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  1. Fall Allergies: The Impact of Ragweed on Our Children

    Ragweed is the most common pollen responsible for causing allergy symptoms from mid-August through mid-October. As adults with ragweed allergy, we get stuffy noses, itchy eyes, sneezing, sinus pressure, and so on. We know how it impacts us and we push through.

    However, how do we know the real impact that these allergies have on our children? For instance, what about ragweed and children?

    We can see when our children are sneezing, sniffling, and coughing, but we truly don’t understand the influence of these symptoms on our children’s lives. We know that one of the most common areas affected by allergies is sleep. I experienced this first hand as my son woke up sneezing non-stop at 4:45 in the morning the other day. You can imagine, neither I nor my son was in top form the next day. Allergies can lead to a lack of sleep which makes children more exhausted during the day.

     

    I always tell parents of children with allergies that don’t have allergies themselves to imagine yourself with a permanent cold that just won’t go away for the allergy season. That is what your child feels like.

    How productive are you when you have a cold? Can you think as clearly as you would like? Doesn’t being sick make you irritable or edgy? That is what your child feels like, but can’t vocalize to you directly. This can lead to the deterioration of relationships at home and poor school performance.

    Often I hear parents complaining that their child is hyperactive, but it just started in the past few months. Once again, if it is coinciding with the pollen season, their child’s ͞hyperactivity could be related to allergy symptoms-runny nose, congestion, etc. rather than a hyperactivity disorder such as ADHD. Though if a child does have ADHD, allergies can make the symptoms worse during the pollen season.

    These are some of the reasons why it is so important to treat our children’s allergies.

    Where do you start?

    Find an allergist that you can work with to help your child. Focus on your child’s environment, primarily their bedroom, with interventions such as keeping the windows closed during the pollen season, finding out what allergens are in the child’s bedroom, having the child take a shower after coming in for the day.

    We always say that children are our future. Let’s work together to help them have the brightest, allergy-free future that they can.AirAnswer.com provides in-home allergen testing to help you and your family get to the bottom of what may be making you sick!

     

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  2. Outdoor Wedding this Spring? Don’t Let Your Allergies Crash the Party!

    Here comes spring and outdoor wedding season! Time for flowers, nice weather and … annoying allergies!! If you are a bride and are excited to exchange vows with the love of your life this spring, you may want your perfect day to be outdoors surrounded by family, friends and sunshine. After all, the last thing you want on your special day is to worry about sneezing as you finally say “I do”.  You can still have your dream wedding outdoors; don’t worry your sneezy little head about it. You just need to have a plan!

    You can still have the outdoor wedding of your dream.

    • Before your big day, be sure to contact your allergist to discuss your options. Your physician may have some suggestions for outdoor allergy management or may even want to alter your medications for the big day.
    • According to the ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology), in the springtime during tree and grass pollen season, pollen levels are highest in the evening. If you suffer from pollen allergies and you have your heart set on a spring wedding, you may want to schedule your wedding and wedding photos sometime in the afternoon or late morning hours.
    • Be sure to pack over-the-counter anti-histamines and tissues on the day of your wedding or just give them to your maid-of-honor to hold. She’s there to keep your special day running smoothly.
    • Create a checklist with all of your wedding day essentials and include tissues, allergy meds, and other items needed for allergy prevention. Give the list to your maid-of-honor, or to your mom before the day of your wedding.  You will have a lot to think about on your wedding day. The last thing that you want to forget about are your allergies!

     

    Are you suffering from allergies and want a natural and healthy way to locate and reduce allergens in your home? Consider testing your home with AirAnswers.com. We are technologists, scientists, parents and allergy sufferers and we want to help you with your indoor allergy problems.

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  3. Want to be Healthy for Spring? Incorporate AirAnswers® into your Healthy Living Routine

    For most of us, healthy living is extremely important, especially if you have allergies and asthma. Each new season gives us a chance to start our quest to be the healthiest version of ourselves all over again. It’s pretty easy to get off track though. We’ve all been there! Thankfully, Spring gives us a new opportunity and the motivation to do some Spring cleaning in our homes and other areas of our lives. Spring is the perfect time to donate those old clothes, organize those cabinets and think about new ways to improve our health! After all, we all know the basics:

    • Eat a balanced diet    
    • Exercise regularly
    • Getting enough rest
    • Take a multi-vitamin
    • Visit your doctor annually
    • Give-up smoking (if you are a smoker)

    But what about the air in our homes? We spend a lot of time making sure we eat all the right foods and exercise regularly, but have you stopped to think about the allergens in your air and how they could be affecting your health?

