Allergies During the Holiday Season

Allergies During the Holiday Season

Mould & Mildew

Mould spores float in the air like pollen and your exposure to it may increase during the holidays because they love damp evergreens like the wreaths, boughs and trees we bring inside this time of year.

How to control Mould Allergies:

A 2011 study performed by staff at the SUNY Upstate Medical University and published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology found that a Christmas tree could increase the number of mould spores in an apartment by about 6 and a half times1!

Christmas trees and wreaths carry mould spores. If mould affects you, you may consider making the switch to artificial decorations. If you simply can’t do without your Christmas tree then there are other ways to keep mould to a minimum. Hose plants down before bringing them inside to get rid of existing spores.

Artificial decorations can indeed reduce allergy but they too can become damp or grow mould. Ensure your artificial decorations are stored in dry containers and have been packaged correctly. 

Air purifiers, dehumidifiers and sprays that target mould can make a difference in tackling the spores that cause your allergic reaction.

Dust mites

These tiny allergens can be even more aggravating around the holidays when the air gets damp and we spend time in hotel rooms or staying with friends and relatives.

How to control Dustmite Allergies:

Dust mites are a well-known allergy and asthma trigger. Keep symptoms in check at home by changing air filters frequently, washing your bedding in hot water at 60 degrees weekly and by buying allergy-resistant encasement covers for pillows and mattress. Dust mites thrive in humidity, so a good way to keep indoor humidity between 30% and 50% is to invest in a dehumidifier.

During the holiday season you often find yourself staying with friends, relatives and in hotels. When travelling it’s a good idea to bring your own pillow with an anti-allergy protective cover. When staying in a hotel you can request a down-free pillow or even bring your own pillow encasements to keep allergic reactions to a minimum.

Food

The Holiday Season means lots of dining away from home, plenty of seasonal foods and lots of parties! All of which make it likely you’ll accidentally eat foods you’re allergic to.

Ways to control Food Allergies:

The first and best treatment for food allergies is to avoid what you’re allergic to. At seasonal gatherings with friends and family communication is key. Tell them about your food allergies, ask about ingredients in meals and desserts, discuss alternatives with them and ask for their help so you can avoid the foods you’re allergic to, the last thing your family or friends want is to make you unwell around the holiday season.

Pets

Symptoms of pet allergies can worsen around the holidays. Pets are indoors more, both at your house and in the homes of friends and family2.

Ways to control Pet Allergies:

To reduce the likelihood of a reaction for yourself or your visitors this holiday season there are a few things you can do. Firstly minimize your contact with pets and keep them strictly out of the bedrooms to reduce the amount of allergen in the room. Make sure to bathe your pets weekly, if possible, to wash away dander and other allergens from their fur. Change your clothes, bathe and wash your hair after playing with your pet and before going to bed[3]. Wash your hands and face frequently and keep your floors swept, and carpets vacuumed.

Air purifiers and sprays that target allergies to pets can make a difference in tackling the protein in the dander that causes your allergic reaction.

Why Do Indoor Allergies Worsen During Autumn & Winter?

Why Do Indoor Allergies Worsen During Autumn & Winter?

Sufferers of indoor allergies can find that these symptoms often worsen during the Autumn and Winter months. With the change in the weather, if you are allergic to pollen you may experience a relief of your symptoms during this time. However for many people these cold months mean that they find that their indoor allergies get worse as they spend more time indoors, keep their windows closed and stick on the heating which can circulate dust that has gathered over summer. 1

What are common indoor allergies?

Dust mites
These tiny bugs flourish in mattresses and bedding. When their droppings and remains become airborne, they can cause allergy symptoms.

Mould
Thrives in damp, humid areas such as basements and bathrooms. When mould spores get into the air, they can trigger allergy symptoms.

Animals
Most people are not allergic to animal fur, but rather to a protein found in the pet dander, saliva, and urine.

Allergy symptoms caused by dust, pollen, or mould include:

  • Coughing
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Itchy eyes and nose
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery eyes

How can you be sure that you are suffering from an allergy and not from a cold or flu?

