Nov 9, 2009

Ways to Combat Allergies

20 Ways to Combat Allergies (Repost)

Stop being sneezy with these simple strategies
Reproduced in entirety from Reader's Digest Hat tip to original author: Stealth Health

Annoying Allergies
If the drip, sniff, sneeze, and itch of allergies have you thinking of buying stock in the company that makes Kleenex, dry your eyes and prepare to take action.

You're going to wage battle inside your house and even inside your body to reduce the number of allergy attacks you suffer and minimize those so-annoying symptoms. Allergies may not be life-threatening, but they're nothing to sneeze at either. Here are 20 of the best ways to protect yourself.

1. Choose chicken instead of beef. A two-year study of 334 adults with hay fever and 1,336 without found those who had the most trans oleic acid in their diets, a form of monounsaturated fat found primarily in meat and dairy products, were nearly three times as likely to have hay fever as those who ate the least. Don't worry, olive oil is okay; although it's got a lot of oleic acid, it's not the "trans" form.

2. Pop a fish-oil supplement every morning after you brush your teeth. A study of people with allergic asthma (asthma caused by allergies) found those who took daily fish-oil supplements for a month had lower levels of leukotrienes, chemicals that contribute to the allergic reaction.

3. Turn on the AC. Air conditioners remove mold-friendly moisture and filter allergens entering the house. Just make sure to clean or change the filters often or you'll just make things worse.

4. Eat one kiwifruit every morning. They're rich in vitamin C, which acts as a natural antihistamine. Some studies link low levels of C with allergies. When your allergies are flaring up, consider taking a vitamin C supplement.

5. Steam vacuum your furniture and carpets and include a solution of disodium octaborate tetrahydrate (DOT), a boron-based product, in the water. A 2004 study published in the journal Allergy found DOT cut dust mite populations and their associated allergen levels to undetectable levels for up to six months.

6. Take 250 milligrams of quercetin three times a day. This natural supplement is a potent anti-inflammatory flavonoid, and it is widely used in natural medicine practices to fight allergies.

7. Clean out your gutters and make sure they're not clogged. Clogged gutters can result in water seeping into the house, leading to mold growth, which can exacerbate allergies. Next time it rains, check your gutters. If you see water leaking out of end caps, flowing on the outside, or dripping behind them, it's time to get out the ladder.

8. Always run the exhaust fan and/or leave the window and door open when taking a shower or bath. Another option is to run a small portable fan (away from water sources) during and after showers. Again, you're trying to keep surfaces dry and prevent the growth of mold. Also, check to see that the vent on the outside of your house where the exhaust exits isn't blocked by leaves.

9. Wash the shower curtain in hot water and bleach every month. Or use a shower liner that you can replace every couple of months for just a few bucks.

10. Keep your thermostat set above 65°F in the winter. If you set it too low, you're encouraging the growth of mold in damp air. The heat dries out the air, preventing mold growth. Of course, too-dry air can also irritate your lungs and sinuses. The perfect humidity in a home is around 50 percent.

Locate and Destroy
11. Wash all your bedding in very hot water every week. It's the best way to kill those pesky microscopic dust mites that love your bed even more than you do.

12. Follow your dryer vent and make sure it's vented to the outside. For every load of laundry you dry, 20 pounds of moisture has to go somewhere! If your dryer is vented to the garage or basement, you're just asking for mold buildup.

13. Clean the tray under the fridge with a bleach solution and sprinkle with salt. The tray is a veritable mold magnet. Adding salt reduces the growth of mold and bacteria. Also, clean under the refrigerator occasionally; food can become trapped there, become moldy, and the mold spores are blown into the kitchen every time the compressor kicks in.

14. Water your plants sparingly and put pebbles on top of the dirt to discourage mold spores from getting into the air. Overwatering houseplants can contribute to the growth of mold. Also, water might leak through the plant onto the carpet.

15. Spend this weekend decluttering. Throw out or give away coats and other clothing you haven't used in the past year. Put sports equipment in the garage or basement where it belongs. Slip shoes into hanging shoe bags. When you finish, you should be able to see all your closets' floors and back walls. Now give everything a good vacuum and you'll have significantly reduced the amount of dust in your house.

16. Keep your bedroom door shut so your dog and/or cat can't get in. Let him bark or meow. You spend more time in your bedroom than any other room of the house, and this keeps down cat and dog dander, to which many people are allergic.