    Keeping Your Home Healthy

    Allergies are among the most chronic conditions worldwide. If you suffer from allergies like a large portion of us, you know all about the sneezing, coughing, runny noses, sinus issues, difficulty breathing, etc. Allergies can severely affect all aspects of your life. Some allergy and asthma sufferers find relief with over the counter meds, others have to take one precaution after another to keep the symptoms at bay. Think about all of the things you do to manage or avoid symptoms, is getting your air tested for the allergens you’re allergic to on that list? How healthy can you really feel when you’re exposed to an abundance of allergens in your home’s air?

    That’s where we come in! AirAnswers® makes testing your home for airborne allergens super easy. The air sampling device comes to you in the mail. Just plug the device in for 5 days and send it back. Once your results are ready, we’ll get on a call with you to discuss what allergens we found, how to remove them and keep them out. Allergies are not the same for everyone. Your solutions shouldn’t be either. That’s why we go the extra step to find out what your specific concerns. We’ll help you focus your time and energy on the allergens that matter to you.

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  4. Reducing Pet Allergen in Your Home

    If you have a cat or dog, you should not be surprised to find elevated pet allergens in your home. But did you know that you can find pet allergens in the dust of essentially every single home?

    Cat and dog allergens are stickier than other allergens and are passively transported.  A child with a cat or dog will likely shed some pet allergens at school.  A classmate without pets may pick up that pet allergen at school, bring it home, and expose siblings. In this article, I will highlight strategies to reduce pet allergens, whether or not you have a pet in the home.

    Is Pet Allergen Airborne?

    Before we can come up with a strategy to reduce pet allergens in the home, we need to establish if they are predominantly found in the air or settled on surfaces.  Unfortunately, with cat and dog allergens, they can be found both in the air and settle on surfaces.

    Most cat allergens are found in relatively large particles greater than 10 microns in diameter.  These larger particles settle out of the air via gravity and collect in the house dust. There is a percent of allergen, however, that is smaller than 5 microns that tends to stay airborne for long periods of time.

    Some people start reacting to pet allergens by simply stepping foot in a home with cats or dogs. They are likely reacting to small airborne particles containing allergens.  Other people may not react until they stir up settled dust or have direct contact with the allergen.

    You need a double strategy to remove pet allergen: air filters to remove the airborne allergen and strategic cleaning to remove settled dust.

    Removing Airborne Allergen

    To remove the airborne pet allergen, the best strategy is air filtration.  You can filter the air with a portable air cleaner or with a centralized filter that is part of your heating and cooling system such as a furnace, air conditioner, or heat pump.

    If you don’t have a central air system, a portable air cleaner is the best strategy.  There are many technologies available, but the most trustworthy utilizes HEPA filtration. Although several companies make disparaging remarks about HEPA, they are mostly false claims. In fact, many HEPA alternatives produce harmful by-products such as ozone.  HEPA is at least 99.97% efficient at all sized particles (and for particles both larger and smaller than 0.3 µm, the removal efficiency is even higher).

    If you have a central air system, you can improve the efficiency of your home’s filter to help remove airborne allergens. However, there are many pitfalls to purchasing a high-efficiency filter at the hardware store and installing it in your central air system.  Filters create a restriction to airflow and can inadvertently damage the equipment. You want to get the highest efficiency filter that doesn’t affect performance. If you put in a new filter and there is a noticeable reduction in the airflow coming out of the registers, you should reduce the efficiency.

    I recommend purchasing filters that have been testing using the ASHRAE 52.2 standard, which provides a MERV rating between 1 (least efficient) and 16 (most efficient before getting into HEPA filter range).  A filter with a MERV 8 efficiency is a good starting point for most systems.

     

    Removing Settled Allergen

    Not all allergens are airborne and in fact, most will be settled onto surfaces.  To remove allergens from hard surfaces, the best option is electrostatic cloths (e.g. Swiffer®). These can be used to remove dust off of hard flooring, bookshelves, and countertops.

    What about allergens that have accumulated in carpeting?  Not all vacuum cleaners are created equal.  Some vacuums are specifically designed to remove pet allergen.  They contain a HEPA filter to reliably trap small allergenic particles, whereas normal vacuums may shoot particles back out into the room.

    The absolute best vacuum is a centralized vacuuming system with exhaust.  If the filtering mechanism misses anything, it gets exhausted to the outdoors.  These systems are very expensive and are best installed when a home is under construction.

    What if the offending pet is in the home?

    Of course, the best way to reduce pet allergen in a home is to remove the pets. That is a highly personal decision and one that is not easy to make.  I have a friend who cannot part with her cat despite being allergic to it. The cat is confined to certain rooms and her husband does most of the pet care and cleaning.

    With a pet in your home, you will always be fighting an uphill battle against allergens.  If no one in your home is allergic, there may be minimal concern.  In fact, growing up with pets may reduce the likelihood of allergic disease in children.  Just be careful with visitors that are already sensitized to pets.

    By filtering your air and strategically cleaning surfaces, you will be better equipped to reduce cat and dog allergens in your home.