A cold usually does not last longer than 10 days, where allergies can linger for weeks or even months. Also colds and flus sometimes have other symptoms such as a fever or aches and pains which often you won’t experience with an allergy. When in doubt consult your doctor who can carry out tests to detect which allergy you may have.

Steps you can take to minimise indoor allergic reactions

Dust mites

  • Wash bedding at 60 degrees once a week to reduce the dust mite load in the bedding.
  • Encase pillows and mattresses in impermeable covers to reduce exposure to dust mites.
  • Avoid down pillows and duvets, which form a nice habitat for dust mites and can be an allergenic.
  • Clean regularly, and use a damp mop for cleaning hardwood floors to avoid stirring up dust.
  • Dehumidifiers can help to reduce dust mite exposure and ease dust mite allergy symptoms. Dust mites thrive in warm humid environments and their populations explode. Ensure you keep your humidity levels to below 50 per cent with a dehumidifier to ensure dust mites do not thrive.

Helpful products that can help with your dust mite allergy:

Beurer LE40 Compact Dehumidifer

61f3MUrtyQL._SL1500_

Bio-Life Home Cleanse

Bio-Life Home Cleanse
Bio-Life Home Cleanse is especially recommended for the bedding of those who suffer from dust mite allergies. It can be used to treat mattresses, sofas and soft furnishings to denature and neutralise dust mite allergens and pet residue.

Mould

  • Immediately wipe down wet surfaces, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen, to keep mould from growing.
  • Good insulation can help cut down on mould by reducing condensation on cold surfaces.
  • Throw out shower curtains, wallpaper, and carpeting that have mould.
  • Wash showers and sinks with a solution containing 5% bleach and a little detergent.
  • To help control mould, use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50%.

An ideal solution in rooms where damp and mould is a problem, or in the winter months when condensation can build up on windows.

Polti Vaporetto Airplus Steam Cleaner PTGB0057

Polti Vaporetto Airplus Steam Cleaner PTGB0057

Clean with the power of steam. Ideal for eliminating bacteria, mould spores, dust mites and allergens.

Animals

If you find that you are allergic to pet dander there are a few steps to prevent an allergic reaction.

  • Minimize contact with pets, and keep them strictly out of the bedrooms to reduce the amount of allergen in the room.
  • Bathe your pets weekly, if possible, to wash away dander and other allergens from their fur.
  • Change your clothes, bathe and wash your hair after playing with your pet and before going to bed[2].
  • Wash your hands and face frequently. Keep floors swept, and carpets vacuumed.

Here are some helpful products that can ease your symptoms:

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Cat Cleanse

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Cat Cleanse

Petal Cleanse Cat is a surfactant based solution that removes the allergens and dander from the coats of small animals that cause allergic reactions in humans. It has been independently tested in the UK and throughout Europe, and has been found to be safe, effective and easy to use.

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Dog Cleanse

Bio-Life Petal Cleanse Dog Cleanse

Petal Cleanse Dog is a surfactant based solution that removes the allergens and dander from the coats of small animals that cause allergic reactions in humans. It has been independently tested in the UK and throughout Europe, and has been found to be safe, effective and easy to use.

All Bio-Life products have been awarded Allergy UK’s Allergy Friendly Product Award.

Allergies during exam season

Allergies during exam season

Research suggests that students who have allergies or hay fever on exam day are 40% more likely to drop a grade. However this percentage is increased to 70% if they take antihistamine treatments which can cause drowsiness.

Hay fever is caused by pollen from trees, grass and weeds. For most, hay fever is harmless but for some it can cause an allergic reaction which includes sneezing, itchy eyes and headaches.

To deal with the problem students have traditionally had a choice of taking medication and risking the drowsy effects that can follow or feel the full on force of hay fever symptoms.

However there are a number of precautions that can be taken in the run up to and throughout exam period, many of which are natural, without negative side effects which can tip the scales in students favour.

