Monthly Archives: July 2011

Decorating to Reduce Allergies

Sometimes it’s the little things we do that can have some of the biggest impacts. Something as simple as the way you decorate your home could have a huge impact on your allergies. Our homes can be a haven for indoor allergy-triggers; but they don’t have to be. There are simple things you can do so you can breathe easier and feel better.

Objects/Flowers/Stuff

Reduce the number of dust-collecting objects that are sitting on your coffee table, side tables, mantle, nightstand, bureaus, and countertops. The more stuff there is, the harder it is to wipe down the surfaces of tables and countertops, and dust starts to accumulate on those surfaces as well as on the objects. Put objects, books, and toys inside drawers, cupboards, and chests when they are not being used. Remove scented candles and potpourri; synthetic fragrances are typical culprits for allergic rhinitis. Avoid keeping fresh flowers in the home, since pollen can trigger allergy. Instead, use live green plants which are actually beneficial as well as ornamental, as they help clean the air. Although be careful having plants in the bathroom, since they could promote the growth of mold.

Flooring

Avoid carpeting. Carpets can hold on to every kind of allergen and asthma trigger, including dust mite allergen, pet dander, mold spores, pollen, and chemicals from pesticides and fertilizers–pretty much anything that can be tracked in to your house on shoes. Even with diligent vacuuming with an Allergy and Asthma Certified vacuum cleaner, carpeting is much harder to keep free of allergens than other flooring alternatives. So rip out your carpet and, if you have hardwood floors underneath, lucky you! A simple DIY refinish is likely all that’s necessary. If you do not have hardwood under your carpets, consider natural flooring options like linoleum, bamboo flooring, or other eco-friendly materials.

Windows

Avoid heavy drapes, especially if they are dry-clean only. Drapes are notorious for hanging on to dust and other allergens. Drapery that needs to be dry-cleaned rarely gets washed. And when it does, you’ll be bringing chemicals into your home, polluting indoor air, and possibly triggering asthma or multiple chemical sensitivities. Instead, use curtains that you can throw in the washer so they can get washed frequently. Blinds are also a good option; although, you must remember to frequently dust them.

Furniture

Choose leather. While the initial cost to purchase leather rather than upholstered furniture may be higher, consider it an investment against allergies. Upholstered furniture is a hotbed for allergens, which penetrate far beyond the reach of any vacuum. Leather furniture, on the other hand, is impermeable. Dust mites can’t live in it, and other allergens like pollen, pet dander, and mold spores can’t take up residence in it either. If you do have upholstered furniture, in addition to regular vacuuming, use a steam cleaner frequently to denature allergens that the vacuum may not be able to reach. Its important to use a steam vapor cleaner, because the high temperatures of the steam ensures that it evaporates quickly and won’t leave behind moisture that could lead to mold growth.

Bedding

Use allergy relief bedding. Allergy covers are among the most heavily endorsed allergy relief products by allergists. They should be the foundation of your bedroom decorating plan. Cover mattresses, bedsprings, and pillows with allergy relief bedding sets. Washable wool blankets and natural wool mattress pads are good allergy-free bedding options which are warm in winter and breathe in summer. Additional allergy relief bedding, like an allergy duvet or comforter cover, should be used to supplement your environmental control measures.

Paint

Use green paint. The fumes from conventional paint can cause headaches and respiratory problems even for people who do not normally suffer from allergies. Look for paints that are low in or free from volatile organic compounds (VOCs). If possible, go for water-based paints that have natural pigments as well.

Cleaning

Clean and dust your home regularly. To help you remember, add these tasks to your calendar. Do not use dust brushes or dust rags as they simply disrupt dust and send it swirling around the air. Rather, use natural organic cleaning products, warm water and a soft rag for dusting. Use anti-allergen, fragrance-free laundry detergents or additives when you wash curtains and rugs. There are anti-allergen products that ensure dust mites are controlled, even if you can’t use hot water.

Take a look around your home and begin by making a list of changes you’d like to make. It doesn’t all have to happen immediately, just start with one thing at a time. Implementing these allergen reduction measures in your home will go a long way in making your house as allergy friendly as possible, and best of all, will have you breathing better in no time!

 

References:

http://www.achooallergy.com/decorating-minimize-allergies.asp

http://www.everydayhealth.com/allergies/home-decorating.aspx

http://www.treeliving.com/allergy-reducing-decoration-ideas

St. Joseph Health System Partners with ImmuneTech to Provide Innovative Allergy Testing Through Workplace Health Initiative Service

PRESS RELEASE

ImmuneTech Allergy Diagnostic Test Ideal for Corporate and Community Health Setting

Foster City, CA – July 12, 2011 – St. Joseph Health System in Sonoma County, California, will offer an innovative, simple allergy diagnostic test to employers who partner with the health care provider to improve the health and well-being of their workforce.

