How to Combat Dust Mites in Your Mattress

Dust mites are related to spiders and scorpions and look like them too. Millions of them can live on your mattress at a time, even if you can’t see any of them with the naked eye. Dust mites can be found particularly in mattresses, carpets, and upholstery. Even though they are hard to detect and to kill, there are proactive measures you can take to prevent dust mites, and if you already have a dust mite infestation, there are still actions you can take to limit their impact and get rid of them.

Do not confuse dust mites with bed bugs. The major difference is that dust mites feed on dead human skin cells and pet dander, while bed bugs are parasites, attaching to your body and feeding on your blood. Dust mites are still dangerous too though, besides it being creepy just knowing they are in your mattress while you are sleeping. They can impact you if you have allergies or cause you to develop a new allergy. Dust mites when airborne can trigger asthma attacks, and the dust mite allergy can also trigger allergic rhinitis and eczema. Common symptoms include sneezing; runny or stuffy nose; red, itchy, or teary eyes; wheezing, coughing, shortness of breath, and tightness in chest; and itching.

So why are mattresses a common breeding ground for dust mites? Since humans shed 1.5 grams of dead skin cells a day and we spend a third of our lives on our mattresses, you can do the math! And by the way, just that 1.5 grams of dead skin cells each day feeds over a million dust mites a day. Yikes. As you can see, our mattresses are a playground for these little pests. Humidity and the perspiration your body causes when sleeping also contributes to the ideal dust mite habitat, warm and damp.

The best thing you can do is clean your mattress with specific techniques and pick the mattress that is best for someone with allergies. Latex mattresses tend to be a good option because they are hypoallergenic and naturally resist microbes. In fact, latex foam is also more breathable than traditional foam, trapping less heat, where a cooler environment curbs the growth and proliferation of dust mites. But whether you own a latex mattress or not, there are ways to maintain your mattress to keep it dust mite free.

Each morning, wait a while to make your bed. Yes, we just gave you permission to avoid this chore (but not for long). This gives your mattress time to air out. Every couple weeks, strip your bed entirely to let it breathe. While your at it, run the vacuum over the surface. When properly maintained, a mattress can last up to 7-10 years. If your mattress is creeping up in age, you may consider choosing a new mattress.  We hate to break it to you, but if you’ve had your mattress for more than 5 years, there are most definitely dust mites, bacteria, and other microorganisms that have crept their way into your mattress layers – no matter how clean you think you are.

Your sleep health is just as important important was your overall health. Make sure your sleeping structure is helping you achieve the best sleep possible, not making you sick.

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Smalls

What People With Allergies Should Look For in a Mattress

Allergies are no laughing matter. In fact, they can make your life miserable and lead to all manner of nasty side-effects. Many people are happy to find refuge from allergens in their own home where they can control the environment and everything that enters and leaves. But what happens when it turns out that something in your home is perhaps inherently allergen-prone? Let’s look at what you can do to keep your mattress as allergen-free as possible!

 

Best Builds and Materials

Picking a mattress made with the right materials is very important for allergy sufferers. Dust mites are an incredibly common cause of allergies in your bedroom, so you’ll want to opt for a mattress that doesn’t promote their proliferation. Mattresses with a coil spring core, for example, can create a veritable dust mite haven. Those with a foam core are less prone to these issues. You might also consider opting for a latex mattress as it’s naturally antimicrobial and hypoallergenic. Organic options might also be good for allergy-sufferers.

 

Understand the Cause of Your Allergies

In addition to the dust mites mentioned above, there are a few things that could be responsible for your allergies. Mold and mildew are notorious for triggering allergies, and they can begin to form without your knowledge. This is most common in areas that see heat and some form of moisture – and, unfortunately, body sweat and saliva fit the bill. That means that you need to take special care of your mattress and your pillows to ensure you aren’t accidentally promoting an unhealthy environment.

 

Tips to Keep Your Bedroom Allergen-Free

You might not be able to complete wipe allergens out of your room, of course, but there are certainly tips to keep them to a bare minimum. Pillow and mattress protectors can help quite a bit. You’ll want to look for barrier bedding that is designed to keep moisture out of your bed and pillows themselves. It’s much easier to wash bedding than an entire mattress, after all. You also need to wash your bedding frequently and at a high temperature at least every week. Keep your rugs, carpets, and curtains clean, too, to help eliminate dust mites or other critters that might be living in them from growing to a problematic number.

 

Finally, airing out your mattress regularly is a good way to help keep it fresh and low on allergens.

 

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Smalls

New Year's Resolutions

Better Health in 2019: 7 New Year’s Resolutions Anyone Can Achieve

Do you faithfully make New Year’s resolutions every year, or have you sworn off resolutions after making (and abandoning) the same New Year’s resolutions year after year? According to Happify, approximately 80 percent of us give up on our resolutions by the end of January, so it’s not hard to see why you’d get discouraged. However, that doesn’t mean New Year’s resolutions are bad — it just means you’re doing them wrong.