Protection

It’s important to protect the rooms where studying and sitting exams are taking place. Creating a good environment for study ensures students have the best chance when it comes to putting pen to paper. Air purifiers to rid rooms of pollen and other allergens, and steam cleaners also are good for providing a deeper level of cleaning. Both will make a huge impact on the amount of pollen present in your home. Don’t forget to protect your clothes too. Our Bio-Life Fabric Cleanse denatures 90% of pollen found on your clothes.

In the lead up to exam day

Try out products that can help before exam time so that way you know if they are suited to you.

On the Big Exam Day

If possible ensure any medication taken is non-drowsy. Remember to bring water and tissues into the exam room with you; keeping hydrated helps reduce side effects. Before the exam try and reduce the amount of time you spend outdoors and while indoors keep windows closed to reduce pollen intake. If you wear them don’t forget your glasses they offer an extra shield from pollen.

Hay fever? What hay fever? Good luck everyone!

Travelling with Allergies

Travelling with Allergies

When someone at home has an allergy we do everything we can to make life as easy as possible. But what about when we are travelling with allergies?

Be it a work trip, weekend getaway with friends, a family holiday, our allergies can join us for the ride. The frustration of new bedding, running out of medication and unknown surroundings can cause flare ups, but this can be avoided!

Handy precautions can help ease these symptoms so with a few moments’ preparation you can save yourself from a trip of misery.

Medications for travelling with allergies

Make sure that all medications for your trip are always to hand whilst travelling.  Always include more than you think you may need to allow for delays or unexpected extensions to your trip. You could also source a pharmacy near to your location that will be able to supply extra medication, just in case!

Keep all medication in its original packaging, and sealed if possible, to avoid unwanted issues going through airport security.

How will you be travelling?

Car

Car journeys needn’t be an issue, as you can turn it into a safe zone before you hit the road.  The upholstery and ventilation systems in a car can be breeding grounds for mould and dust mites. We recommend that they be treated with mould and dust mite killing solutions, such as Bio-Life Home Cleanse or Air Cleanse at least a couple of hours before you leave.

Try to keep windows closed and your air conditioning to “re-circulate” to lessen your exposure to outdoor allergens.

Plane

Ensure all allergy medication is included in your carry-on bag, as you might well need them, even during short flights. Remember to check you have enough with you for your entire travelling time in case of lost luggage.

Flight cabins hold very dry air and can aggravate nasal allergies. Remember to pack a sinus nasal spray or chew gum and drink plenty of liquids to help clear nasal passages.

Ship

Always ensure that your ship offers medical care on board, particularly if it will be a long journey.

It is always advised to research your destination thoroughly ahead of travel time. Colder climates contain dry air which can aggravate respiratory problems, whereas warm and humid climates hold more pollen and mould.

Staying in Hotels

We don’t want to think about it but every hotel is used by a large volume of people and so many are prime locations for dust mites.

Some hotels now offer allergy-friendly rooms, with air purifiers and allergy-friendly encasements on their bedding.  Whilst booking ask if this is the case and ensure you are given an allergy-friendly room.  (See www.allergyfriendlyhotels.com for more info)

However many hotels do not offer this and so an alternative is to not leave home without your own encasements.

The same encasements you use on your own beds at home year-round, for pillows, duvets and mattresses can be brought along with you and will not take up much of your packing space. This will ensure you get a good night’s sleep.

Products we recommend:

If staying for a prolonged period, or for serious allergies, we would recommend bringing an air purifier for hotels/rented house stays. We would recommend the AirFree range, as they are particularly compact, but still very powerful at sterilising allergens out of the air.

Ensure to call or email ahead to the hotel to ask for bed sizes, so that you can ensure you bring the correct size of pillow or mattress protectors or encasements.

If possible, also request for rooms furthest away from any indoor pools. Close proximity to pools will mean more moisture in walls and air vents.

Find out more about travelling with allergies at Allergy UK.

Coping with a Pet Allergy

Coping with a Pet Allergy

Why causes your pet allergy?

Pet allergy is the second largest cause of allergy in the home in the UK.

Pets release proteins from their hair. When this protein is inhaled or comes into contact with skin, those with pet allergies will have a reaction. Most allergic reactions tend to be hereditary. Often younger children who suffer from asthma will be more likely to develop a pet allergy as they get older.

