He may not be a doctor, but Santa Claus is definitely an expert when it comes to giving gifts. We caught up with Santa at a local mall to get his thoughts on the best gifts for allergy and asthma sufferers.
Allergy Consumer Report: Thank you for taking the time to speak with us, Santa. We know that most kids ask for "a PS3" instead of "allergy relief" - but we're hoping you can give parents some gift ideas for children with allergies and asthma.
Santa: Why, certainly! I've been delivering teddy bears and all sorts of stuffed animals for a long time, but I only recently found out that stuffed animals can make allergic children very sick if they're not washed frequently. You see, dust mites thrive in the material of traditional stuffed animals. If you have an allergic or asthmatic child who wants a teddy bear, give him or her a Baby Gund stuffed animal. They're hypoallergenic and machine washable, so you can keep the dust mites under control by washing them weekly.
ACR: What else can parents do to protect children from dust mites and other allergens?
Santa: Parents should make sure that their child's nursery or bedroom stays clean and has fresh air. You should focus on the bedroom since that's where your child spends about a third of his or her life. Allergy relief bedding, like Allergy Armor, blocks out dust mites and other allergens. But parents of smaller children usually prefer CleanAir mattress & pillow encasings since they're water-proof. If your child is still a baby, consider the hypoallergenic & antimicrobial Starlight Support Crib Mattress. It's the healthiest crib mattress available.
Indoor Air Quality is a major concern today, especially for children. Their lungs are smaller, so they inhale more frequently and breathe in more pollutants. A good air purifier will remove allergens and other pollutants from the air. The Austin Air Baby's Breath air purifier, available in pink or blue, is perfect for a nursery or child's bedroom. Air filters for furnaces and vents also improve indoor air quality.
Parents of allergic and asthmatic children must work extra hard to keep the whole house clean. Cleaning products like DustMiteX, X-Mite, and Anti-Allergen Solution will help get rid of allergens. A HEPA vacuum cleaner is a must, and special vacuum attachments take care of allergens in hard-to-reach places. De-Mite Laundry Additive and Allergen Wash ensure that clothes and linens lose their allergens in the wash.
If mold is the offending allergen, parents must pay attention to the relative humidity. You can monitor the humidity with a humidity gauge, and a dehumidifier will remove excess moisture from the air. Neither mold nor dust mites can survive if there's not enough moisture in the air.
ACR: What can parents do for a child who is already experiencing allergy symptoms?
Santa: Besides doing everything in their power to make sure their child avoids exposure to allergens, parents can relieve allergy and sinus symptoms with pharmaceuticals like antihistamines as well as a variety of non-drug methods. Nasal & Sinus Irrigation - washing out the sinuses with salt water - is very effective at washing away allergens and germs. Sinus irrigation has become very popular in the U.S. just in the last few years, although this is an ancient practice in many cultures. Humidifiers provide sinus relief when the air is too dry and irritating. Breathe Right Nasal Strips and the Vicks Personal Steam Inhalder help open breathing passages for a better night's sleep, and Clear-Ease Natural Fruit Enzyme Lozenges help reduce swelling and congestion naturally.
ACR: What gifts would be appropriate for someone who has Asthma?
Santa: I've already mentioned the Baby Gund stuffed animals, which should be washed weekly to eliminate dust mites. Exposure to dust mite allergen can acutally lead to the development of asthma. For kids who need PARI Nebulizer treatments, the Bubbles Mask is a favorite. It's nice when a child can have fun while receiving treatment. achoo! ALLERGY also carries pediatric nebulizers and aerochambers for children with asthma.
All sorts of allergens and pollutants can trigger asthma, so it's important to keep the air clean with an air purifier. But don't use an ionic air cleaner that generates ozone - because ozone is a lung irritant that could cause asthma attacks. Cold air can trigger asthma attacks as well, so a cold weather mask would be a nice gift for someone who has asthma.
ACR: Do you have any gift ideas for people who have Food Allergies?
Santa: The hot new item among food allergy sufferers is the Food Allergy Restaurant Card. These wallet-size cards remind restaurant servers and kitchen staff of the allergy and thus make dining out a little safer.
It can be especially frightening when a young child has a food allergy - because sometimes they can't let their caretakers know about the allergy. Food Allergy T-Shirts let everyone know about a child's allergy. Table Topper disposable place mats are also great for kids with food allergies; they protect children from allergens, germs, and chemicals on restaurant tables.
ACR: What about people who have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity?
Santa: People who have multiple chemical sensitivity should avoid all synthetic chemicals whenever possible. Organic mattresses, organic bedding, natural personal care products, and nontoxic, fragrance-free cleaning products help people avoid unnecessary exposure to chemicals, and the AllerAir MCS air purifier specializes in removing chemicals from the air.
ACR: We've talked quite a bit about gift ideas for children since that's your main area of expertise, but what are some popular gifts for adult allergy and asthma sufferers this year?
Santa: Allergy relief bedding, like Allergy Armor mattress & pillow covers, is a must for allergy sufferers, along with an air purifier. Every allergy sufferer also needs a HEPA vacuum cleaner to trap allergens.
Nickel solution is very popular among women who are allergic to jewelry that contains nickel; the kit allows them to wear any jewelry without allergic reactions.
And if you really want to impress someone, give him or her the gift of the best sleep in the world with a Tempur-Pedic® mattress and Tempur-Pedic® pillows.
ACR: Thank you for taking the time to share your holiday gift ideas, Santa. You'll find a big plate of cookies waiting for you at achoo! ALLERGY. (You don't have any food allergies, do you?)
Santa: Oh, it was my pleasure! And no, I'm not allergic to any foods. Luckily, since we keep a very clean shop, I'm not allergic to dust mites, either. The only bug I'm allergic to is the bahumbug. Ho, ho, ho! Happy Holidays to all!