     

    About the Author

    Ian Cull, PE, CIH is the owner of Indoor Science, a Chicago-based air quality consulting company.  He and his team investigate air quality issues in homes, offices, and schools including mold inspections and indoor air quality testing. Mr. Cull previously served as the Technical Director of the Indoor Air Quality Association.  With over 20 years of experience, Mr. Cull has been invited to speak around the world including Asia, Europe, South America, and Australia.

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  5. Summer Camp Checklist for Children with Asthma

    2 Weeks Before Camp

    Arm Your Child With Information

     

    The most important thing you can do is talk to your child about their symptoms and triggers.

    The most important thing you can do is talk to your child about their symptoms and triggers. Make sure they know their limits when playing, as well as where their medicine is kept and when to take it. It’s likely that you’ve extensively practiced every step necessary in resolving an asthma attack with your child at home, but summer camp is a completely unfamiliar environment.  Make sure you give them a refresher on everything before sending them off.

    Medications

    Visit your child’s allergist before they head off to camp. Camp is an allergen rich environment. Your child will come in contact with so many different allergens for an extended period of time, which means they may need a stronger baseline of medication to keep them relatively symptom-free. Checking in with your child’s allergist before they head off for the summer will make sure they have everything they need.

    Camp Staff

     

    It’s important that your child knows it is ok to talk to camp staff.

    Talk with the camp staff about how much physical activity is planned and how to handle an asthma emergency. Make sure your child is a part of this conversation and knows exactly who to go to if they aren’t feeling well. It’s important that your child knows it is ok to talk to camp staff as soon as they notice systems so they don’t wait for a full-on asthma attack before asking for help.

    Returning Home

    Kids returning from camp can be carrying the very allergens they’re allergic to right into your home. Before letting them drop their bags at the door and get cozy on the couch, wash everything! Have them jump in the shower, take their bag of belongings straight to the laundry room, and wash all of their clothes and shoes. Allergens make their way into our home on our clothes, hair and skin – taking these steps helps keep all of those pesky allergens out of your home.

    Interested in finding out what allergens may be lurking in your home, causing your allergy and asthma symptoms? Find out with AirAnswers® Allergen testing.

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  6. Planning Your Next Vacation with Allergies and Asthma

    Getting ready for a fun summer vacation requires a little extra preparation if you or someone in the family has allergies or asthma. But that extra preparation can make a huge difference between creating a trip full of memories you can’t forget and one you’ll want to forget! We’ve got you covered with these quick tips for a safe family vacation so you can create memories that will last a lifetime.

     

    Plan Ahead

    Make sure your prescriptions are filled for all the medications you need. The last thing you want is to run out of medication while you’re on the road, in the air or another country.  You may even want to consider visiting your allergist to make sure you’re fully prepared for whatever adventures lie ahead. If you’re going camping or hiking in the mountains and will come in contact with a lot of allergens that you’re allergic to, your doctor may want to discuss and alter your treatment plan so you won’t be struggling with the increased allergen exposure.

    Make sure your family has a plan just in case there is a medical emergency. They should know what to do and who to contact.  You may also want to consider wearing a medical identification bracelet in case you run into an issue while you’re alone.

    Contact your hotel to find out if they have allergy-friendly rooms to help reduce your allergen exposure on your trip. Even if your hotel doesn’t offer these rooms, you can bring some of your own tools to combat allergens. If you’re allergic to dust mites, you can consider packing your own dust-mite pillow covers. Run the air conditioner instead of opening windows or patio doors. Make sure you shower and change your clothes before resting on the beds and furniture in the hotel room so you don’t bring any of the allergens you’ve come in contact with while adventuring into the room.

     

    Pack Your Bags

    Make sure all medications you need are always nearby. Instead of putting medications in your luggage where they can get lost, keep them in a purse or bag you’ll always have access to. You can even bring an extra set of meds to keep in your luggage so you’ll have a backup plan if your purse or luggage gets lost while you’re traveling or exploring.

    Food Choices

    If you have food allergies and are planning a road trip, make sure to pack snacks and meals.  That will remove your need to read food labels at gas stations when everyone is hungry. You should also do some research about the restaurants in the area where you’ll be staying. You can look for restaurants that are allergy-friendly so you don’t have to play guessing games during meal times.

    Out & About

    Chances are you planned out your whole trip. You know what places you’ll visit, restaurants you’ll stop at and you know how you plan to get there. If walking to each destination is a part of your exploration, make sure you use a weather app like weather.com or pollen.com to check the air quality in the area. On days where air quality is low or the mold or pollen count is high, you can opt to drive or take a cab where you can keep the windows closed. That helps reduce your exposure to the allergens that bother you.

    It’s also important that you avoid places where smoking is allowed so you’re not triggered by irritants other than allergens.