 Symptoms

Pet allergies do not only occur when touching animals as the proteins from pet hair can remain in households from owner to owner.

Symptoms of a pet allergy include:

  • Sneezing and coughing or Asthmatic coughing and congestion.
  • Itching, watering and reddening of eyes.
  • Hay fever like symptoms of sneezing and a runny and/or blocked nose.
  • Itchy nose, roof of mouth or throat.
  • Itchy and red rashes appearing on skin.
  • Facial pressure and pain.
  • Eczema patches.
  • Frequent awakening while sleeping.
  • Swollen, blue-coloured skin under your eyes.

Pet allergies can exacerbate other ailments you have, such as asthma, eczema, hay fever and eye problems.

What could make your pet allergy worse?

  • Other allergens, such as pollen
  • Pollution
  • Chemicals
  • Car fumes
  • Tobacco smoke from cigarettes

Diagnosis

To diagnose a pet allergy, it is recommended to visit your GP.  A pet allergy can mostly be identified by your symptoms, alongside when and where they occurred. It is likely that either a blood sample or a skin test will be taken to confirm a pet allergy.

 What measures can I take to help my pet allergy?

For pet allergies, there are many precautions you can take to make your life easier.

  • Pet dander can cling to upholstered furniture. However products such as Bio-Life Home Cleanse can make upholstered furniture as allergy-friendly as possible.
  • Air purifiers are excellent for removing pet dander and allergens from the air. This is particularly essential with dogs/cats moving about the home releasing hair and dander particles as they go.
  • Wash bedding weekly at a temperature of at least 60°C. We would recommend using the Allergy UK award winning Bio-Life Fabric Cleanse to improve the standard of your wash.
  • Hard floor surfaces are preferable to carpets and rugs. However if floors are carpeted ensure that they are cleaned at least once a week.  Steam cleaners  will ensure a deep and thorough clean.
  • When choosing duvets and pillows, it is best that they can be cleaned. Basic cotton covers are ineffective in preventing allergens from entering the duvet. Mattress, duvet and pillow protectors/encasements should be used.
  • Anti-Allergy mattresses are recommended for keeping all allergens away from you whilst sleeping. It is also recommended to change your bed every 7 years and allergy sufferers should ensure their bed is anti-allergy.
  • When choosing a vacuum, ensure that is has an allergen filter, so you will get the optimum allergy protection clean every time.

Can I still have pets with an allergy?

If you have a pet allergy it’s advised that you should not become a pet owner. But what happens if you didn’t realise you had an allergy?

Here are our tips for keeping a pet if you have an allergy:

  • When deciding to own a pet, ask a friend or family member who has a pet if you can trial being a pet owner. If you have taken on a pet which you are unable to care for because of your allergy contact the RSPCA for advice.
  • Quite often people who are allergic to pets have very little to no reaction to fish or turtles.
  • If fish and turtles aren’t your thing, rabbits and hamsters still produce allergen proteins, but do not shed as much hair. They are often housed outside which makes them a safer choice for allergy sufferers.
  • Dogs and cats should be cleaned at least once a week to lower the allergen levels in your home. Bio-Life do a range of allergy reducing washes that are pet friendly and help keep your allergies at bay.
  • Air purifiers are excellent for removing pet dander and allergens from the air, which is particularly essential with dogs/cats moving about the home releasing hair and dander particles as they go.

 Other complications?

  • Having an allergy to pets makes people more likely to be affected by other illnesses of the airways.
  • Asthma can be worsened by a pet allergy, and result in the asthmatic suffering severe asthma attacks.
  • Pet allergy sufferers are more susceptible to ear infections.
  • The allergens in the air and on surfaces and skin can cause difficulties with sleeping patterns and in worst case scenarios can cause insomnia.

Medications available

If you suffer from a pet allergy it is important to visit your GP; as you can be at risk of developing asthma, or worsening an already existing asthma problem. Whilst medication can improve and control a pet allergy, it cannot cure it.

