If so, it might be more than just the winter cold. A spike in respiratory-related emergency room visits around Christmas caused experts to take a closer look at possible related causes. They discovered that cold, flu, and asthma-type symptoms during the holiday season may have their root cause in Christmas trees. But it’s generally not the tree itself that causes these “real Christmas tree allergies.”
In 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.
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.
It 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.
While 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 those 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.
Spring is finally here, and I’m ready to enjoy the nice weather with a run or bike ride outside. There’s only one problem—or maybe millions of tiny ones—pollen! If you have pollen allergies like I do, I’m sure you know how quickly a workout can be ruined by allergy symptoms like sneezing, itchy eyes, or even shortness of breath.
You can do more than enjoy the view from inside the gym though, so lace up your running shoes and get outside! These tips can help you keep pollen allergy symptoms at bay while exercising outdoors:
- Know your triggers. Most runners and cyclists take regular routes. If you notice your symptoms flaring up at certain points on your route, there may be a large concentration of trees or other plants producing pollens that aggravate your allergies. Take notice of the plants and trees around you, and discuss them with your doctor. An allergy test can also be helpful at determining precise triggers. You may even consider altering your route. Read more tips
With the spring travel season in full swing, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA) has released its annual “2013 Spring Allergy Capitals” list. For the past 10 years, the AAFA has ranked the worst 100 continental U.S. cities for people with allergies. This year, Jackson, MS, takes top honors on the list. However, several popular vacation destinations made their way into the top 25, including Louisville, New Orleans, Virginia Beach, Chattanooga, Memphis, Oklahoma City, and Knoxville. Furthermore, a Discovery Fit & Health article points out that the Eastern, Southern, and Midwestern states are generally worse in the springtime for those with allergy sensitivities.
While these areas may be the worst offenders, no vacation destination can truly be allergy-free. Why? Well, just like many of us, pollen is pretty good at traveling. These tiny airborne particles can travel by wind, as well as by settling on the bodies of insects and other animals. Pollen can even be an unwelcome travel companion by settling on your clothes, in your hair, and even on your skin. Plus, regardless of your travel plans, there’s always the possibility of encountering mold and other allergens.
Fortunately, these simple tips can help you reduce pollen exposure and allergy symptoms so you can enjoy your vacation from beginning to end:
- Plan to vacation at a beach or on a cruise, if possible. These getaways tend to be easier on allergy sufferers.
- Monitor the pollen counts of your intended destination before and during your vacation. Read more tips to keep your vacation allergy-free.
Each month we feature Air Quality Evangelists who offer helpful information to people regarding the importance of air quality. These Evangelists make clean air (and a healthy environment) a priority in their lives. We appreciate the information they provide, so let’s hear from November’s winners who discuss everything from allergies to reducing toxins in your home.
Scientific American Blog Network – Observations
If you haven’t heard of the Scientific American, then you’re one of the few. It’s read in print by nearly 4 million people a year and has long been a leading source for science, technology, and policy information.
Last July it launched the Scientific American Blog Network, which has quickly become the go-to hub for various editorial, community, and opinion blogs. Their wide range of topics include Energy & Sustainability, Health, Evolution, and Technology. “Observations” posts feature opinions and analysis from Scientific American editors.
Warmer weather is increasing pollen counts across the country, and this winning “Observations” post analyzes research about climate change and its influence on seasonal allergies. Research suggests allergy issues increase significantly with climate change and will only get worse moving forward. Allergy season will start earlier and affect a larger segment of the population, so review the findings and what they mean for you. Learn More About November's Air Quality Evangelists!
The weather is cooling down, and for many of us, that means our pets will be spending much more time inside. Unfortunately, our beloved furry friends can bring in a lot of allergens – especially when it comes to their hair and dander.
Even those of us who don’t have these allergies should aim to diminish pet hair and dander in the home to keep the indoor air as pure as possible. Plus your pet-allergic friends will thank you!
Fortunately, we can enjoy our pets’ company without suffering from reduced indoor air quality.
This is one of the busiest travel weeks of the year, and millions of Americans are flying to visit friends and family. In addition to Thanksgiving, a growing number of people are vacationing over the holiday weekend. Between the close quarters, air quality issues, and peanuts being tossed around, airplanes have long been a concern for people with all types of allergies.
People believe air quality on planes is an issue because the air is recirculated and windows can’t be opened for ventilation. Stagnant air only gets worse when air circulators are turned off as passengers board or when planes sit for long periods of time. This reused, dry air can cause problems for passengers.
General illness can easily be spread on planes because of a lack of air circulation and confined space. Airplane toilets, soap dispensers, and tray tables can also harbor infectious germs.