    Whether you’re taking a small road trip with your family or a solo vacation somewhere on the other side of the world, planning is the key to having a magical experience without letting allergies and asthma symptoms get in the way. So pack your camera and meds, grab your map and get to exploring!

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  7. Exercise-Induced Asthma

    Exercise-Induced Asthma or Exercise-Induced Bronchoconstriction (EIB) is airflow obstruction that occurs during or shortly after physical activity. As many as 90% of all people who have asthma will experience symptoms of EIB during physical activity. So, how do you spot EIB?

    Symptoms of Exercise-Induced Asthma

    Symptoms of EIB are similar to chronic asthma and include shortness of breath or wheezing, decreased endurance, tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, cough, upset stomach, and sore throat. EIB may occur due to the sudden increase of cold and dry air coming into the airways. This can mean that symptoms tend to be worse in colder weather.

    Can I Still Be Active with EIB?

    While some activities and cold-weather sports can be more difficult, ultimately no sport must be off-limits just because you have asthma. In fact, 8% of Olympic athletes have asthma. Some activities and sports that are less likely to cause EIB symptoms including biking, hiking, swimming, and walking. Baseball and football are also less likely to cause symptoms because they require short bursts of energy.

    Tips for Managing You EIB

    1)  Create an asthma action plan for yourself or your kids to have on hand. Share with coaches so they know exactly what to do in an emergency.

    2) Make sure you inform coaches and teammates about your asthma so that everyone around you recognizes the warning signs.

    3) Keep your emergency medication with you at all times.  For tips on how to use your inhaler – bit.ly/inhalervideo

    4) Staying hydrated and doing pre-exercise warm-ups and cool-down exercises can help reduce EIB symptoms.

    5) Check the pollen, humidity, and air quality before going outside for exercise so you can be cautious and make smart decisions about how much you can push yourself. 

    6) Know your limits with exercise and sports. Pay attention to your body and listen to it when it tells you that you need a break.7) Manage allergens in your home. Taking precautions before we go outside for exercise is important but keeping an eye on the allergens in your home can play a huge part in how the allergens you encounter outside will impact you. Let AirAnswers® help you find out what allergens are in your home, making you sick.  Visit AirAnswers.com for more information and a personalized action plan.

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  8. Reducing Dust Mites in Your Home

    If you just got a report back that states you have elevated allergens, your first thought is probably “Now what?”  The answer depends on the type of allergen you have present.  Before coming up with strategies for cleaning up and removing allergens, it is important to understand why they are there in the first place.  Otherwise, those allergens might easily come back.  This is the first in a series to help you come up with a plan to control various allergens. In this article, I will focus on reducing dust mites and their allergens.

    Dust Mites

    Dust mites are very small arachnids that like to eat shed skin cells.  They are common in areas where you spend a lot of time, such as in your bed.  Because you can’t stop shedding skin cells, they can be a challenge to control.  You might pick up dust mites by sitting in a chair at a restaurant or conference room and bring it home.  In a large study, 84% of homes had detectable levels of dust mite allergen. Unlike bed bugs, dust mites do not bite. They eat your skin cells after they have sloughed off.  Their feces is the critical source of allergens that can trigger hypersensitivity diseases.

    Humidity

    Dust mites also need moisture in the form of airborne humidity.  By keeping the relative humidity below 50%, dust mites will not be able to survive. That can be a challenge under the bed covers as perspiration keeps humidity high. The best thing you can do in the morning is to NOT make your bed immediately.  That gives the bedding time to dry out.

    People that sleep on their stomach breathe humidity into a pillow or mattress.  By sleeping on your back, a pillow will experience less humidity and therefore be less likely to harbor dust mites.

    Encasements

    Mattress and pillow encasements act like a big filter to prevent dust mites from getting in. They also prevent dust mites that already found their way in from getting out.  And more importantly, they prevent the dust mite feces from coming out.  Dust mites are about 0.3 millimeters (mm) in length but their feces is closer to 0.02 mm. One study found that dust mite allergens were blocked below detectable limits by fabrics with a pore size less than 0.01 mm in size.  Encasements alone do not solve the problem but should be part of the overall strategy.

    Washing Bedding

    To control dust mites, it is important to wash bedding weekly with hot water at 130°F (or higher).  Many hot water heaters do not allow for temperatures exceeding 120°F to prevent scalding.  In that situation, you may need to rely on the high heat of the dryer.  You need to maintain the 130°F temperature for at least 10 minutes to effectively kill them off.

    Some recommend putting stuffed animals in the freezer for a day to kill off the mites.  If you try this, be sure to also wash the item because freezing alone doesn’t remove the allergens.

    Carpeting?