 

New Year’s resolutions aren’t about changing your life with one simple promise. Instead, they’re about making incremental improvements to your life every year so personal growth never halts. Resolutions don’t have to be complicated or lofty — in fact, it’s better if they’re not. Good New Year’s resolutions are meaningful, yet doable.

 

If you want a goal that motivates you toward a healthier lifestyle in 2019 without overwhelming yourself, you can’t beat these seven New Year’s resolutions.

Take Your Sick Days

Did you know that one in four people go to work when they’re sick? While some workers don’t have the benefit of paid sick days, many employees work while ill because they’re afraid of falling behind. The truth is, going to work when you’re sick kills productivity, slows recovery, and risks your colleagues’ health. If you earn sick days, you’re entitled to use them — so do it!

Stop Using Your Phone in Bed

We all do it — checking text messages, scrolling through social media, and watching videos from the comfort of our beds. However, bringing technology into the bedroom is bad for sleep. If you reach for your phone out of habit, charge it outside the bedroom.

Change Your Air Filter on Schedule

Changing your home’s HVAC air filter isn’t the most exciting New Year’s resolution, but it just might have the biggest impact on your health. Your home’s air filter is integral to controlling your home’s indoor air quality. Without it, the dust and allergens that enter your home have nowhere to go. Set a reminder to change the filter every one to two months for maximum allergen control.

Practice Positive Self-Talk

Negative self-talk is bad for your confidence. And when you’re not confident in yourself, you struggle to advance in your professional and personal life. When you catch yourself thinking negatively, flip the script and recite positive mantras. In addition to setting and achieving goals and taking care of yourself, positive self-talk is one of the best ways to boost your confidence.

Fix Your Posture

Good posture prevents back pain, makes you look better, and improves your breathing. Unfortunately, poor posture is a widespread problem for adults and children alike If your posture problems are severe, Harvard Health recommends seeing a physical therapist. If your posture just needs minor tweaking, use lumbar support in your office chair and set a timer that reminds you to change positions every 30 to 60 minutes.

Pack Your Lunch

Bringing your lunch to work improves your diet and your finances, but you don’t have to pack a brown bag every day to see benefits. Aim to pack a lunch one more day per week in 2019 than you did in 2018. As you get used to the practice, packing a lunch will feel like second nature.

Buy Greener Cleaners

Many families don’t realize that conventional household cleaners are bad for indoor air quality. As the American Lung Association explains, many cleaning products contain chemicals that pollute the air and worsen asthma and allergy symptoms. While it’s true that safer cleaning products can also be more expensive, people on a budget can make their own cleaners for less.

 

Don’t waste another New Year’s resolution on a goal you won’t commit to. We admit that these seven suggestions aren’t the most glamorous resolutions. However, it’s these types of practical, achievable goals that are most effective at changing your life for the better.

 

Written By Guest Blogger: Julia Merrill

Julia Merrill is on a mission. She wants to use information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that. The site offers an abundance of information from tips on finding the right medical care to help with dealing with insurance companies to general health and wellness advice and more.

Image via Burst

Nearly 1 in 12 U.S. Kids Has a Food Allergy

A new study from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago found that nearly 1 in 12, or 8 percent, of American children have food allergies. Further, of those children with food allergies, 1 in 5 of them will suffer an allergic reaction severe enough to wind up in the hospital. As food allergies become more common, they need to be taken more seriously to prevent children from visiting the emergency room.

The most common allergies are to peanuts, milk, shellfish, tree nuts, egg, fish, wheat, soy and sesame, said lead researcher Dr. Ruchi Gupta. Peanut is the most common food allergy, affecting about 2 million children, followed by milk (1 million), shellfish (1 million), tree nuts (1 million), eggs (nearly 1 million), fish (less than a half million), wheat and soy (.4 million) and sesame (.15 million), she said.

https://www.webmd.com/allergies/news/20181119/nearly-1-in-12-us-kids-has-a-food-allergy#1

Five Tips to Make Traveling with a Food Allergy Easier

As the holiday season quickly approaches, you might be thinking about making some travel plans. Maybe you’re thinking about traveling to a place that’s familiar, or want to catch some sight-seeing at a place far away.  Either way, it’s not always easy to travel and manage your food allergy, while enjoying local cuisine, but these 5 tips can make it a little easier for you.

  1. Carry a food allergy card in multiple languages

If you’re traveling somewhere where people may not share the same language as you it can be beneficial to carry a card that lists your food allergies in the language or languages spoken at your destination. Make sure that your cards clearly list which foods you can’t eat, rather than just stating what you’re allergic to.

