Spring is here and so is the start of allergy season. If you are suffering with itchy, watery eyes along with nasal congestion and are unsure what to do, here is some advice from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA).
EmpowHer interviewed Brian Oliver from AAFA to discuss the steps someone should take if they are new to allergy symptoms. Brian said, “We suggest you go see an allergist. That is the only way you are going to figure out what is really going on.”
“Fifty percent of people self diagnose and treat their own allergies but they don’t really know what they are allergic to.”
Brian went on to say, “ The allergen may be indoors or outdoors. If you go see a doctor, he will be able to develop an action plan to control your exposure and prevent future exposures.”
People spend 75 percent of their time indoors so attention to your indoor environment is very important. The top indoor allergens are pet dander and dust mites.
There are a few of ways people can reduce their exposure to indoor allergens.
First, use an indoor portable air purifier filter with a True HEPA filter that safely eliminates 99.97 percent of indoor air particles like pollen, dust and pet dander.
This is particularly important in the bedroom as it can help clear the air you breathe when you are sleeping. Animals that sleep in the bedroom shed their dander, which contains allergens, onto the bed. It is best to keep animals out of the bedroom but if you can’t, wash linens frequently.
Second, thoroughly check, clean and protect your bedding.
People tend to have the same pillows and bedding for years and they can become contaminated with allergens. Pillows and mattresses should be protected with certified covers to prevent dust mite exposure while you sleep.
Third, vacuum thoroughly and vacuum often.
The vacuum cleaner should have a HEPA filter and be certified by AAFA. It should offer minimal exposure to contents during canister emptying or bag changing.
AAFA has a special website that shows a variety of products that have met their standards for certification through independent testing. Those products will have an orange and teal stamp on them. To look up any product to see if it is on the list, go to http://www.asthmaandallergyfriendly.com/
The central website for AAFA has listing of support groups, clinics and educational information to assist patients and families manage their asthma or allergy symptoms at http://www.aafa.org/ The support groups can be most helpful in locating food or allergy resources.
The central website also has an “Ask an Allergist” page. Brian said that questions emailed to the doctor will receive general information and advice but that specific individual questions should be addressed to the patient’s doctor.
EmpowHer and Brian discussed what parents should do about allergies in children. Brian stressed that it is important for parents to pursue allergy testing and there are new testing methods for kids, which make the experience less fearful.
Additionally, if a child is susceptible to a food allergy, then with early testing a parent can find this out before experiencing an episode. Food allergy reactions can be life threatening.
The final message Brian wanted readers to know is that allergens can slip in from unexpected sources and it is important to be hypervigiliant if you are susceptible.
He remarked about how on a cool night, a person may wear a jacket, which becomes exposed to pollen but then the jacket is hung up and never washed like the rest of the clothes. The same thing happens with allergens attaching themselves to our shoes.
“It is important to do extra vacuuming, even on smooth leather couches, because pollen can get caught anywhere.”
Interview with Brian Scott Oliver, M.B.A.
Senior Marketing & Corporate Relations Manager May 5, 2014.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA)
Asthma & Allergy Friendly Certification Program http://www.asthmaandallergyfriendly.com
Michele is an R.N. freelance writer with a special interest in woman’s healthcare and quality of care issues. Other articles by Michele are at www.helium.com/users/487540/show_articles
Edited by Jody Smith