    There is debate regarding the benefit of removing carpeting if you have elevated dust mites in a home.  Carpeting with accumulated skin cells can be an ideal habitat for dust mites, especially in a humid climate. Generally, carpet removal should be considered a second line of defense after trying other strategies.  If you don’t want to remove your carpeting or upholstered furniture, it is important to keep them clean.  This can be done with a high-efficiency vacuum cleaner.  There are chemicals designed to kill dust mites, but some studies show that their clinical efficiency is limited.

    Conclusions

    If you have an elevated dust mite level in your home, don’t panic. By keeping your home clean and dry using the strategies above, you’ll be able to kill off the dust mites and remove their potent allergens.

    How can we reduce dust mites and their allergens in our homes? Ian Cull, PE, CIH, owner of Indoor Science, a Chicago-based air quality consulting company, has some useful advice for homeowners who need help formulating a plan to control indoor dust mite allergen levels.

    This is the first article written by Ian Cull for AirAnswers®. It is part of a 4-part series pertaining to controlling allergen levels in the home. Each article will focus on a different group of allergens – pets (cats and dogs), pests (mouse and cockroach), and pollen.

    About the Author

    Ian Cull, PE, CIH is the owner of Indoor Science, a Chicago-based air quality consulting company.  He and his team investigate air quality issues in homes, offices, and schools including mold and other allergens. Mr. Cull previously served as the Technical Director of the Indoor Air Quality Association.  With over 20 years of experience, Mr. Cull has been invited to speak around the world including Asia, Europe, South America, and Australia.If you’re interested in having your home tested for allergens, visit AirAnswers.com to learn more.

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  9. Fall’s Beautiful Leaves = Mold

    Fall is a season full of beautiful colors, comfy sweaters, hot chocolate and mold. Mold? Yup, mold! Those beautiful leaves that we all love so much, begin to collect mold and can actually be a big problem for allergy and asthma sufferers. It can be especially hard on those with mold allergies.

    Mold is just a fact of life. It is everywhere and there isn’t much we can do about all of the mold floating around and growing outside. Luckily, there are steps you can take to help reduce the mold growing in your and around your home.

    In The Yard

    • Keep the yard leaf-free – Ok, that’s not exactly realistic and it can be a huge task that requires you get out there a handful of times during the fall season, but raking up the leaves and getting them out of the yard as quickly as possible can be very helpful in keeping mold at bay.
    • Avoid standing water – If you have a problem area around your home or in your yard where water frequently pools, this is something you should quickly fix. Standing water is the perfect breeding ground for mold and mosquitos.
    • Clean the gutters – Clogged gutters can cause a number of problems for your home. They create water build-up, leaf pile up, and can create an environment where mold thrives and makes its way into the home.

    In The Home

    • Visible mold checks – Keep your eye on moisture around the windows, under sinks, in the refrigerator drip tray, and around bathtubs and showers. Do a visual check for any visible signs of mold, if you find a large amount of mold or something that seems concerning, contact a mold remediator to come to take a look and safely remove the problem.
    • Use a dehumidifier – Use a dehumidifier in the home to keep the moisture levels below 40%.  This will help dry out the moisture and any mold in the home. You can use a hygrometer to help measure your home’s moisture levels.
    • Keep windows closed – Even though the cooler temperatures make opening the windows so very tempting, allergy and asthma sufferers may want to think twice. The airborne mold can make its way into your home through open windows and doors and cause your symptoms to flare up. You can use any weather app such as weather.com to check the mold count in your area before deciding whether or not you want to crack those windows.
    • Consider mold testing – If you or someone in your home has mold allergies and you’re concerned that your increased symptoms are being brought on by something in your home, you may want to consider having your home tested for mold to rule it out as the cause of allergy and asthma symptoms. We can help with this! AirAnswers® testing your home for mold easy. Just plug in the device and let it run for 24 hours and send it back in the prepaid package. We’ll get you answers and help you get the peace of mind you’ve been looking for!

    From all of us here at AirAnswers®, Happy Fall!

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  10. Tips For Helping Your Child With Allergies Or Asthma Feel Their Best This School Year

    The start of the new school year is a pretty busy time for us here at AirAnswers®. We hear a lot of concerns from parents that their child wakes up feeling under the weather and isn’t getting their day started off on the right foot the way every parent hopes. Others start the day off feeling okay but are unusually drained by the end of the school day and they can’t figure out what’s wrong. Is it a growth spurt making them tired, a cold going around, maybe they’re not getting enough sleep or enough for lunch to sustain them all day or maybe their allergies or asthma is suddenly getting worse? Every concerned parent worries that it’s all of that. We all know that having allergies or asthma is rough and can really take a toll on us mentally and emotionally, but it can be particularly hard for little ones trying to make the best of their symptoms while they’re at school trying to learn. Parents, who are concerned that their child is suffering from allergy or asthma symptoms and maybe even falling behind, start searching for answers and solutions to the question – what can I do to help my child feel better if they’re already on medication?