  1. Order with extreme caution

According to Dr. Alyson Pidich, the medical director of the Ash Center, in New York City, and a food allergy specialist, you shouldn’t assume that what you’re eating is safe. Just because your trigger food isn’t listed on an ingredient list, doesn’t mean you should just assume that its fine. Certain foods and drinks, in particular, including sauces, salad dressings, soups and cocktails hide common allergens such as wheat, nuts, dairy and shellfish. It’s always better to be extra cautious.

  1. Bring your own food stash

It’s a smart idea to pack plenty of snacks and a few meal replacement options on your trip, if you can. There’s nothing worse than going hungry on your trip because you can’t find enough safe food to eat. Good options to pack are nonperishable foods like protein shakes, jerky, dried fruits, or nuts (if you aren’t allergic to nuts).

  1. Consider booking a hotel room or a Airbnb with a kitchen

Having access to a kitchen means you can prepare some meals for yourself. This also cuts down on the stress of not being able to find allergy-safe food to eat.

  1. Don’t forget your allergy medicine

Even if your food allergy isn’t severe, you shouldn’t leave home without your allergy medicine. Don’t assume you can buy what you need locally, depending on where you go. It’s better to have it and not need it, than to need it and not have it. You should also make sure to familiarize yourself with your destination’s rules and regulations about prescription (and nonprescription) medication, so you’ll make it through customs with your medicine.

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/28/travel/five-tips-to-make-traveling-with-a-food-allergy-easier.html

5 Steps to Help Make Dining Out with Allergies Easier

Dining out can be very difficult for individuals with food allergies. A new study found that the more steps you take to protect yourself from exposure, the less likely you are to have an allergic reaction.

The researchers asked 39 people with allergies (or their parents) about 25 behaviors people might do before eating out. Nineteen of those surveyed had experienced a food allergy reaction while dining at a restaurant. After examining the results, the researchers observed a few common strategies that people used to successfully avoid an allergic reaction while eating at a restaurant.

The top 5 strategies included:

  • Speaking to the waiter on arrival
  • Ordering food with simple ingredients
  • Double-checking food before eating
  • Avoiding restaurants with higher likelihood of contamination
  • Reviewing ingredients on a restaurant website

https://consumer.healthday.com/respiratory-and-allergy-information-2/food-allergy-news-16/dining-out-with-allergies-is-tough-but-these-steps-can-help-739703.html

What are Allergy Drops?

Allergy drops are also known as “sublingual immunotherapy”. Allergy drops are a convenient form of allergen immunotherapy that works by putting small amounts of allergen (the substances that cause your allergies) under your tongue. Specialized cells under the tongue called capture the allergens and signal the immune system to start building tolerance.  This is a similar idea to getting immunizations.  You subject yourself to a small amount of allergens every day- not enough for your body to have a major reaction- but just enough to tell your immune system to fight the allergies.

What are the benefits of allergy drops?

Allergy drops have been proven to be both safe and effective for many types of allergies. The drops typically begin relieving symptoms within the first year, but sometimes these effects are even noticed within a few months.

Once-a-day allergy drops are portable and easy to use. You may use them in the comfort of your own home. This will help you follow your treatment plan, and increase your ability to continue therapy as directed by your prescriber.

No need to worry about soreness from injections, or concerns with needles.

Who May Use Allergy Drops?

  • Children and adults
  • People with multiple allergies, including pollens, molds, pet dander, dust mites, or food
  • People who are not able to commit to weekly allergy shots or prefer a more convenient therapy
  • People with side effects to allergy medications or reactions to allergy shots
  • Allergic rhinitis, sinusitis, conjunctivitis or asthma sufferers

 

FDA: Make Sure Epi-Pens Don’t Get Stuck in Tube

According to manufacturer Pfizer Inc. and distributor Mylan, due to a defective label, a small number of EpiPen 0.3 mg and EpiPen Jr 0.15 mg auto-injectors and their authorized generics do not slide out of the tube easily. There are no issues with the device or the epinephrine inside.

People with an EpiPen should check to make sure it is not stuck in the carrier tube, according to a new warning from the manufacturer and federal health officials.

“It is vital for lifesaving products to work as designed in an emergency situation, and patients and caregivers should inspect their epinephrine auto-injector prior to needing it to ensure they can quickly access the product,” the Food and Drug Administration said in a safety alert.

Anyone with an auto-injector that does not easily slide out or one that has a label that only is partially adhered to the auto-injector should contact MylanCustomer Relations at 800-796-9526.

 

http://www.aappublications.org/news/2018/11/07/epipens110718

Why Cleaning Your Home Is a Health Habit

We all know the things we need to do to stay healthy, right? You eat well, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep, and practice good hygiene. But have you ever considered how your home might be affecting your health? Cleaning the house is often seen as a thankless chore, but it is actually just as much a part of a good well-being routine than going for a jog or brushing your teeth. Turns out there are quite a few health hazards lurking in your home, and a good cleaning routine is the only way to eliminate them.

