Chemical Air Freshening: Pleasant Smells, Harmful Side Effects

Two of my favorite things in life are cooking and spending time with my pets. Unfortunately (and despite my best efforts), they both can cause pretty pungent odors in my home. For years, plug-in and aerosol air fresheners were my go-to solution. But after a while I noticed these “fresh smells” often coincided with headaches and allergy flare-ups. I dug a little deeper and didn’t like what I read—luckily I found better ways to keep my home healthy and odor-free.

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Allergic to the Cold?

As a native southerner, I often say I’m allergic to the cold. Until recently, I had no idea this was not only an actual condition, but one with life-threatening consequences. After learning about Cara Yacino’s journey to a cold urticaria diagnosis and the precautions she takes to control her risk of an allergic reaction, I’ll think twice before carelessly claiming a cold allergy.

According to the Weather Channel’s video that chronicles her allergy (below), Yacino began experiencing hives that she originally thought were due to a food allergy. The initial outbreak occurred while she was drinking a cold coffee drink. However, the hives manifested once more when Yacino put her hand in a cold shark and ray petting tank. Continue reading…

Fall Allergies: The Other Autumn Garden Pest

Fall Gardening WorkingCool, pleasant autumn weather prompted my husband to suggest we get our yard and garden ready for fall. Later on, he complained of itchy eyes and a stuffy nose. “It feels like my allergies are acting up,” he said. “Do fall allergies exist?”

The short answer: Absolutely. According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, of the people allergic to pollen-producing plants, about 75% have sensitivity to ragweed—one of the primary fall allergy culprits. In fact, the AAFA estimates that 10-20% of Americans suffer from itchy eyes, irritated skin, runny noses, and even interrupted sleep as result of ragweed pollen.air-quality-plants

In addition to wind-borne pollen, mold also presents a significant source of aggravation for fall allergy-sufferers. The combination of rain and fallen leaves creates a breeding ground for mold.

Despite these seemingly grim odds, it’s still possible to enjoy fall weather in your garden! Check out these tips.

  1. Consult your allergist. From the first itch or sneeze, talk to your doctor and devise a plan for keeping your fall allergies under control. If this fall marks your Woman Tending to Gardenfirst experience with pollen and mold irritations, a visit with the allergist is essential for finding your allergy triggers.
  2. Dress appropriately. Wear long sleeves and pants to keep pollen and mold spores away from your skin. Gardening gloves not only help you avoid unsightly cuts and blisters but offer a great line of defense against allergens. Sunglasses and a hat are also ideal for keeping airborne irritants away from eyes and hair, respectively. Continue reading…

Sunglasses: The Ultimate Allergen Fighter?

sunglasses fight allergiesIn school, I was the only kid who dreaded having class outside on a nice day. I don’t hate nature, but this usually meant sitting in the grass for at least an hour…and unfortunately, I’m allergic to both pollen and grass. It isn’t that I can’t go in my yard (although it’s a good excuse to get out of yardwork), but if I sit in the grass for long periods of time my eyes itch, get red, and have even swollen shut. It’s very glamorous.

Who knew reading Men’s Health magazine could have potentially saved me a lot of trouble? They recently published an article offering one of the coolest ways to fight allergy symptoms: wearing sunglasses. That’s right, rocking sunglasses (the larger the better!) can help ward off allergy symptoms.enjoying the sunlight

As strange as it may sound, wearing shades physically blocks out pollen, UV rays (which can stimulate symptoms), and other allergens. And it turns out this is pretty well known.

Participants in the study mentioned in Men’s Health wore large, wrap-around sunglasses, but doctors and other experts seem to agree that any type of sunglasses may help—if only slightly.

Sunglasses help by decreasing the amount of air that circulates over your eyes—which helps keep allergens from directly touching them. Since light exposure can increase allergy symptoms in your eyes, standard UV-blocking shades may even help control symptoms. Your eyes and nose are directly connected, so blocking your eyes will help keep your nose clear as well.

sunglasses help fight allergiesIt makes sense if you think about it: The less allergens that touch your eyes, the better. So wear those big aviators all the time—they’re more than just a fashion statement. And if you’re an allergy-sufferer like me, you’ll take any bit of help you can get.

Have you noticed sunglasses providing any other useful purpose? Know another strange way to help fight off allergy symptoms? Tell us in the comments below or connect with us on Facebook and Twitter.

Children, Friendships…and Allergies?

children-readingWhile a lot of attention is given to solutions and proactive steps for dealing with allergies, asthma, and other problems related to environmental issues, we often neglect the social aspects of living with these health issues. For children with allergies, asthma, or similar symptoms, these daily struggles can be even more frustrating. On top of avoiding environmental triggers and keeping an epi pen or inhaler handy, many young allergy- and asthma-sufferers are also tasked with explaining these flare-ups to friends, teachers, and even other parents.

Luckily, there are resources to help you talk to your children about allergies and asthma in fun, creative ways, as well as how to be considerate of taking-asthma-to-schoolthose dealing with these issues. For example, Taking Asthma to School by Kim Gosselin is actually written for children without asthma to help them understand asthmatic students and what happens when they get occasional shortness of breath. This illustrated book also contains “Ten Tips for Teachers” and a fun quiz.

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