Allergies are an under-recognized epidemic.  They affect 1 in 4 people in the United States and only 14% are properly diagnosed.  There is a general lack of understanding about allergies and how they contribute to other health issues such as asthma, digestive disorders, migraines, eczema, etc.

Studies have shown that allergic disease is a key driver of presenteesim, absenteeism and direct medical costs.  Allergies have a tremendous impact on productivity and the bottom line. Companies are starting to look at health as an investment and are finding ways to help employees proactively manage some of their health related issues. Until now, there has not been a practical way to incorporate allergy testing into wellness programs, and coupled with recommended treatment, can lead to a significant increase in employee efficiency and reduction in sick days.

ImmuneTech, Inc., an emerging life science company, has developed a simplified yet effective test that also provides a personal comprehensive plan on how to better manage the allergies that are diagnosed.  The test is conducted with a simple finger stick.  It is FDA cleared and clinically proven to be as accurate as blood tests performed by major laboratories or at a physician’s office.

St. Joseph Health System provides health and wellness services in and beyond Sonoma County.  The organization operates Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital and Petaluma Valley Hospital, in addition to numerous non-acute outpatient services and community health programs.  By providing ImmuneTech’s allergy test, St. Joseph Health System’s workforce wellness outreach program aims to raise awareness about allergies and enable individuals to identify chronic allergy symptoms so these symptoms can be proactively managed.

St. Joseph recently conducted allergy screenings at the 2011 Wine Country Senior Games, LEMO USA and Parkview Gardens, all with great success.

“Allergies are an unspoken burden to society,” said Jeannie Calverley, Employer Relations Specialist, Workforce Health Initiative, St. Joseph Health System – Sonoma County. “Offering the public an accessible and simple way to detect allergies can have a tremendous effect by helping individuals identify and act upon their specific needs to treat, manage and prevent allergies.”

“ImmuneTech is committed to seeing allergy testing not only become more accessible but also to providing individuals with tools to control their allergies and not have their allergies control them,” said Lisa Elkins, CEO of ImmuneTech. “We are very excited about the opportunity to partner with St. Joseph Health System to provide health-related solutions to the public.”

 

About St. Joseph Health System

St. Joseph Health System – Sonoma County (SJHS-SC) is an integrated healthcare delivery organization sponsored by the St. Joseph Health Ministry. Its mission is to extend the healing ministry of Jesus Christ in the tradition of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange by improving the health and quality of life of the communities it serves. Entities include Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital, Petaluma Valley Hospital, Memorial Hospice, Hospice of Petaluma, St. Joseph Urgent Care Centers, and St. Joseph Home Care Network. SJHS-SC’s employees offer residents of the Redwood Empire a spectrum of healthcare services. These include general acute care hospital services, trauma services, urgent care services, health prevention and promotion, outpatient behavioral health care, palliative care, rehabilitation, home care, and community benefit programs that improve the health of our communities and the quality of life in Sonoma County.

 

About ImmuneTech

ImmuneTech (www.immunetech.com) is a leading healthcare technology company focused on improving accessibility and affordability to the broader population in the area of allergy diagnostics

Microscopic bugs & allergies?

Just the thought of microscopic bugs living in my pillow, sofa, or carpet is enough to give me the creeps! These little creatures live uninvited in our homes. Yikes!  Dust mites are microscope bugs that primarily live on dead skin cells regularly shed from humans and their animal pets. Dust mites are generally harmless to most people. They don’t carry diseases, but they can cause allergic reactions in asthmatics and others who are allergic to their feces.

According to the American College of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology, approximately 10 percent of Americans exhibit allergic sensitivity to dust mites. In the spring, pollen aggravates allergies, and dust mite infestations make it worse. The fall and winter months are a particular problem, as we close up our houses and the concentrations of dust mites and their feces increases inside.

Skin cells and scales, commonly called dander, are often concentrated inside your home in areas that are soft with cushions and pillows. These cushioned areas not only are excellent collectors for dead skin cells and dander, but also provide wonderful homes for dust mites. The average human sloughs off 1/3 ounce (10 grams) of dead skin a week. That gives dust mites a lot to eat. Cats and dogs create far more dander for dust mites to eat.

A typical mattress can contain tens of thousands of dust mites. Nearly 100,000 mites can live in one square yard of carpet. These little creatures eat like crazy! A single dust mite produces about 20 waste droppings each day, each containing a protein to which many people are allergic. Yuck! The proteins in that combination of feces and shed skin are what cause allergic reactions in humans. Depending on the person and exposure, reactions can range from itchy eyes to asthma attacks. The good news, though, is unlike other types of mites, house dust mites are not parasites, since they only eat dead tissue.

