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Five Ways to Reduce Cold Weather Allergens

This post is brought to you by Olivia Jones and it's her very first blog post on my website! Olivia is a psychologist, passionate writer, an entrepreneur, a traveler and conscious consumer, seeking healthy and sustainable products to incorporate into the lives of her family. Here are her five best tips for reducing cold Weather Allergens:

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People often wrongly assume that spring and summer are the only seasons that bring all those sneezy joys of allergic reactions to those who are lucky enough to experience them. But fear not! Cold months of the year have a whole range of allergens floating in the air as well, equally annoying and debilitating if not tackled properly. 

Whether your symptoms resemble a typical cold, which might make it more difficult to treat unless you can tell the difference, or you’re struggling with rashes and skin irritations, winter can be quite a pain in the neck. Instead of leaving things to chance, you can implement certain lifestyle changes and enjoy the snow-laden months with fewer interruptions and buzz-kills!

Plan Ahead

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Winter lovers everywhere hate the very notion of winter allergies, because they are often prompted by doctors to stay inside and avoid your allergens. And in order to avoid high levels of juniper pollen, mold or mildew, it may sometimes be better to stick to a warm cup of cocoa and snuggle inside a blanket with a good book in your hands. But you cannot possibly hibernate the entire winter, so how can you organize your outings more efficiently?

Use your local weather forecast to make sure you avoid peak allergen times in your area, and schedule your outdoor fun time during those hours when you have the least chances of experiencing an allergy attack. The same goes for picking the right spots to visit – steer clear of areas that are too humid and where mold thrives in abundance. 

Revise your hygiene 

First thing’s first! You may feel that a shower as soon as you return to your toasty retreat is enough to kill those damn irritants from outside. But unfortunately, we often track our allergens inside on our shoes and clothes, so having a solid doormat can save you a lot of trouble with allergies. And although you cannot possibly wash everything every time you put it on, hanging it out into the sunlight and fresh air can help reduce their effect.

Moreover, you may want to ask your guests to lose the shoes at the front door as a precaution. When it comes to bedding, perhaps the weekly change of sheets and pillowcases isn’t good enough for your allergies, so you may need to pick it up a notch. Try finding bedding made of hypoallergenic fabric, air them as many times as possible, and keep your jammies and your clothes in the same allergy-friendly-fabric range. This may impose some limitations on your style, but think of it as a fashion challenge!

Take a deep breath

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Cold weather and gloomy skies often keep us uninspired when it comes to opening those windows regularly, so we spend our days in stuffy rooms with high concentrations of dust, pet dander and other common irritants. Why not start out by finding the best air purifier for allergies for your home, and adding plants (the ones you’re not allergic to, hopefully) to cleanse your indoor air?

These additions can be especially useful during winter, and while you sleep, as your respiratory system will finally get a moment of peace and you’ll be able to rest properly and reset your immune system. Ideally, you can also organize an occasional weekend excursion into nature, where you can detox your body from urban pollution and help reduce your allergies in the right environment. 
 

Cleanliness 101

Spending hours every couple of days to make your home squeaky clean is not just a hassle, but a potential hazard for your allergy-ridden immune system if you don’t choose the right supplies. Sure, they may be effective in killing germs, but if they are highly toxic and filled with chemicals, maybe exposing yourself to them so often can only cause more harm than good.

Instead, you can opt for equally powerful, but milder, natural versions of cleansers that are not just eco-friendly (a great perk nonetheless), but also don’t wreak havoc on your body. You can either make your own by mixing certain cleansing ingredients, or opt for store-bought products that will keep your health intact! 

To learn more about Olivia follow her on Twitter!

How to Avoid Nickel in Pots and Pans

Out of all my allergies (here's the full list), nickel is one of the most annoying because it's eeeverywhere. From clothing to utensils and even the dentist's office... it seems impossible to escape (read more about that here). One place you'll potentially find nickel is in your kitchen. I don't know about you, but I love love love to cook... so, the kitchen is one of the LAST places I want to worry about nickel. Not only can you come into contact with nickel in pots/pans, but certain metals (including nickel) can transfer into your food during the cooking process... meaning that you could be ingesting it as well.

No worries, though! I got you!

Here's how you can get over the pots and pans hurdle:

Use a nickel testing kit

They're a tad pricey, but totally worth it. It's quick, easy and straight to the point. Just drop some of the solution on a q-tip, rub firmly on the surface of what you're testing and if the q-tip turns pink, you know the item contains nickel. (Get yours here!)

Be aware that stainless steel is actually an alloy

And it often contains nickel! Stainless steel usually contains chromium, nickel and other various metals. On stainless steel pots and pans, there will be a numerical stamp on the bottom: two numbers with a slash in between. 18/18 or 18/10 are two of the commonly used stamps. The first number indicates the percentage of chromium and the second indicates the percentage of nickel.

When it comes to stainless steel grades in pots and pans, there are two classification: the "300 series" and the "400 series". The 300 series contains nickel and the 400 series is the one people usually go to as it can be touted as "nickel-free". However, that's not completely true! There's still a tiny bit of nickel that can be in it: .75% to be exact.

