Thursday, 30 May 2013

Is it a Cold or Allergy?

Having suffered from allergic rhinitis for years, I have learnt to differentiate between a cold vs allergy on my own without visiting the doctor. That said, I'm not encouraging you to do the same as health condition of everyone differs. This table is just a guideline that I've come up with based on my own experience. I want to point out that it is possible to get BOTH the allergy and cold at the same time, which is a double whammy, so these symptoms can overlap. How is this possible? For example, if you are down with cold and resting more at home but at the same time you are allergic to dust mites which is commonly found indoors on mattresses etc, then you may come down with the cold symptoms as well as experiencing itchiness. You can read more about cold vs allergy in here.


Monday, 27 May 2013

Anti Dust Mite Bedding Covers - A Must for those with Dust Mite Allergy

"The first and most important step to reduce dust mites is to cover mattresses and pillows in zippered dust-proof covers. These covers are made of a material with pores too small to let dust mites and their waste product through and are called allergen-impermeable. " - Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America
Unfortunately for me, this was kind of the last step I took after years of suffering from allergic rhinitis. I was given an allergy guide in the hospital after I had a skin prick test to confirm my dust mite allergy and there I learnt about anti dust mites bedding covers. Wow, why didn't I get to know about this product earlier? For the next few months, I shopped around locally and found that there were only 2 retail stores in Singapore selling such products and are all very pricey compared to purchasing it online and shipping it from overseas.
I ordered them online and started using the anti dust mite bedding covers early this year and have not looked back since. I was sleeping MUCH better at night, without having to wake up sneezing and having congested nose in the middle of the night. The mornings are also better, though I still have some sneezing and abit of runny nose in some of the mornings, but they are a lot more in control definitely. The money is certainly well spent as it has improved my allergic rhinitis condition tremendously. My only regret is not getting it earlier and having to suffer so much for so long. 
For those who are allergic to dust mite, I highly recommend that you get yourself a good anti dust mite bedding set. Allergy Store is now having Memorial Day Sale with 13% discount on their items (note certain exclusions in their website). Sale ends 31 May 2013. What I like about Allergy Store is that it offers international shipping & accept international credit card as payment. Also for some of their anti dust mite bedding cover series, they offer LIFETIME warranty. For those suffering hay fever this spring, Allergy Store also has a wide range of products such as air purifiers, masks, vacuum cleaners etc that can help provide some relief.

Friday, 24 May 2013

Sneezy Blues is on Twitter Now

Keeping this short as I'm still recovering. Just want to let you know that I've finally started using Twitter (since last week) and you can see my Twitts on the right column of this blog. There are lots of great sharing on allergic rhinitis, hay fever, sinusitis, alternative healing etc in the Twitter by many others, so do check it out and follow me on Twitter for more updates.

Monday, 20 May 2013

Spouse's Support of Allergic Rhinitis Sufferer is Important

I came up with a short FAQ for my hubby to do on being a spouse of allergic rhinitis sufferer. To be honest, I have never asked him how he felt about being one or if he felt inconvenience by my condition at all. So this was quite an eye opener for me to his inner thoughts.

Q1) How bad is her allergy?
Her allergy can get really bad. She can achoo non-stop for almost 5 mins. And she can use up more than half a box of tissues in a day.
Q2) Do you feel embarrassed that your wife keeps sneezing and blowing her nose in the public when her allergic rhinitis acts up?
Am I embarrassed? Hmm... Not at all. Maybe I am so used to it after more than 15 years together.
Q3) Does it affect your sleep when she keeps sneezing & blowing her nose in the middle of the night?
I am a deep sleeper. So usually I am not awaken by her. It's more like I am disturbing her sleep as my snoring is thunderous.
Q4) How does it affect you during the day time when her allergic rhinitis acts up? And how do you cope with it?
When it acts up during the day, it's probably just another day. I just need to make sure we have enough tissues for her when we go out.
Q5) Imagine if you are armed with super power and can make ONE of her allergic rhinitis symptom disappear for good, what would that be & why? Sneezing / congestion/ itchy & watery eyes / fatigue / moody.
If I have super powers, I will make the sneezing goes away. Because sneezing is the start of everything else. Her mood gets bad with bad sneezing. That's when I need to find somewhere to hide. :-D

Q6) What advice would you give to partners of allergic rhinitis sufferers?
Be supportive and understanding at all times. Always be careful not to stir up dust that may trigger the reaction. If you are a smoker, don't smoke at home and quit it. Most importantly, ensure you always have tissues on hand in case she starts sneezing and needs it.