    We all know that having allergies or asthma is rough and can really take a toll on us mentally and emotionally, but it can be particularly hard for little ones

    Manage Their Allergen Exposure

    Your child will be exposed to so many allergens while they’re at school or outside playing sports. Unfortunately, there isn’t much you can do about that. Thankfully, there are a number of things you can do in your home, the place your child spends the most time, to help manage their triggers so they aren’t as impacted by the new triggers they’re exposed to outside of your home.

     

    Manage their triggers so they aren’t as impacted by the new triggers they’re exposed to outside of your home.
    • Allergen Testing – So, you’ve visited the allergist, done skin testing and figured out your child’s medication needs. What now? Though this allergy/asthma journey can sometimes be a long and very frustrating one, knowing what your child is allergic to is half the battle, so you’re off to a great start! For some parents those first steps are all they need – it works perfectly and their child only experiences occasional symptoms that are easily shut down with their medication. However, for a large number of people with allergies and asthma, continued disappointment follows when medication isn’t providing the solution to the symptoms in the way they thought it would. We’ve all been there! You feel like you’ve done everything but your child still feels like crap and you aren’t sure what else there is to do. Well, that’s typically a good time to consider testing your home or child’s bedroom for allergens.
    • Testing your home or their bedroom helps you find out exactly what allergens are causing the problem. Maybe it’s dog allergen hanging out in the pillows from the last time your child played with their grandparents poodle a month ago. Maybe there are dust mites living and feeding off of your kids’ skin flakes that have settled into their mattress or maybe it’s just a little pollen that made its way in after the kids played outside yesterday. The point is that you don’t know what you don’t know until you do know.  Once you know exactly what the problem is, you can take the right steps to remove the specific allergens that your child is allergic to instead of exhausting your energy and wallet paying for all the possible solutions. There’s no need to rip up the carpet or move into a new home if the problem is just a little mold growing under the sink in the kitchen.
    • Thorough Cleaning – Clean everything! Ok, maybe that’s not realistic but focus on the things you don’t often clean. Curtains, rugs, decorative pillows, pet beddings and couch covers are things that typically spend the least amount of time in the washing machine, which is exactly why they can carry some really old allergens. Wipe down window shades, ceiling fans. Vacuum carpets and couches. Don’t forget to toss those beloved teddy bears in the wash too! And make sure you dry everything on high heat. Not many people line dry clothes outside anymore but if you do, you’ll definitely want to make the switch. Putting those clothes outside just brings all of the allergens you’re hoping to avoid into your house like you wouldn’t believe. Think of holiday projects involving glitter – it gets on everything and never comes off! Thankfully, allergens wash out but you get the idea.
    • Daily Showering – We know getting your kid or kids into the shower every night isn’t always realistic but hear us out. Allergens are incredibly sticky things that make their way onto our hair, clothes, and skin – sometimes just by walking by someone who had those allergens on them. We then come home and bring all of those allergens that are bothersome, right into our living room and bedrooms. Then we get cozy in a bed full of the very things that cause our allergy and asthma symptoms. Showering and washing your hair before bed helps greatly reduce the number of allergens that make their way into your sleep sanctuaries.
    • Air Purifiers – If your child’s allergy/asthma symptoms have been abnormally bad, you may want to consider using a HEPA air purifier in your child’s bedroom. It doesn’t hurt to have them in other areas of the home where your child spends the most time – like the living room or playrooms. Full disclosure, that can get a little pricey as they’re not the cheapest solution but if you’ve tried everything else and symptoms are really getting in the way, this might be a product worth considering.
    • Keep Windows Closed – I know when the weather finally breaks and the wind starts blowing cool air again, the first thing I want to do is open the windows and let that fresh air in. Unfortunately, for allergy and asthma sufferers like myself, this is the exact opposite of what we should be doing. Opening windows means letting every allergen that’s just floating around in your neighborhood right into your home. You’d be surprised by the allergens we’ve found that the homeowners weren’t expecting to find. Think there’s no way you could have cat allergen in your home because you don’t have one? Wrong! The cat who lives two doors down could have allergens in your home believe it or not! Even worse than cat allergen, you could be letting mouse, mold and roach allergen into your home just by trying to let some fresh air in.
    • Monitor Pollen Counts – It’s very important to keep an eye on the pollen count in your area. Nearly every weather app offers a feature that tells you if pollen is high in your area, but if you’re looking to find more specific information like what the count is for certain species of pollen, mold, or grass, you can visit the AAAAI.org pollen count page here. Just select your region and the city with the closest pollen count station.