Dust Mite Colony

Dust Mite Colony

Dust mite allergy symptoms caused by inflammation of nasal passages include:

    • Sneezing
    • Runny nose
    • Itchy, red or watery eyes
    • Nasal congestion
    • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat
    • Postnasal drip
    • Cough
    • Facial pressure and pain
    • Frequent awakening
    • Swollen, blue-colored skin under your eyes
    • In a child, frequent upward rubbing of the nose

If your dust mite allergy contributes to asthma, you may also experience:

      • Difficulty breathing
      • Chest tightness or pain
      • An audible whistling or wheezing sound when exhaling
      • Trouble sleeping caused by shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing
      • Bouts of coughing or wheezing that are worsened by a respiratory virus such as a cold or the flu

A dust mite allergy can range from mild to severe. A mild case of dust mite allergy may cause an occasional runny nose, watery eyes and sneezing. In severe cases, the condition may be ongoing, or chronic, resulting in persistent sneezing, cough, congestion, facial pressure or severe asthma attack.

Some signs and symptoms of dust mite allergy, such as a runny nose or sneezing, are similar to those of the common cold. Sometimes it’s difficult to know whether you have a cold or an allergy. If symptoms persist for more than one week, you might have an allergy. If you think you have an allergy, it is always best to get tested to confirm or deny that allergy.

ImmuneTech has an allergy test which you can order online and provide a little finger stick blood sample in the comfort of your home. This sample is then returned to ImmuneTech and is processed using complex technology to determine your allergies. You can order the test from www.immunetech.com. Use code ILG for a 15% discount! Another option for testing allergies is to see an allergist. Regardless how you choose to get tested for allergies, the key is to get tested!

If you do test positive for dust mite allergies, beyond taking medications that may be prescribed by your physician, there are things you can do to reduce the amount of dust mites in your home. Actually, I think these are great ideas whether or not one has dust mite allergies! I think reducing the number of these little creatures in my home is a good thing, regardless!

While you can’t completely eliminate dust mites from your home, you can significantly reduce their number. Use these suggestions:

      • Use allergen-proof bed covers. Cover your mattress and pillows in dust-proof or allergen-blocking covers. These covers, made of tightly woven fabric, prevent dust mites from colonizing or escaping from the mattress or pillows. Encase box springs in allergen-proof covers.
      • Wash bedding weekly. Wash all sheets, blankets, pillowcases and bedcovers in hot water that is at least 130 F (54.4 C) to kill dust mites and remove allergens. If bedding can’t be washed hot, put the items in the drier for at least 20 minutes at a temperature above 130 F (54.4 C) to kill the mites. Then wash and dry the bedding to remove allergens. Freezing non-washable items for 24 hours also can kill dust mites, but this won’t remove the allergens.
      • Keep humidity low. Maintain a relative humidity between 30 and 50 percent in your home. A dehumidifier or air conditioner can help keep humidity low, and a hygrometer (available at hardware stores) can measure humidity levels.
      • Choose bedding wisely. Avoid bedcovers that trap dust easily and are difficult to clean frequently.
      • Buy washable stuffed toys. Wash them often in hot water and dry thoroughly. Also, keep stuffed toys off beds.
      • Remove dust. Use a damp or oiled mop or rag rather than dry materials to clean up dust. This prevents dust from becoming airborne and resettling.
      • Vacuum regularly. Vacuuming carpeting and upholstered furniture removes surface dust — but vacuuming isn’t effective at removing most dust mites and dust mite allergens. Use a vacuum cleaner with a double-layered microfilter bag or a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to help decrease house-dust emissions from the cleaner. If your allergies are severe, leave the area being vacuumed while someone else does the dirty work. Stay out of the vacuumed room for 20 minutes after vacuuming.
      • Cut clutter. If it collects dust, it also collects dust mites. Remove knickknacks, tabletop ornaments, books, magazines and newspapers from your bedroom.
      • Remove carpeting and other dust mite habitats. Carpeting provides a comfortable habitat for dust mites. This is especially true if carpeting is over concrete, which holds moisture easily and provides a humid environment for mites. If possible, replace wall-to-wall bedroom carpeting with tile, wood, linoleum or vinyl flooring. Consider replacing other dust-collecting furnishings in bedrooms, such upholstered furniture, non-washable curtains and horizontal blinds.

References:

http://www.dust-mite.net/dust-mites-pictures/

http://www.ehso.com/ehshome/dustmites.php

http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/dust-mites/DS00842