Within any allergy, there's a range of severity. People who are very mildly allergic to nickel would probably do fine with the 400 series, but for those with a more moderate or severe allergy... it's best to stay away from stainless steel altogether.

Ceramic Cookware

You can avoid metal completely and go with ceramic! I think this is actually what I'm going to buy next. Ceramic cookware is beautiful too! And it comes in all sorts of colors. I'll definitely be on the prowl for red items when it's time ;-)

Glass Cookware

This is a great option for pots, but I would never use a glass pan if I had the choice. Why? Because everything sticks to them! I had a set of glass pots and was happy to get rid of them for that exact reason. Glass is great for boiling stuff, but as far as I'm concerned - that's it. Glass is still remains a helpful alternative for nickel allergy, though. And hey, maybe there are people out there who are masters at cooking on their stove top with glass, but it's not me! ;-)

 

Source: Rebecca Wood

How to Prep Your Home for Spring Allergy Season

For the first time in FOREVER, it finally hit 70 degrees in Chicagoland this week! Woohoo! 

While this is fabulous news, it is also the signal of Spring. Spring means that seasonal allergens are about to punch me in the face. I'm allergic to tree pollen, ragweed, common weed and mold, so it's a doozy.

As winter comes to a close, there's always a bit more dust in our house than usual. Natural sunlight kills dust and there's nothing like a good breeze flowing through the house and sweeping the dust right out of the windows... both of these are things we don't get lots of in the winter!

Before spring officially sets in, it's a good idea to get rid of any extra dust. Who needs to be dealing with a dust mite allergy at the same time as seasonal allergies? Not me There are also a few things you can do to help you get your home ready for the upcoming spring allergy season ;-)

Here are some tips to help you get your home in a more allergy-friendly state:

 

Bust the dust from all surfaces

When I do a deep clean, I like to have the windows open so the extra dust can get out of there easily. Now that winter is ending, open up those windows and get to dusting!

Make sure to move your furniture and clean underneath to get those sneaky dust bunnies (little jerks!). Dust from the top of the room to the bottom because it's waaay more efficient. Use a slightly moist cloth to dust surfaces. This makes the dust stick to the cloth even better than dry Swiffer-like products. It's also a good idea to pick up an allergy-friendly vacuum as well. Here's a list!

 

Pound the dust out of those couch cushions

If you've never done this before, omg, go do it right now. The amount of dust that lives in our cushions is pretty disturbing. Make sure you do this outside and away from any open windows!

 

Change out your air filters

It's time to swap out those dirty filters! I'm not just talking about the filters in your portable room air purifiers, but also your central air system. HEPA filters are the way to go. They're made specifically to keep allergens out. Here's what we use at our house!

 

Put air filters in your windows

Sounds weird, right? But it's a real thing and it works! Even though opening up the windows to get rid of dust is great, it presents another problem: outdoor allergens coming IN. That's exactly what this SafeGuard filter prevents! It's been proven to keep out 96% of ragweed, which I'm allergic to.

 

Wash your curtains

I know, this sounds like a pain, right? But fabric is a major dust magnet. If they're too delicate for the washing machine, send your curtains to the dry cleaner. If you don't want to do either of those things, at LEAST take them outside and give them a good ol' fashioned shake. Or hang them over the railing of your porch and whack it with a clean broom.

 

Invest in a good door mat

Allergens CAN get tracked into the house via the bottom of our shoes, so make people wipe their feet or even better - leave their shoes at the door!

 

One final tip: If you're on the hunt for some great allergy products, download the handy dandy guide of all my favorites!

(It also includes all my daily essentials!)

The Health Disrupter Journal Has Arrived!

I am SOOOO incredibly excited to present my first-ever Allergista product - the Health DIsrupter Journal! :-D

Since December, I've been crushing weekend and weeknight hours as I've created this wonderful little thing. When I took a look around our allergy and eczema community, I noticed that many of us do or have done one of the same exact things: recording our daily routine in an effort to find out what's causing our skin reactions/disrupting our digestive system.

That's when it hit me: I wanted to tailor something JUST FOR US.

I thought: instead of scribbling food/activities into a spiral notebook and dealing with the difficult (and time consuming) task of reviewing all I've written and somehow drawing conclusions about what was disrupting my health... all of that extremely useful information could be funneled into an organized system!

Aw yeah.

I took my twelve years of graphic design expertise, coupled it with my six years of allergy/eczema experience and came out with something that's pretty freakin' awesome! 

The Health Disrupter Journal is for anybody who deals with:

  • Eczema that flares due to certain foods or other factors
  • Allergies
  • Food intolerances
  • Celiac Disease
  • Crohn's
  • any other health issue causing you to pay attention to your food and daily activities

This results-based journal allows you to track your daily environment easily and systematically. You’ll have the opportunity to view trends and draw parallels between the reactions of your body and potential disrupters.

Eliminate those potential disrupters and your health could improve vastly!

Pretty sweet, right?

For just $15, you’ll receive a seventeen page journal which will guide you through one entire month. The Health Disrupter Journal is for any month of any year - just fill in the dates and you're good to go!

Ready to pinpoint that stinkin' suspect disrupting your health?