Link Between Sleep Apnea and Allergies

Getting enough sleep each night is imperative … not only to how we perform the next day, but also to our mental, physical, and emotional well-being. But what happens when you go to bed at night, and the next morning your partner tells you that your snoring kept them up – or you’ve woken your own self up from snoring so loudly? Its something we often joke about, but there are serious medical complications that come along with snoring.

When you snore, you are essentially stopping the breath from flowing freely as it should. Otherwise known as sleep apnea, the typical symptoms include things like gasping for air while you are sleeping, waking up with a dry mouth, being overly tired during the day, snoring loudly, and periods of time during sleep when you actually aren’t breathing at all – which would be noticed by someone else.

With approximately 22 million Americans that are currently suffering from sleep apnea, it’s vital to know what causes it, and how we can treat it effectively. There are three different types of sleep apnea that are able to be diagnosed, but the most common is called obstructive sleep apnea, or OSA. This type of sleep apnea occurs when the muscles in the throat are relaxed, which then narrows the airway; when this happens, your body realizes that you aren’t getting enough air, and awakens you so that you can breathe – happening so quickly, that typically you don’t even remember it.

This correlates directly with allergies, which affects even more people than sleep apnea does. With over 24 million people in the United States that are affected by some sort of allergy, it makes sense that there might be a connection between the two conditions. When someone is allergic to a substance (mold, dust, and pet dander are a few of the more common irritants) and breathes them in through the nose and mouth, the nasal passages can become irritated and inflamed.

One study in particular found that quality of sleep is drastically reduced by signs related to allergies, and can lead to the same symptoms that one would find with sleep apnea; when there is congestion and irritation in the nasal passages, it narrows the airway – just like with snoring. This isn’t only a problem in the adult population though; research has shown us a link between allergies and sleep apnea in children as well.

If you know that you have sleep apnea, what can you do to treat it? If it’s a mild case, your local PCP might suggest that you try simple remedies first, like quitting smoking (if you’re a current smoker), or getting more exercise into your daily routine. If your snoring is linked to allergies, they might also prescribe you treatment to effectively handle your allergic reactions.

Other treatment options include using a CPAP machine, which essentially gives you oxygen through a mask while you sleep; other options include oral appliances to help keep your airway open. If you’d like to try the self-care route in caring for your sleep apnea, try and reduce or eliminate alcohol before bed, make sure to get in a good exercise routine, don’t smoke, and sleep on your side if at all possible.

 

Guest Blogger: Krista Harper

A Survival Guide to Ragweed Allergy Season

Are you one of the many who struggle from ragweed allergies? You’re not alone. Almost 23 million people in the United States suffer from. Most ragweed pollen blooms mid-August, but it may bloom as early as mid-July. Ragweed allergies are commonly associated with symptoms such as itchy, watery eyes, a runny nose, congestion, poor sleep quality, sneezing, and coughing. You can minimize these effects by starting to prepare for it now!

7 Tips for Ragweed Season:

1.Check the pollen counts for your area.

Try to avoid being outdoors on days with high pollen counts. Stay indoors with the windows closed.

2.Start taking prescribed or over-the-counter medications two weeks before ragweed season starts.

In order for your allergy medications to work effectively, you should start taking them about two weeks before ragweed season begins. Talk to your health care provider to see which medications are best for you.

3.Call your doctor now if you’re out of prescription medication refills.

Don’t wait until you start experiencing symptoms. Patients often think they shouldn’t see their provider until they start feeling miserable. This is NOT true. Call before you feel symptomatic so you can be evaluated and tested for allergies. Allergy tests range from skin testing to a simple blood test. Call now and set up an appointment!

4.Keep windows closed at home and in the car.

We all love to enjoy the nice weather and have the windows open but leaving the windows open allows the pollen to get into your home or car.

5.Bathe your pets frequently.

Our pets love playing outside but they end up tracking large amounts of pollen into the home. Bathe your pets frequently to prevent unwanted tracking of pollen.

6.Shower before bed.

We are no different than our pets. Throughout the day we collect pollen and track it into our homes. Shower off before bed so that you don’t bring pollen into the bed at night. This includes washing your face and hair so pollen doesn’t end up on your pillow.

7.Think about starting sublingual immunotherapy.

Sublingual immunotherapy can significantly reduce your experienced symptoms and provide long-term relief! Typically, you want to start immunotherapy prior to the height of the allergy season that affects you the most. However, the sooner the better in order to get the long-term effects of immunotherapy.

Don’t wait until it’s too late! Get ahead of ragweed season and get back to enjoying what you love doing!

Staying Active in Body and Mind: How Seniors Can Maintain a Healthy, Happy Lifestyle

It’s easy for seniors to fall into a sluggish mindset once the pace of life changes and the demands of work and a busy family life slack off. Once that’s behind you, it can be difficult to stay active enough to stave off many of the mental and physical ills that often plague older adults. Depression, which affects more than 6 million seniors according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, may set in as day-to-day connections gradually slip away and interactions become less frequent. Finding ways to remain active in body and mind is essential if you’re to maintain a healthy and happy lifestyle. Here are a few simple tips to bear in mind.

 

Keep Moving

You don’t have to be a track star or start pumping iron at the gym to stay active. Staying physically engaged can be as easy as walking a couple of laps around the running track at the park every day, enjoying a little tennis with friends, joining a water aerobics class, or learning yoga. Ultimately, it comes down to whatever you enjoy most (bear in mind that exercising with friends may make it easier to stay motivated).