    If the pollen count is high:

     

    Keep kids indoors as much as possible to avoid asthma attacks and increased allergy symptoms.
    • Keep kids indoors as much as possible to avoid asthma attacks and increased allergy symptoms.
    • If possible, change your clothes and shoes before coming into the home on high pollen count days as well. Try to take your shoes off before walking into the home every day. So very many things can be trampled into carpeting and hardwood surfaces and crevices from out shoes.
    • Make sure everyone, even those in the family who don’t have allergies, takes a shower before getting comfortable on the couch, getting into bed, or even rolling around on the carpet to keep from transferring those allergens.

    Just putting it out there – we do allergen testing here at AirAnswers®, and we do a pretty good job at it! So, if you’ve tried everything and aren’t seeing the relief you were hoping you’d get from medication and products for your home, it may be time to consider testing your home for allergens. We can help you really get to the bottom of what might be going on with your home’s air. We know you’re busy and your hands are probably super full with a million things so we do our best to make testing super easy – we’re here to help through the whole process.

    Testing is as easy as plugging it in and letting it run for 5 days on a table in the room of your choice (feel free to reach out if you’re not sure which room to choose). Then send it back in the prepaid box and we’ll do the hard work in the lab. Once your results are ready, we’ll jump on a call with you to talk about your specific concerns and your home environment so we can focus on the allergens that matter to you and your family so you can save all of your energy for chasing your kiddos around and scrubbing that Crayola masterpiece off the wall again!Check out our website AirAnswers.com for more info on how our service works.

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  11. In-Office Skin Test + AirAnswers® Home Allergen Test = A Winning Combination for Allergy/Asthma Relief

    Some people think that if they have allergies, all they need to do is get a skin test by their 

     

     

    Some people think that if they have allergies, all they need to do is get a skin test by their allergist and their allergies can be explained away…but it’s not that easy. A skin test can determine what you’re allergic to, but how do you know if what you’re allergic to is lurking around your bedroom at night and triggering your symptoms? The AirAnswers® home allergen test can tell you which and how much of those pesky allergens you are exposed to in your living environment. Are you allergic to dust mite allergen? Without realizing it, you may have dust mite allergen in your home. If you are constantly combatting a runny nose, watery eyes, coughing, wheezing or sneezing, it may not be a never-ending cold or cough, it could actually be a home filled with allergens!!

    In-Office Skin Testing

    The AirAnswers® Home Allergen Test is the science-based solution for detecting allergens in your living environment. At AirAnswers®, we provide allergy/asthma sufferers with a report on the allergens present in their environment, which complements their physician’s diagnosis. Working together, these two pieces of information can help people eliminate the offending allergens from their homes and help alleviate their symptoms.

    The in-office visit starts with a skin test which is almost always recommended. After patients get the results from the skin test, there will be options for treatment.  The first line of defense should always be to treat the environment. Too often, the patients go straight to taking medication, or they may also choose to undergo allergy shot treatments. But it is very important for patients to target the allergens in their every-day environment in order to determine the most successful treatment, especially if they would prefer to lessen their medication needs.

    Normally, the allergist will ask numerous questions to try to determine what patients are exposed to in their homes. This is often difficult to do as many patients have no idea of what the sources of allergens are in their home environment. AirAnswers® Home Allergen Testing records five days of exposure in the home and accurately reports a variety of common allergens. At AirAnswers®, our allergy consultants can then advise on how to avoid allergen triggers by recommending environmental products tailored to patients’ needs, or if avoidance is near impossible, their allergist can prescribe the correct medication.

    The AirAnswers® Home Allergen Test provides answers within 30 days, which saves a lifetime of suffering. Many clients report spending hundreds of dollars, even a thousand or more, ‘throwing darts in the air with medications and devices trying to mitigate the wrong allergy and asthma triggers. With AirAnswers®’ targeted approach, the money and stress that patients save in the long-run are priceless.

    A true solution to your allergies requires not only knowing what you’re allergic to, but also determining which allergens – and the concentration of allergens – in your home. The AirAnswers® Home Allergen Test is trusted by physicians as the only test on the market that can identify the allergens in your home environment. In combination with the in-office skin test, our testing provides patients with the most accurate environmental diagnosis to ensure that they get the best allergy and asthma relief.

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  12. Navigating Summer Gatherings with Food Allergies

    Ah, summer… 

    It’s the time of year to slow down, to kick back and relax. Time for picnics and pool parties, summer camps and vacations…and a whole lot of wonderful food.

    But not so fast.

    When you live with a food allergy, it isn’t quite so easy to relax. Summer offers the opportunity to break away from routine and structure. But that freedom can cause headaches for families who depend on routine to manage a food allergy.

    Living with a food allergy doesn’t have to mean staying home all summer, though. It is very possible to take part in all the fun of summer – including the food. All it takes is a little up-front work to ensure that your family can head out and enjoy the season safely.

    Here are some of our family’s best tips for eating away from home during the summer:

    Do some early reconnaissance.

