privacy or a yard that comes with living in an apartment. With a yard though, and a lot of trees, I spend a good amount of time picking up fallen limbs, mowing, and at this time of year, raking leaves. They can be enjoyable tasks, things to either take my mind off of whatever it is that is bothering me or simple things that when I'm finished I can take instant gratification in the results. There are three things that I use, though, that do make the task a little easier on me and my neighbors.
If the leaves have been neglected, then I'll rake them then stuff them into refuse bags. However, if the trees around your home like to taunt you like mine do, then it's generally a slow trickle of leaves that fall, that typically last for about twelve months. Thanks nature! In this case, I prefer to simply mulch them up with a bagged mower.
Some kinds of bagged mowers have the hard shells attached to the back. Much like the turtle do, these mowers crawl around your yard while the shell-like contraption keeps things tucked away inside. If you have a push mower, like me, there are some attachable baggers that are better than others. As an added bonus, bagged mowers also reduce the chances of turning a harmless little pine cone into a projectile of doom. The last bagged mower I had left my neighborhood looking like the dustbowl had come again! The mower I currently have though uses a tighter mesh material that allows less dust and debris to escape. While I've not been given an official award by the neighborhood for ending the Smryna Dustbowl, I'm sure they appreciate it, if for no other reason than they stopped leaving bags of sand on my front porch.
On the personal protection side of things, go with a mask. Because of the lay of my front yard, water settles there. This also means fine sediment like sand and allergens settle there as well. Even something as a simple as a dust mask can keep your lungs happy by blocking these fine particles. If you want something with better protection, there are semi-disposable HEPA masks that seal well and trap the vast majority of all particles you might be kicking up.
The last thing I like to use is a neti pot. This can be either the actual teapot shaped neti device or something as simple as a squeeze bottle. Either way, when I'm done, I dump one packet of into the neti, mix with lukewarm water, then rinse away. If you're using this to flush your sinuses, and you feel full afterwards because all of the mix made its way down your throat… you're doing it wrong. Not to worry though because what you've drank is most basically water, salt and a little baking soda. In one nostril and out the other with half the solution, then, like a barn dance, halfway through, switch. (No barn dance images. Sorry, but I've had those sealed away in a vault.) It does take some getting used to, but this is one of the easiest ways to flush out allergens, dust, dirt and other things that would like to make your nose its new home.
So there you have it! Three things that can not only help reduce your exposure to fall allergens but likely improve your relationship with your neighbors.
Author: K. Gilmore
All satire aside, I'm taking my AchooAllergy.com hat off for this post. As someone who grew up on a farm and regularly brings back our farm raised beef when I travel home, this topic strikes a nerve with me. So, in terms of full disclosure, the opinions expressed here are my own, not those of AchooAllergy.com.
With that out of the way, the news is that the USDA recently announced it was lifting the ban on imported, processed chicken from China, and for me, this raised a few questions.
First, why announce it right before a long holiday weekend? Having some experience with public relations and press releases, this answer is fairly obvious. If you ever want to release something but do not want people to notice it, you put information out on a Friday. If you REALLY don't want people to take notice, release it on a Friday before a holiday weekend.
But why would you want people to not notice the lifting of this ban? I'm just guessing but I would say there are at least three reasons that might be cause to quietly make this announcement. Does anyone remember the story about the thousands of dead pigs found floating in the Huangpu River? Over TEN THOUSAND dead pigs were fished out of this Chinese river last spring, and annually approximately 150,000 to 300,000 pigs die that need to be disposed. Currently China has shown itself ill-equipped to regulate and dispose of these animals in a humane and hygienic manner, which is somewhat evident by the story of Chinese officials breaking up rings that buy, process and sell dead (often from disease) pigs in China. In case you need a refresher on the "dead pig pool party" and it's annual impact.
Shortly after this, a news story broke about "rat mutton". Over 22 tons of inferior or fake meat products were confiscated by Chinese officials. Including rat, fox and mink, this meat were passed off as something other than what they really were.
Lastly, bird flu. This story is one we all are likely more familiar with, but avian flu is a persistent problem with poultry in China. And while poultry sickness is nothing new, it passing to humans is something that has become more common over the last few years. Like other forms of the flu, strains of the avian flu are deadly and relatively less is known about these strains over more traditional strains of the flu. Recently, the H7N9 strain has shown a resistance to the popular antiviral drug, Tamiflu.
Those seem to be three fairly compelling reasons to quietly announce the story about lifting the ban on Chinese poultry imports. But, if you'd like another instance, you can visit the FDA website and peruse reports of Chinese made dog treats (made with chicken) sickening pets all across the U.S. The most recent case involved over 2500 dogs being sickened and around 500 dogs dying from the later recalled treats.
Initially, the imported meat will be from chickens raised in the US and Canada. This is why the USDA has opted NOT to keep inspectors on staff at the processing plants. So while inspectors gave the thumbs up to Chinese producers this spring, there will be no USDA inspectors on hand for when production of the soon-to-be imported chicken actually begins. On a related note, in an effort to reduce cost, the USDA is experimenting with eliminating USDA inspectors here in U.S. poultry plants. Instead they are opting to have private businesses inspect themselves. While this could speed up production, GAO (Government Accountability Office) auditors found the USDA used antiquated data in crafting these new proposed inspection procedures.
As additional cause for concern, initially the poultry will originate in the U.S. and Canada, and as such, this processed chicken from Chinese plants will not have to be disclosed on the labeling. So unlike the dried apricots on my desk that conveniently say, "Product of Turkey", no such disclosure will have to be made in this case.
I realize that to some, this all may sound a bit xenophobic, but as I have suggested with the examples above, there is legitimate concern. As consumers, we have faith that the products we buy are true as presented, but cases like this highlight the subtle yet real ways information is not disclosed or at the very least, disclosed in a manner to draw as little attention as possible.
To read more about the lifting of the ban.
Author: K. Gilmore
The Eczema Company was founded by a our friend Jennifer, and began for much the same reason as Achoo's did - a personal experience in dealing with allergies and more specifically, eczema. From clothing for children and infants with sensitive skin, to specialized creams, balms and other personal care products, the Eczema Company has the solutions to help relieve your symptoms and keep you feeling better.
Right now the Eczema Company is running a back to school sale. Ending in less than a week, take $5 of an order of $50 or $10 off an order of $100 or more.
Visit The Eczema Company for more details.