Archive for December, 2011

Winter Allergens – Fighting Dust

Winter months find an increase in allergic reactions to dust and dander.  Unfortunately, dust is everywhere. And house dust triggers allergy symptoms irritants to your eyes, nose, and/or lungs.  Dust can also be a carrier or host for  other  allergens which can be contained in house dust.

Incredible as it sounds, the average six-room home in the United States collects 40 pounds of dust annually. This isn’t a commentary on cleanliness –  dust is not dirt. House dust is the breakdown product of fibers found in your home and environments; pillows, drapes, clothes, linens, and other furnishings in your house, work, school, or even in your car.

Allergy-proofing also implies dealing with dust mites.  These microscopic menaces produce the largest component of house dust that triggers allergies. Eighty percent of patients with allergies test positive for sensitivity to the dust mite allergen. The dust mite allergen is also the most significant allergic trigger of asthma attacks.  Dust mites are tiny spider relatives which live in house dust and feed on human skin scales.  The mites’ waste, fecal matter is the most prevalent form of house dust allergens.

Eradication of dust mites is a daunting task – females lay 20 to 50 eggs every three weeks, but you can take measures to minimize exposure to dust mite allergens. Taking the following measures properly implemented can result in a significant decrease in allergic symptoms and medication requirements for patients with allergies or asthma. Since we spend up to one-third of our lives in our bedrooms, your bedroom is the place to start a dust control campaign to reduce your allergic reactions.

  • Beds: Use special allergen-impermeable casings on all pillows, mattresses, and box springs. Mount all beds on bed frames. Wash all bed linens in hot water (at least 130degrees) every week. Use pillows, blankets, quilts, and bedspreads made only of synthetic materials. Avoid feather or down- filled comforters and pillows.
  • Climate control: Keep an eye on humidity. Don’t locate your bedroom in a humid area such as the basement.  Use an air conditioner or dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50 percent.
  • Housekeeping: Vacuum regularly with a HEPA or ULPA vacuum cleaner. Wear a mask if you have allergies.
  • Ventilation: Cover any heating vents with special vent filters to clean the air before it enters your rooms. Use HEPA air cleaners to keep the indoor air circulating through your home pure and clean.
  • Carpets and drapes: Avoid using carpeting and thick rugs. If you can’t remove your carpeting and rugs, treat them with products that inactivate dust mite allergens. Bare surfaces such as hard wood, linoleum, or tile are inhospitable to dust mites and are easier to clean. Also use curtains and window shades that can be washed regularly as opposed to heavy draperies.
  • Decorations and furnishings: Can it be easily cleaned? Avoid overstuffed upholstered furniture. Remove clutter. Keep closets and drawers closed tightly. If your child has allergies or asthma limit toys to those that can be cleaned and stuffed animals that can be machine washed. Keep your child’s toys in a closed area like a chest, container, or drawer when not in use.

If you have any questions or require assistance in controlling allergic reactions to dust, call my office for a consultation, 866-632-5537.  Help is available.

For more on Dust Mites read

 

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Acetaminophen-Asthma Link

The NY Times published an article on December 19th that discusses the link between acetaminophen and asthma correlating at the time doctors linked the use of aspirin and Reyes syndrome.

At the forefront of the argument is a study published in The Annals of Allergy and Asthma Immunology in 1998 in which Dr. Arthur Varner, then affiliated with the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine, argued that the switch to acetaminophen might have fueled the increase in asthma.

More than 20 other studies have followed including Dr. John T. McBride, a pediatrician at Akron Children’s Hospital in Ohio, who published in the journal Pediatrics where he argued the evidence for a link between acetaminophen and asthma is so strong that doctors should recommend that infants and children who have asthma or at risk to develop asthma should avoid acetaminophen.

To read the entire NY Times article click here.

 

 

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Testing Allergenic Substances Without Experimental Animals

Contact allergy affects around 20% of the population in the western world. Metals such as nickel, perfume and preservatives are the most common allergens and are often components of jewelery, skin lotions and make up. In those affected by contact allergies these substances must be avoided. Exposure can lead to eczema. The problem remains that these substances are present in many different products. This is why testing is so important in order to prevent the development of contact allergy.

“We have made several discoveries about the mechanism behind contact allergy, one of which is that allergenic substances react with keratin 5 and 14 in the skin. The skin cells form what are known as “blebs” when exposed to allergenic substances, and this can be used to test whether a substance is allergenic. Cultured skin cells are exposed to substances for 24 hours in our test, and then photographed. The number of cells with blebs is then counted. The greater the number of blebbing cells, the more powerful is the allergenic potential of the substance. Thus, our new test has the potential to give a graded reply: it can quite simply determine whether an allergenic substance is extremely, strongly, moderately or weakly allergenic”, says Sofia Andersson from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Gothenburg.

The”bleb” count result can help determine safe concentrations of substances in products. This experiment has provided promising results.  The research team is now working with University of Gothenburg to further develop the test and the analysis method.

If you suffer from contact allergies, which may manifest themselves as rashes, hives and swelling and live in the NYC area, contact my office I would be happy to assist you in getting to the root cause of your symptoms. 866-632-5537.

Learn more about Contact Allergies here.

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Christmas Trees & Mold

Christmas trees may be behind the increase of respiratory illnesses occurring in the weeks surrounding the Holiday Season.

Researchers  from Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, N.Y. examined samples from their own trees and  found the samples contain a variety of molds previously identified as potential allergens.  These substances have been  shown to increase the risk of wheezing, persistent coughing and allergic sensitization in infants.

Dr. Lawrence Kurlandsky, suggests that the allergens may not affect all families. “If you and your children don’t have any obvious allergies, then it is probably not going to bother you.”

Click here for more on Christmas Trees Cause Allergic Reaction

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