 

Allergens and Pollutants

Enemy number one when it comes to allergens is dust. Dust is inevitable; it is a combination of skin particles, pet dander, sand, insect waste, dirt, food crumbs, and a variety of other products of everyday life. Most people get rid of dust as a matter of cleanliness, but it can also be dangerous.

And it’s not the only one. You may think pollution is just an outside problem, but your home’s air is also filled with pollutants. Even if there are no smokers in the house, air pollution can come from cooking food, candles, incense, and even the act of cleaning itself. All these micro-particles in the air can damage and irritate your respiratory systems and can be particularly damaging to children.

So how do you get rid of allergens and pollutants? Dust and dirt should be vacuumed and removed effectively, not just spread around, so make sure you have the right tools for dusting. Ventilation is key, so remember to open windows to air out rooms regularly, and make sure your kitchen fan is working effectively. You can also invest in an air purifier to clean the air you breathe every day.

 

Mold 

Mold is an annoyingly common phenomenon, especially in rooms which see a lot of moisture such as the bathroom and kitchen. It is also, according to the CDC, potentially harmful for your respiratory system. Some people experience allergy symptoms when living with mold, and some can even develop serious complications with their lungs.

Getting rid of mold or other ingrained stains often requires a proper deep clean, which can be time-consuming and exhausting. If you don’t have the time, patience, or ability to put in that much elbow grease into your cleaning, consider hiring a professional. A one-off full interior home cleaning in Appleton, WI, costs between $121 and $253, which can be well worth it for getting the hardest jobs done and leaving only basic ongoing maintenance for you to do.

 

Clutter Anxiety

Finally, there’s your mental health. Everyone has felt that elation when they finish cleaning: surfaces sparkle, the room smells fresh and clean, and everything is exactly where it should be. Turns out, there’s a reason for that wonderful feeling, and it’s not just pride at having actually cleaned.

Dirty, messy homes can trigger feelings of anxiety, according to Psychology Today expert Sherrie Bourg Carter. Clutter, mess, and general chaos in the home overwhelm the senses with unnecessary stimuli and can make you feel unfocused, stressed, guilty, and overwhelmed. When your house is uncluttered, your mind feels uncluttered as well.

The bad news is that you have to continue cleaning your house often. Unless you want to pay someone else to do it, there’s no way to avoid it. The good news is that you are not just doing it to make your house look good. Cleaning is an act of self-care and a health habit, one which will make you healthier and happier in both body and mind.

 

Written By Guest Blogger: Julia Merrill

Julia Merrill is on a mission. She wants to use information to close the gap between medical providers and their patients. She started BefriendYourDoc.org to do just that. The site offers an abundance of information from tips on finding the right medical care to help with dealing with insurance companies to general health and wellness advice and more.

 

New Concerns About Sesame Allergies

Sesame could become the newest allergen added to the list of foods required to be named on labels, US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Dr. Scott Gottlieb announced Monday. There are currently eight major food allergens that must be declared on US labeling using their common names: milk, eggs, fish, shellfish, tree nuts, peanuts, wheat and soybeans. These eight foods have accounted for over 90% of documented serious food allergies in the country when the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act was passed in 2004, which requires the clear labeling of ingredients.  Now the FDA is launching a formal request for information as it considers making sesame the ninth on the list.

“Unfortunately, we’re beginning to see evidence that sesame allergies may be a growing concern in the US,” Gottlieb said. “A handful of studies, for example, suggest that the prevalence of sesame allergies in the US is more than 0.1 percent, on par with allergies to soy and fish.” Over 300,000 Americans are currently affected by sesame allergies.

Sesame reactions vary from person to person and can be caused by as little as one or two sesame seeds.  Symptoms may vary but can include hives, dizziness, itching, stomach pain, nausea/vomiting, wheezing and breathing problems.  In severe cases, there is a risk of anaphylaxis or even death.  The possibility of such severe reactions is why the FDA believes that the labeling requirements for sesame need to change.

Currently, there are no food labeling requirements for sesame.  The issue for consumers is that sesame could be in an ingredient list under a word like tahini or a generic term like ‘natural flavor’.  Even the most careful consumer would have difficulty spotting the allergen under current labeling requirements.

The FDA is asking for information, specifically from epidemiologists, nutritionists, allergy researchers and physicians, “so we can learn more about the prevalence and severity of sesame allergies in the US, as well as the prevalence of sesame-containing foods sold in this country. These include foods that, under current regulations, may not be required to disclose sesame as an ingredient.”  The FDA is accepting comments from October 30 – December 31, 2018.