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

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

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

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.

 

Some Patients are Receiving AUVI-Q for $0 Out-of-Pocket

I ran across a discussion in one of my allergy Facebook groups the other day in which members were discussing the AUVI-Q  epinephrine auto-injector.  (Most of us are more familiar with the brand Epi-Pen.)  The AUVI-Q is an alternate brand of epinephrine auto-injector used to treat life-threatening allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis, in people who are at risk for or have a history of serious allergic reactions.

This brand boasts features such as a retractable needle, voice instructions, and a two-second countdown.  The most exciting part of the conversation is that people were talking about getting the auto-injector for $0 out-of-pocket. So- I thought I’d pass along the information here.  Please conduct your own research and talk to your prescriber for more information about which auto-injector is best for you.

Recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) recommends at least 3 years allergy immunotherapy

Allergy Drops-safe and effective

A February, 2017 allergy immunotherapy research study published in JAMA recommends that patients continue their subcutaneous (allergy shots) or sublingual (allergy drops) allergy treatment for at least 3 years for long term effectiveness.

Sources: Shortened dose of immunotherapy ineffective in allergic rhinitis,  All-American Allergy Alternatives, LLC

Its Here! The 2017 Valentines Day Edition of the Safe Snack Guide!

Snacksafely.com announced the publication of this year’s Valentine’s Edition of the Safe Snack Guide, an extensive catalog of allergy-friendly foods used by thousands of schools and tens of thousands of parents nationwide to help keep allergens out of the classroom and the home.

This edition has an entire section devoted to allergy-friendly sweets for your sweetie! Many are available at your local supermarket or can be ordered online.

Find peanut, tree nut and Top 8 allergen-free, gluten-free, kosher, organic, and non-GMO foods from this fully interactive Guide!

Source: Its Here! The 2017 Valentines Edition of the Safe Snack Guide! – SnackSafely.com