Archive for Mold

Shut Inside this Winter?

We shut out winter’s cold by sealing windows, cutting drafts and weatherproofing our living areas.  And as we insulated ourselves from the outdoors, we are also sealing in several allergens that can trigger allergy symptoms despite January’s bitter temperatures.

Pet dander.

Your pets are your babies. They are spending less time outdoors and more time in the same dry air environment drying out their skin and yours. Pet allergy symptoms may increase during winter months. Give yourself a safe haven – don’t let Fifi sleep on your bed or groom herself on the couch. Vacuum more often and have someone less susceptible brush your pets between groomings.

Mold.

As the heat inside goes up – moisture trapped in walls, basements and bathrooms can trigger mold growth. While most molds are benign, those susceptible to mold spores can find allergy symptoms disarming; troubled breathing, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy eyes, throat and/or inside of ears, hives, swollen eyelids, coughing, and wheezing.  A simple blood test can confirm if your symptoms are attributed to a mold allergy. If mold is to blame, it is important to remove the source of the mold to successfully eliminate it; repair leaks, ventilate the bathroom, discard old periodicals and newspapers and use a dehumidifier in damp basements.

Stress.

Although there is no “Allergy to People” diagnosis, as we are forced indoors we may find ourselves a little shorter with our coworkers, mates and children. Stress lowers immune responses and can lead to increases in cold and flu and even hives. Winter Blues (more casual connotation) or Seasonal Affects Disorder can be attributed to lack of quality time outdoors and decreased exposure to sunlight. For example, many of us are leaving for work at dawn and home after dark, missing out on sunlight and fresh air.  Maximize your exposure to sunlight, if possible sit near a window at work or lunch. Plan activities and outings to break up your winter routine. Vacation in the summer? Why not take a few days off in the winter to relax and unwind? For more serious depression, see a specialist.

If you have any questions regarding winter allergy symptoms, feel free to give my office a call. I’d be happy to set up a consultation to help improve your quality of life; enjoy winter while waiting on spring.

Having sinus problems? Visit this post for several tips to ease sinus pain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Air Purifier? – There’s An App For That

Now that spring is in full swing, tree pollens are predominating in the New York area. Although we can’t do too much to avoid pollen outdoors, I tell my patients we have more control over our environment outdoors.

Air purifiers are a way to eliminate many indoor allergens such as pollens, dust and mold, that get trapped in our home. Although there are many different types that target on a variety of allergens as well as unwanted odors, I recently came across an interesting article about a high-tech air purifier.

I read recently, in the Wall Street Journal that the Honeywell Company has introduced the first Bluetooth-enabled air purifier, one that’s controlled by a smartphone app.

While quite pricey–at $250.00–it does what other air purifiers do–filters dust, mold and other allergens. But the difference is that a smartphone app is the remote control that makes it work (with a 30-foot range) and can schedule on and off times.

What’s more interesting is a feature offered by the smartphone–an allergy tracker. The Journal reports “that it takes advantage of the phone’s internet connection to gather pollen counts and other allergen information by zip code. Armed with this knowledge, the app can tell the purifier to dial up the power or to lie low.” a potential savings on electric bills.

The article continues and states “the purifier has a proximity sensor that works in conjunction with the app to turn off the device when you are not around. Also, there is an indicator to show how dirty your filters are getting, filter-change alerts and of course, direct links to purchase replacement filters.”

The Honeywell air purifier covers rooms up to 310 square and can be purchased at Best Buy. Its app is compatible with iOS and Android devices.

To learn more, visit http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/allergy

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Is It A Winter Cold Or Allergy? The Difference

This season, some of my patients have complained to me that they have symptoms of a runny nose and sometimes, a scratchy throat and think it’s a cold. But in reality, I tell them it’s probably a winter allergy.

Colds, I tell my patients, usually display symptoms of a low-grade fever, sore throat and a cough. But as Dr. William Schaffner, a chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. says in a report for ABC News, “you might a have a little bit of a sore throat with allergies, but’s mostly runny nose and red, itchy eyes.” Other symptoms include sneezing and dark circles under the eyes.

Also, colds can be accompanied by body aches and fatigue; symptoms not generally associated with allergic reactions.

So the question my patients ask if spring and summer brings pollen allergies, what causes the onset of winter ones.

Good question.

The winter season brings on a number of allergies associated with holiday celebrations. For instance, as Discovery Health. com states, “a stored Christmas tree and holiday ornaments or even a menorah may contain dust or even mold. A live tree’s scent may cause sinus congestion in some people. Furthermore, additional winter blankets, carpeting and clothes that been stored since the previous winter can release dust mites and old spores into the air and around the house when they are removed from storage.”

I recommend the following to limit allergen exposure: Keep pets outside as much as possible and limit them to a specific area in the house; wash all linens and clothes have been stored before using them again; keep humidity levels at 40% as recommended by National Jewish Health.com; use a HEPA air filter to clean dust from the air; and if necessary, buy a synthetic Christmas tree.