Immunotherapy – This is an injection or drops given to people with multiple allergies, which works against the allergy for three years.

Eye drops – Used to lessen inflammation in the eyes

Nasal sprays – Used to lessen inflammation of the nasal passage, and reduce symptoms.

Antihistamines – Tablets or medicine which blocks the histamine produced by your body to reduce the allergic reaction.

Find out more about pet allergies and how to cope with the symptoms at Allergy UK

All you need to know about Hay Fever

All you need to know about Hay Fever

What is hay fever?

Hay Fever is a seasonal allergy to airborne pollen particles. It can cause sneezing, runny or blocked noses, itching in eyes, throat nose and ears, excess mucus, and red or watering eyes.

The hay fever season runs from;

  • February to June – Tree pollen
  • May to July – Grass pollen
  • September to October – Weed and shrub pollen

Symptoms of hay fever include:

  • Sneezing
  • Blocked nose
  • Runny nose
  • Postnasal drip
  • Coughing
  • Itchy throat, eyes and nose
  • Watering Eyes
  • Red rimmed or swollen eyes
  • Dark circles under the eyes
  • Crusting of eyelids

Your GP will not always need to test you for hay fever as they can make a  diagnosis from a description of your symptoms. Tell your GP the reactions you have been having. Remember to include the times of day or night, or season of the year that you experience them.

In rare circumstances, your GP will carry out a skin prick test or a blood test to confirm hay fever.

Tips to prevent symptoms:

  • Carry your medication, tissues and a bottle of water at all times
  • Check the pollen forecast via TV, radio or online, can help you plan your day to best avoid high pollen counts
  • Blow your nose regularly and gently to remove pollen grains
  • Change your clothes and wash your hands, hair and eyes often to get rid of any pollen spores
  • Close windows when inside
  • Wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from any pollen grains

Treatment for hay fever:

  • Anti-histamines relieve sneezing, runny nose, itching of throat and eyes, and should help with watering eyes.
  • Anti-inflammatory nasal sprays, reduce inflammation in the nose, and normally contain steroids.
  • Decongestant tablets unblock a stuffy nose.
  • Bio-Life produces a range of sprays for your home to help reduce and neutralise the dust mite, pet & pollen allergens that are found in the home and that cause allergic reactions.
  • You GP can administer Steroid injections in extreme cases
  • Air purifiers are used to clear homes of pollen, so hay fever sufferers can relax comfortably in their own homes. Air purifiers, remove airborne pollen particles, along with other allergens from the air, allowing you to breath more easily. The AirFree Air Purifiers air filter uses convection to draw in particles and viruses to the ceramic core, where they will be incinerated.
  • Take locally grown honey in the months prior to you symptoms normally appear

Am I more likely to have hay fever if it runs in my family?

It is not yet known exactly why some people develop an allergy to substances such as pollen, but for some people it can run in families. You may be more susceptible to pollen if one or both your parents suffer from hay fever.

Is there a cure for hay fever?

There isn’t yet a cure for hay fever but symptoms can be controlled or lessened through various treatments. Hay fever is more common in teenagers and young adults and many sufferers find that the symptoms lesson with age, with some outgrowing the allergy completely.

How do I follow the pollen count?

Pollen counts are a measure of the number of pollen grains in a cubic metre of air, averaged out over a 24 hour period.They are heavily affected by the amount of sunshine, wind and rain.

  • Low – <30, only highly sensitive hay fever suffers will experience any symptoms.
  • Moderate – 30-49, may produce mild symptoms to sufferers.
  • High – 50-150, most hay fever suffers will experience symptoms.

Which parts of the UK are hot-spots for hay fever?

Large cities tend to be worse for those with hay fever, as the high air pollution can aggravate symptoms even in low pollen count areas.

Due to higher rainfall and a shortened pollen season Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have a decreased pollen count.

Areas with mountains and moors tend to be less affected, as the vegetation in these areas is less allergenic. Inland, lowland areas (like the Midlands) record the highest pollen counts, with coastal areas tending to have the lowest recordings.

Find out more about Hay Fever or other allergies at Allergy UK.

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