Peanut and other food allergies are a concern since reactions can be as extreme as death (although it’s rare). Allergic reactions to food can be triggered by touch, so the close quarters make airplanes a worry for some travelers. Find Out What Airlines Are Doing, What You Can Do, and What Cites You Should Consider Visiting!
Traveling around the holidays is unavoidable for people across the US. Some travelers are lucky (or unlucky?) enough to stay with relatives, but others don’t have that option or prefer to stay in a hotel.
The problem with hotels is that you never know what you’re walking into. Several chains don’t clean their rooms properly let alone have allergen controls in place. This can mean a less than enjoyable experience for people like me who suffer from allergies. So what are our options? Are we doomed to the basement couch this holiday season? Based on our research, the answer is no. See the Top 5 Hotel Chains for Allergy-Sufferers!
The only thing more disgusting than walking on a grimy floor is “cleaning” it with the same old dirty mop and filthy pail of water. Sure the bucket of water starts out smelling fresh and looking soapy, but by the time you reach the middle of the floor, what was once a bucket of fresh suds has become a cold, gray bacteria fest. And to think we actually dip a spongy mop into that “water” and smear it all over our tile or hardwood floors. Yuck!
It’s ok, we’re all guilty. But there is a better way. A chemical-free, eco-conscious, allergy- and asthma-friendly way. More hygienic than a traditional floor mop and more cost-effective and durable than disposable Swiffer sweepers, a steam cleaner is a healthy way to truly clean your floors of dirt and grime without releasing pollutants from chemical detergents into your indoor environment.
When dealing with allergies, it can often seem like the symptoms come out of nowhere and the causes are even more difficult to pinpoint. If you have been diligent about keeping surfaces free of dust and debris, washing your hands frequently, removing your shoes before entering your home, and washing your hair daily, along with taking other precautions to reduce pollen particles in your indoor environment, yet your allergy symptoms still persist, you could be targeting the wrong allergy.
According to WebMD, you could be among the 5% of Americans who suffer from mold allergies. Mold allergies trigger many of the same reactions as pollen and dust allergies, such as itchy eyes, irritated skin, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, and even asthma attacks. People often experience allergy symptoms in their home due to the presence of mold, which often results from excess humidity. Dehumidifiers offer an effective, simple solution for controlling excess moisture—and mold.
Find out more about dehumidifiers and mold allergies
Last week, I woke up with a stuffy head and puffy eyes. “Surely, pollen season hasn’t already started,” I thought. Wrong. The significant jump in temperature over the last couple of weeks prompted dormant trees to wake up and shake off their pollen, which resulted in a pollen count of 742. According to an Atlanta Journal Constitution article, there were no high pollen days in February 2010 and the highest February pollen count in 2009 was 386. Luckily, I had my trusty air purifier ready to go.
Unfortunately, Atlanta isn’t the only U.S. city facing the early onslaught of pollen. Many towns and cities across the southern and southwestern areas of the U.S. are dealing with medium to high levels of pollen, according to Pollen.com. So what’s going on?
Find out more about controlling pollen with air purifiers
- Did you know that an estimated 60 million people are affected by allergies and asthma? That’s more than Parkinson’s, coronary heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer’s, cancer, and diabetes combined.
- Did you know that asthma is one of the most common serious chronic childhood diseases and the third-ranking cause of hospitalization among children under 15?
Flowers are blooming, the sun is shining, the weather is warm, and the air is filled with pollen — lots of pollen. For allergy-sufferers across the country, especially in the southern and northeastern United States, the 2010 pollen season is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent history. Last week, The Weather Channel reported pollen counts as high as 5,733 in Atlanta. A typical high pollen count is around 120.
Experts attribute this onslaught of pollen to an unusually cold winter followed by the late of arrival of spring, and higher than average spring temperatures. As a result, trees, flowers, and other plants are all blooming at once, leaving a thick yellow coat in their wake and causing millions to sneeze, cough, itch, and experience other unpleasant allergy symptoms. With grass and weed allergies right around the corner, will allergy-sufferers get to enjoy any of this beautiful spring and summer weather?
Read more to find out how allergy-sufferers can enjoy this spring and summer
April is National Gardening Month, and this is a time for us to celebrate the benefits of gardening, such as stress relief, building a greener planet, improved attitudes toward health and nutrition and, of course, beautiful landscapes to admire. Gardening for allergy-sufferers, however, can be a frustrating activity — if not avoided altogether! Using the following tips and taking these simple precautions can help you enjoy all that gardening has to offer.
Read more tips for gardening with allergies