 

Finding Your Musical Voice

Music has many mental health benefits. It’s especially good for keeping your cognitive faculties sharp and boosting memory. It can even help Alzheimer’s patients in a number of ways. A University of Miami study revealed that music therapy increased levels of serotonin, melatonin, epinephrine, and norepinephrine in Alzheimer’s patients, an important finding because these brain chemicals are involved with positive feelings, which help alleviate stress and elevate mood. Learning to play an instrument helps seniors mentally and physically. It reduces stress, improves hearing and memory, and even gives you a more socially active outlook. And you can even learn to play an instrument online in the privacy of your own home. So, if you’ve always wanted to learn the saxophone, check out some online lessons and spend some time researching the right saxophone for you — there are many kinds, from soprano to baritone or bass saxophones.

 

Fighting Allergies

Allergies can be a persistent problem, regardless of age. Many people spend years looking for the ideal solution. Believe it or not, the right diet can have a markedly positive effect on allergy sufferers. A diet rich in omega-3 fatty acids (found in nuts, seeds, and fish) has been linked to fewer allergies, and probiotics — like yogurt, which has anti-inflammatory qualities —  can also help keep the effects of allergies under control. More olive oil, less margarine, and cutting out alcohol are also good approaches for senior allergy sufferers.

 

Continue Your Education

So you’ve retired or are nearing retirement. There’s no rule that says you can’t continue your education, whatever that means to you. There are plenty of options for people who want to finish a degree or just take a few classes for fun. Why not look into some classes at your local community college or check out opportunities to take college-level classes online? There are also many educational institutions offering full degree programs online or classes just for fun. Learn to speak French or renew your interest in history; it’s a great way to keep your brain active.

Staying active is vital for seniors looking to improve their quality of life. Activity and engagement drive motivation and give you energy. Remember, there’s no right or wrong way to stay active — just the way that makes you happy and keeps you coming back for more.

 

Written by guest blogger Jason Lewis

 

Image courtesy of Pixabay

Five Spring Cleaning Tasks to Prevent Allergies

It’s that time of year again: allergy season. Even if you’ve let weekly cleaning slide, spring cleaning is a great opportunity to regroup and significantly reduce allergens in your home on behalf of your family. Household allergens can be a problem for those with allergies but can also trigger allergic symptoms in people without allergies. Dust mites are only one issue – many harmful toxins and bacteria are carried by the dust on your floor, carpet, upholstery and bedding. Dust mite excretion, pollen, and pet dander are three common forms of allergens also found within dust. There are several measures you can take to reduce the impact of these allergens on your family – nip allergens in the bud with these five spring cleaning tasks.

  1. Dust your blinds

Cleaning blinds is a chore that is oft forgotten or neglected but is important. When left neglected, they can get layered with dust, pet fur, skin cells, and dander. While it has been recommended to get rid of drapes and blinds altogether, as they trap both dust and allergens, where you can switch to roll shades, there are measures you can take to mitigate the dust issue with blinds. Clean blinds each month with a microfiber cloth or a microfiber blind cleaner. You can also  use a vacuum cleaner with an attachment. Remember that with all items in your house to dust weekly and vacuum regularly.

  1. Flip and air out your mattress

Flipping and airing out your mattress is so important as no matter how you clean your sheets and vacuum your mattress, your mattress will eventually accumulate thousands of dust mites and other microbes that cause allergy problems. Many mattresses, especially memory foam, trap heat which make it the perfect warm, damp breeding environment for bacteria. So what can you do? Picking out a mattress that is less conducive to dust mites is key. Vacuuming your mattress regularly is key as well. Since dust mites thrive in warm, damp places, flipping your mattress and airing out your mattress regularly helps significantly. If you have had your mattress for over 10 years, it’s likely soiled with all types of allergens. It might be best to get a new mattress all together.

  1. Get special bedding

Spring cleaning is a time when you can and should consider special investments and upgrades that promote an allergen free household. You might want to consider special bedding for your mattress. Consider dust-proof covers on your mattress and pillows to keep dust mites out. It may seem like a splurge, but mattress covers and bed sheets when uncleaned can be covered with human and pet hair, dander, pollen, and dust mites.

  1. Get an air purifier

Another great investment to make during spring cleaning is purchasing an air purifier. A HEPA air purifier is said to eliminate 99% of allergens in your home. Make sure you clean them every three to six months and clean the filter outside of your home rather than inside. It helps the purifier continue to do its job if you keep doors and windows closed tight during pollen season.

 

  1. Wipe off your pets

Spring cleaning is all about beginning new positive habits, one of which is wiping off your pets. In particular, wiping off a pet’s paws when they come inside the house from the backyard is a must. Allergens like pollen love to cling to paws and fur. Consider a packet a pet wipes to keep handy next to each door to the house, especially before they get on your bed. For that matter, it is suggested that you keep pets out of the bedroom. That can be really tough if you already have norms and a routine set where your dogs sleep with you, but keeping them off the bed protects you from dander. Also, if you have pet allergies, it is essential you do not let dogs sleep with you.

 

Remember that spring cleaning just like spring itself, is a time for new beginnings, especially when it comes to cleaning routines and practices. Get this spring started off right by putting into place new cleaning habits that lead to a healthier household.

Written By Guest Blogger: Lisa Smalls

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