Posts in allergy
Allergies

Allergy season is back in the Pacific NW after a long, cold, wet, windy winter.  Beyond Claritin, Zyrtec and Benadryl, the best way to combat the itching, sneezing, runny nose days and nights is to abide by the LAWS of Allergy Hygiene.  Decrease your exposure, decrease your symptoms!

Allergy hygiene:

  • Keep your windows closed in your home and car to avoid letting in pollen, especially when the local pollen count is high. Set your air conditioners to re-circulate in your home and vehicle, to avoid drawing in outside pollen-rich air.
  • The pollen counts are the highest between 5am and 10am, so limiting your outside exposure during those times can be extremely helpful for diminishing your allergies.
  • Limit exposure on mornings that are especially warm and dry; these will usually be the high pollen count days. Days that are dry and windy also have high pollen counts. The best time for outdoor activities is immediately following a heavy rainfall.
  • Avoid line drying your clothes and bedding outdoors when your local pollen count is high.  Use an indoor rack instead.
  • Wash your face and hands after you’ve been outside to remove pollen. Also, change and wash clothes if they’ve been exposed to pollen.
  • Bathe and shampoo hair daily before going to bed to remove pollen from hair and skin in order to keep it off your bedding. Wash bedding in hot, soapy water once a week.
  • Minimize contact with items that have come in contact with pollen, such as pets and people that have spent a large amount of time outdoors.
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from pollen, and in severe allergy cases, wear a facemask when daily pollen counts are extremely high.

If you are in the Portland area and think you may have allergies, you can get allergy testing with one of the following clinics:

http://www.aadapc.com/

http://bakeraad.com/

http://www.allergyclinic.net/barzin-khalili-md

Swine Flu update

Good Morning! Well, it seems that we know a bit more about the Swine flu this week compared to last week.  It does not seem to be quite as contagious or deadly as originally suspected.  That being said, there are new cases every single day, and it's important that we keep ourselves healthy! Are you keeping your stress level down?  Well, you should be.  Stress can down-regulate your immune system.  Yoga, anyone?  Deep breathing?  How about a nice long walk (in the rain, for those of us here in the Pacific NW)?

Influenza can be contagious from one day before symptoms appear to 7 days after the onset of symptoms.  There are several other known strains of the flu going around right now in addition to the Swine flu.  Believe me, I've seen a LOT of people this week with the crud.  It's a bit late in the "flu season" for all this to be going around, but alas--it is.  It also happens to be high allergy season, and unfortunately this makes people more susceptible to things like the flu.  Here are some reminders from the CDC regarding contamination and cleaning to help decrease your chances of getting sick.

Contamination & Cleaning

Photo of hands and soapHow long can influenza virus remain viable on objects (such as books and doorknobs)? Studies have shown that influenza virus can survive on environmental surfaces and can infect a person for up to 2-8 hours after being deposited on the surface.

What kills influenza virus? Influenza virus is destroyed by heat (167-212°F [75-100°C]). In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. For example, wipes or gels with alcohol in them can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

What surfaces are most likely to be sources of contamination? Germs can be spread when a person touches something that is contaminated with germs and then touches his or her eyes, nose, or mouth. Droplets from a cough or sneeze of an infected person move through the air. Germs can be spread when a person touches respiratory droplets from another person on a surface like a desk, for example, and then touches their own eyes, mouth or nose before washing their hands.

How should waste disposal be handled to prevent the spread of influenza virus? To prevent the spread of influenza virus, it is recommended that tissues and other disposable items used by an infected person be thrown in the trash. Additionally, persons should wash their hands with soap and water after touching used tissues and similar waste.

Photo of cleaning suppliesWhat household cleaning should be done to prevent the spread of influenza virus? To prevent the spread of influenza virus it is important to keep surfaces (especially bedside tables, surfaces in the bathroom, kitchen counters and toys for children) clean by wiping them down with a household disinfectant according to directions on the product label.

How should linens, eating utensils and dishes of persons infected with influenza virus be handled? Linens, eating utensils, and dishes belonging to those who are sick do not need to be cleaned separately, but importantly these items should not be shared without washing thoroughly first. Linens (such as bed sheets and towels) should be washed by using household laundry soap and tumbled dry on a hot setting. Individuals should avoid “hugging” laundry prior to washing it to prevent contaminating themselves. Individuals should wash their hands with soap and water or alcohol-based hand rub immediately after handling dirty laundry.

Eating utensils should be washed either in a dishwasher or by hand with water and soap.

Spring Cleaning

Here in the Pacific NW, the cherry trees, daffodils, tulips, daphnes, rhododendrons, magnolias, and many other beautiful flowering trees and plants are blooming.  While this makes the area absolutely gorgeous, it also sends people into my office wondering how to stop the sneezing and itchy eyes. images

Fortunately, there some things you can do to make this time of year more enjoyable.

  • Get an air filter for your home so you are not exposed to pollens all night long while you sleep.
  • Take your shoes off before coming into the house---don't track the pollen in!  Ask others to do the same.
  • Wear sunglasses or other protective eye gear while you're out to minimize the amount of exposure--as you know, once you start itching your eyes, it's hard to stop.  This is because rubbing them recruits more histamine to the site, causing even more itching!
  • If you have carpets, get them cleaned at least every spring.  Or even better, replace them with hardwood or tiled floors, which are easier to keep clean.
  • Consider doing a "Spring Cleanse" for your body*.  By making sure your liver, kidneys, lungs, GI tract, and skin are all in good working order, you can decrease how reactive your body is to elements it is normally allergic to.

*any type cleansing or fasting should be supervised by a health care practitioner.  If you have not seen a doctor in the past year, please consult one before cleansing or fasting.

Cross-reactions

It's allergy season again, and for many people, this means fighting with sneezing, runny noses, congestion, and headaches until the pollen dissipates once again.  Did you know that what you eat can affect how reactive you are to pollen?

Oral allergy syndrome affects about 60% of adults who have seasonal allergies.  This means that when certain foods that cross-react with the inhaled pollens are eaten, a more severe reaction occurs.  Take a look at this chart showing the most common pollen-food cross-reactions:

Pollen Potential Cross-reactive Foods
Ragweed Bananas, melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew) zucchini, cucumber, dandelions, chamomile tea
Birch Apples, pears, peaches, apricots, cherries, plums, nectarines, prunes, kiwi, carrots, celery, potatoes, peppers, fennel, parsley, coriander, parsnips, hazelnuts, almonds, walnuts
Grass Peaches, celery, melons, tomatoes, oranges
Mugwort Celery, apple, kiwi, peanut, fennel, carrots, parsley, coriander, sunflower, peppers
Alder Celery, pears, apples, almonds, cherries, hazelnuts, peaches, parsley
Latex Bananas, avocado, kiwi, chestnut, papaya

I challenge you to give this a try.   Try eliminating your potential cross-reactors this allergy season, and experience less severe symptoms!