17. Choose a doormat made of synthetic material. Doormats made of natural material (wicker, etc.) can break down and become excellent feeding grounds for mites, mold, and fungus, and then get tracked into the house. Wash all mats weekly.

18. Clean all dead insects from your porch lights. As they decompose, they can become an allergen source.

19. Put a shelf by the front door for shoes and encourage your family and guests to remove their shoes before entering to reduce the amount of dust, mold, and other allergens tracked in. Keep some soft slippers in a basket by the front door for people who don't want to walk around in their stocking feet.

20. Read labels and avoid foods that contain the additive monosodium benzoate. An Italian study found that monosodium benzoate triggered allergy-like symptoms, including runny, stuffy nose, sneezing, and nasal itching, in adults without allergies. The preservative is often found in juices, pie fillings, pickles, olives, and salad dressings.

People are rarely allergic to the things that make up a house -- that is, the paint, wood, steel, plastic, and such. Instead, it's the microscopic things growing and accumulating in the house that cause allergies. Those unwanted occupants come in several forms, but the most prevalent in-home allergies are dust and its components (primarily dust mite and cockroach droppings -- yuck!), molds, fungi, and pet dander. Our room-by-room plan will help you identify allergy "hot spots" and get them under control.

  • Use a doormat made of synthetic material. A doormat made of natural material (such as rope or other fibers) can break down and become a good environment for mites, mold, and fungus, which then get tracked into the house. Wash all mats weekly.
  • Clean dead insects from porch lights. As they decompose, they become an allergen source.
  • Put a rack by the front door for footwear. Encourage your family and guests to remove their shoes when entering. This will reduce the amount of dust, mold, and other allergens that are tracked in.
  • Tackle the dust. Clean behind the bed and dressers, under the bed, and on the top of the ceiling fan. Always use a damp cloth; dry cloths just spread the dust around.
  • Eliminate the following items, which are dust and dust mite magnets: wall-to-wall carpeting, blinds and curtains, down-filled comforters, anything made with feathers, stuffed animals, and upholstered headboards.
  • Make the bedroom a no-pet zone. Keep your door shut so they can't even cross the threshold.
  • Strip your bed. Wash everything, including the comforter or blankets, in 130°F water. Wipe down the mattress with a damp rag.
  • Keep clothing in zippered plastic bags and shoes in boxes off the floor.
  • Forgo mothballs in favor of cedar chips, or store clean woolens in sealed plastic or airtight containers. You can also place garments in the freezer for several days to kill moths and larvae.
  • Check corners and walls for mold. You may have a leak you've never noticed because it's in the back of a dark, crowded closet.
  • Check under and behind toilets to make sure there's no mold growing because of condensation. Make sure toilets are installed properly so water doesn't leak into the walls or floors, which could encourage mold.
  • Wash the shower curtain in hot water once a month. Or use a shower curtain liner that you can replace inexpensively every couple of months.
  • Wash the bath mat in hot water every week. The dampness from stepping onto it wet from a shower can attract dust mites and cause mold growth.
  • Run the exhaust fan or leave the window and door open when taking a shower or bath.
  • Get rid of your overstuffed couch. Replace it with leather or vinyl, which will not be as hospitable to dust mites and other allergens.
  • Consider replacing the carpet. Solid-surface flooring, such as laminate, vinyl, or wood, is much less likely to harbor allergens. For the same reason, consider swapping fabric window curtains with simple shades.
  • Check your houseplants. Put pebbles on top of the dirt to prevent mold spores from getting into the air too easily.
  • Put the contents of all open boxes of food in airtight containers to discourage insects.
  • Clean the tray under the refrigerator with a bleach solution. It's a mold magnet. Add salt to the drip tray to help reduce the growth of mold and bacteria.
  • Check under the sink. Quite often, a sink sprayer leaks around the fittings, and water drips under the sink, soaking everything down there and creating a perfect environment for mold.

  • Inspect every inch of your basement, including crawlspaces, for signs of dampness and mold. If you find any, clean the area with bleach solution.
  • Check all belongings stored in the basement. Anything that is stored directly on a concrete floor -- such as boxes, newspapers, clothing, or wood -- is vulnerable to mold and rot from condensation.
  • Measure the humidity with an instrument called a hygrometer, available in most hardware stores. You want a reading below 50 percent.

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