    Call your host or venue before the event to ask about the menu and food preparation. Knowing what’s available ahead of time can help you plan for your time away from home. Ask whatever questions you need to know so that you can enjoy your time – and your meal – without excess stress.

    Do your own research.

    Many large restaurant chains provide menus and nutrition/ingredient information online. For independent restaurants, call ahead and talk to a manager or the owner to find out what you need to know. Business owners want you to enjoy your time with them and are often very eager to help.

    Be open about your food allergy.

    Some people prefer to keep information about allergies private. But it is far safer to communicate with people around you so they can help. People are often willing to accommodate food allergies when they know your needs. Being open about allergies helps raise awareness, too. That can help someone else in the future.

    Bring your own.

    When you can’t be certain about the safety of the food where you’re going, pack some hearty go-to options to hold you over. There’s nothing worse than being stuck at an event with nothing to eat. Having your own stash will help ease your mind. If you feel uneasy about toting a lunch box, let your host know ahead of time. It helps avoid unnecessary hurt feelings and they may even help you find a way to store what you bring.

    Know your safe brands.

    Learn about the ingredients and safety of certain food brands. The more you know about popular brands, the easier it is to eat away from home. In restaurants, you can ask about brand names and know what to expect. In a pinch, you can make a quick stop in a market or convenience store and grab what you need quickly.

    Inform your kids.

    As much as we want to, we can’t be with our kids around the clock. They are going to find themselves in situations where they will have to make choices on their own. Teach your kids about their allergy and how to read food labels. Teach them how to speak up and advocate for themselves so they don’t have to feel afraid to ask for help. The more kids know, the more confident they can be when they fly solo. And that helps you as a parent feel comfortable, too.

    Asthma and food allergies.

    One more important reminder: If you or your child have asthma, it pays to be extra vigilant when communicating about and monitoring your food allergy. Asthma puts people with food allergies at greater risk for an attack. Any asthma symptom that is overlooked can potentially lead to a more severe allergic reaction as well. So it’s especially important to consider and closely monitor any asthma symptoms – even the mildest ones – in order to prevent a potentially dangerous scenario. Make sure to review your food allergy action plan and check the box to indicate if you or the child is asthmatic.

    Summer is a wonderful time to explore the world, try new things, and meet new people. Living with a food allergy doesn’t have to put a damper on those experiences. With information and a plan, you can make sure your family has a safe, fun, and delicious summer.

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  13. The 5 People Parents of Children with Allergies and Asthma Should Talk to for a Successful Year

    The 5 People Parents of Children with Allergies and Asthma Should Talk to for a Successful Year

    The new school year is finally here! With the new school year comes an entirely new set of concerns for parents. You’ve already gotten their backpacks, school supplies, clothes and shoes they’ll grow out of or destroy before the year is even halfway through! If your child has asthma or allergies, there are a few very important steps that have to be taken to ensure their kids have a fun and safe start to the new school year.

    Talk to Your Allergist

    – Your child’s allergy or asthma symptoms and medication needs may have changed over the summer so it’s always a good idea to check in with your child’s allergist before sending your child off to school. They can make sure your child is armed with the knowledge and the medication they need to feel their best and be prepared for any medical emergencies.

    Talk Honestly With Your Child

    – There are so many things we want to protect our children from. Sometimes we worry that we’re bombarding them with information about what they can and cannot do because of their allergies or asthma. Though we may feel like we’re overwhelming them, it’s so important that they be aware of their triggers, how to avoid them, and what the plan is should they start to feel something unusual.

    Talk to Teachers/School Nurse

    – This is especially important if you have young children. Even if you’ve had a million conversations with them about their allergies/asthma, sometimes you just need an adult to keep an eye on them. Sharing your action plan with the teacher is important so they also know what to do.

    Talk to Your Child’s Closest Friends

    – If you have an older child, it may be helpful to have a quick chat with your teenagers’ closest friends so they can spot potential trouble and react appropriately. Most adults are unsure of how to handle an asthma attack in another person, panic can quickly set in at a time when quick action is critical. Let them know exactly what to do – should they call 911, alert a teacher, look for an inhaler or epi-pen first?

    Having the people closest to your child prepared will also help you feel a little more at peace with having your young adult out in the world without you.

    Talk to Your Child’s Coaches

    – If you have a child who plays any sport, it’s also important that you share this information with coaches. They need to have a clear understanding of how important breaks are and how to spot an emergency. Also, have a conversation with your child about not being afraid to take breaks when they need to.

    Control Allergen Exposure

    – You may not be able to control the allergens your children are exposed to at school but you can control the air they are breathing at home. Testing your home for allergens helps you identify and target the allergens that your child is allergic to.  Controlling the allergens in the place they spend the most time, will help them feel their best each morning and get their day started on the right foot.  Click here to learn more about allergen testing.

    Good luck, parents!

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