To learn more, http://www.nycallergydoctor.com/allergy.

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Mold Growth

Most of us are aware of mold issues created by decaying leaves and the importance of keeping leaves raked clear of your home. Indoor mold is an increasing problem in NYC, causing a spike in mold allergy cases.

Mold spores are found on almost every building surface. When these mold spores come in contact with an appropriate amount of moisture, food, and temperature, germination will occur, mold will grow, and may become air borne.

Causes of indoor mold growth; flooding, leaky roofs, and drainage or plumbing problems, and temperature differences – condensation caused by warm air and cool surfaces. This condensation principle often causes mold growth in exterior walls, when indoor heating meets moisture left by poor drainage or leaks . Mold often grows in cold, uninsulated exterior windows and walls, including uninsulated closets along exterior walls where building surfaces are generally cold relative to the indoor air temperature.

Molds feed on dead organic matter. Outdoors, molds are very important in decomposing organic materials and recycling nutrients. However, indoor building components and contents contain excellent food sources for mold, such as wallpaper glue, some paints, greases, paper, textiles, and wood products. Indoor dusts may contain fibers, dead skin cells, and other organic matter that can serve as a food source for mold when adequate moisture is available.

We are seeing an increase in mold allergy cases as moisture collected within buildings, dampness left behind by Sandy and the damp conditions of late, are  being affected by indoor heating. Indoor heating systems pull air from crawl spaces, making mold allergies worse in the winter.

Symptoms of mold allergy:

  • Wheezing
  • Stuffy or runny nose
  • Itchy, watery eyes
  • Sore throat
  • Rash or hives

To overcome mold allergies, you must treat yourself and your home.  If you are suffering from mold allergy symptoms,  I invite you to contact my office for a consultation, 866-632-5537

Reduce Mold in the Home

(from webmd)

  • Get your house tested for mold. A moisture meter test will help. Also, a dust sample from your carpet can show whether mold spores are in your home. Check with your state health department about mold testing.
  • Fix leaky plumbing or other sources of water. If you have mold in your crawl space or basement, locate the source and stop the water from coming in.
  • If your crawl space has mold, call an environmental service to get rid of it. If a small area is moldy, you can try cleaning it yourself.
  • Check inside drywall for mold inside the wall. You can usually smell mold even if you can’t see it. Moldy drywall must be cut out and replaced. Moldy insulation also must be removed and replaced.
  • Wash mold off hard surfaces. You don’t have to use chlorine bleach; soap and water, combined with scrubbing from a stiff brush, works to remove mold. Some people also recommend vinegar or hydrogen peroxide. Non-toxic cleaners are also available. Allow areas to dry completely.
  • Dry water-damaged areas and items (like carpeting) within 24 to 48 hours of flooding. Don’t install carpeting in areas where there is a moisture problem.
  • If ceiling tiles or carpet have become moldy, they must be replaced. Throw out all wet, moldy tiles and carpeting.
  • Reduce indoor humidity by venting bathrooms, dryers, and other moisture-generating sources. Exhaust fans in bathrooms and kitchens can help. If you don’t have exhaust fans, crack a window in the kitchen when you’re cooking or in the bathroom when you’re bathing.
  • Use air conditioners and dehumidifiers inside your home. Change filters regularly. Use a dehumidifier to get rid of dampness in basements.
  • Add insulation to windows, piping, exterior walls, roof, or floors where there is potential for condensation on cold surfaces.
  • If you’re working in a moldy area, always wear a filtered face mask so you won’t inhale mold spores.

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Spring Cleaning’s Affect on Allergies and Lung Function

Many people have begun the ritual of spring cleaning. As rugs are being shaken and curtains refreshed, allergy suffers and those with chronic lung disease should heed not only winter’s mantel of dust and mold but also the cleaning products used to welcome springtime into their households.

This article from MonsteresandCritics relays the danger allergens and household cleaners pose to those with allergic conditions and chronic lung conditions, like asthma and bronchitis. Allergens and cleaners will irritate overly sensitive bronchial tubes and airways may cause sneezing attacks, coughing and difficulty breathing.

The article suggests dampening dust rags which will reduce the amount of dust that becomes airborne and to combat the production of mold by monitoring humidity present to proactively prohibit the growth of mold.  Also, clean with windows open, to keep fresh air circulating about, as well as reducing the strength of cleaners.  Use a mask to reduce the inhalation of these irritants and allergens.

If you suffer from the illnesses of spring cleaning, or experience sneezing fits, coughing and trouble breathing – please seek help.  The basis of your symptoms cannot be found without proper examination and tests. There is help available. Visit nycallergydoctor.com or contact me (866) 632-5537 for a consultation.  Together we’ll devise a plan that will enable you to breathe easier and enjoy the change in weather – even find pleasure in those tasks well done.

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