What is Relative Humidity?

Keep your indoor relative humidity below 50 percent to avoid growth of mold and dust mites. That’s standard advice for allergy sufferers. But what exactly is relative humidity?

Relative humidity is a measurement of the amount of water vapor in the air expressed as a percentage of how much water vapor the air could hold. If relative humidity is 100 percent, for example, then it’s raining. Most people are comfortable with an indoor relative humidity of 45 to 50 percent. When relative humidity goes above 50 percent, the excess moisture in the air makes it easier for mold and dust mites to spread. Continue reading…

Cockroaches: The Forgotten Allergens

Most allergy sufferers are familiar with dust mites, pollen, mold, but did you know that cockroaches also produce powerful allergens? Cockroach allergen is also a common cause of asthma attacks. The Allergy and Asthma Foundation of American (AAFA) reports that 23 to 60 percent of urban residents with asthma are sensitive to cockroach allergen. In one study of inner city children, 23 percent were allergic to cats, 35 percent were allergic to dust mites, and 37 percent were allergic to cockroaches.

Cockroach allergens come from the feces, saliva, and bodies of the insects. Studies show that 78 to 98 percent of urban homes have cockroaches – and up to 330,000 roaches may live in a single home! If you see just one roach in a basement or kitchen, it’s safe to assume that at least 800 more roaches are hiding under sinks, in cabinets, and behind walls. Continue reading…

Treat Child Eczema at Home

Eczema affects up to 20 percent of U.S. children. Child eczema usually appears between two and six months of age and runs in families with a history of allergies and asthma. The dry, red, itchy skin patches often begin on the face and spread to other parts of the body.

There is no cure for eczema, but there are many ways to treat child eczema at home. Continue reading…

Anxiety and Stress Make Allergies Worse

Even a slight increase in stress and anxiety can substantially worsen allergic reactions to common allergens, according to a new study from Ohio State University. Anxiety and stress also cause the allergic reaction to last longer.

Anxiety can also trigger late phase reactions which appear hours after exposure to the allergen (typically the next day).

“What’s interesting about this is that it shows that being stressed can cause a person’s allergies to worsen the next day,” explains researcher Janice Kiecolt-Glaser. “This is clinically important for patients since most of what we do to treat allergies is to take antihistimines to control the symptoms – runny nose, watery, itchy eyes, and congestion.” Continue reading…