Well, I just want to say a BIG thank you to my ever supportive and lovely hubby for always being there for me and being very patient with me when the terrible allergic rhinitis flares up. Love you lots!


Friday, 17 May 2013

15 Things Allergists Won’t Tell You

Summary of headlines from the Reader's Digest post, with my own comments in italics.

1) Is every year really “the worst one yet” for allergies? Possibly.
What do we expect from global warming and lots of pollution everywhere everyday? This is the consequence mankind has to bear. I'm not sure what kind of environment our next generation will have to live it.

2) Don’t assume you know what you’re allergic to.
 Its good to get a skin prick test (like me) or blood test to determine your allergens so that you don't keep guessing and wasting your time.

3) Those OTC decongestants are a waste of money.
This headline statement is misleading in my opinion. Just be sure that the OTC decongestant contain pseudoephedrine and it should be quite effective, at least for me. Read my antihistamine medication post.

4) Antihistamines don’t work as well as you think.
 Again dont quite agree on this myself, unless its a really bad severe bout of sinus infection for me, then yeah, steriod nasal spray is more effective.

5) Make sure your medication treats your symptoms.
Totally agree. Read the drug labels carefully.

6) Allergy shots help a lot, but they’re not right for everyone.
Not done allergy shot myself, so can't comment.

7) You’re starting treatment too late.

8) You don't want to hear this from me, but you’re getting too fat.
Diet and weight is always a factor in any health issue. I would like to think that my sensible diet is a contributing factor for keeping my allergic rhinitis under fairly good control.

9) If you tell me that you’re allergic to your pet, then I know you’re really suffering.

10) If you’re allergic to dust mites, use those bedding covers.
Yes yes yes! Please do get a good one. This is definitely one of the biggest turn around factor in my improving allergy condition. You can get from the Allergy Store

11) Neti pots are weird, but they work.
To be honest, I've not tried this yet though I heard many rave reviews from allergy sufferers on this product. Actually I'm a bit scared to pour something into my nose. But its a natural treatment that I will keep in mind if the need ever arise.

12) Your adult-onset allergies may have been around longer than you think.
Not for me. I started having allergic rhinitis only when I was 14. I'm not sure if its been in my genes though and not flared up until then.

13) There’s no such thing as a real hypoallergenic dog.
Hmm, I don't know well enough about this to comment but I gravitate towards agreeing with the writer on this.

14) There’s no need to suffer through allergy season.
Take pro-active actions!

15) Don’t move across the country just because you have allergies.
Well I've heard this from my own doctor as well. I've told him how I was "allergic-free" during my half year stay at eastern part of USA, he told me if I had stayed longer, I might have develop allergies to other allergens.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

My Antihistamine Medication

Those of you suffering from allergic rhinitis should be quite familar with these antihistamine medication: Zyrtec-D, Clarinase, Xyzal, all of which I have taken.

Contains loratadine and pseudoephedrine sulfate, which relieve both runny nose and congestion. My first antihistamine medication prescribed by the doctor after he diagnosed my condition as allergic rhinitis. I have not had my skin prick test yet then. That was 20 years ago and I think it was not sold over the counter (OTC) then. At that time, I was told by the doctor that this is quite a new drug and it does not cause drowsiness. It is available OTC now.

Side effect for me: Made my mouth and throat dry. I can't recall if it caused me insomnia and fast heartbeat as its been a long time since I've last taken this.

I think this drug came into the market later. After I relocated and visited another doctor, I was prescribed this. Both Zyrtec and Zyrtec-D are over-the-counter antihistamines that contain cetirizine. The difference is that Zyrtec-D contains  pseudoephedrine which is a decongestant. My allergic rhinitis is usually accompained by stuffy nose, so I usually take this instead of Zyrtec.

Side effect for me: Made my mouth and throat dry. Insomnia and fast heartbeat. I was wondering why my nose was cleared and there I was eyes wide open, unable to fall asleep. It was only after I went to read the pamphlet inside the medication box that I realised insomnia is one of the possible side effect. So no more taking this at night. Only in the morning if necessary.

I was only introduced to Xyzal (levocetirizine) probably about 2 years back, when I feedback to my doctor that Zyrtec-D is causing insomnia. He told me to take Xyzal at night and Zyrtec-D in the morning. I think this is due to an episode of flu, which usually tends to take long time to recover and feels worse than normal people do given my history of allergic rhinitis. If its just purely allergic rhinitis bad flare up, taking one tablet of (any) antihistamine a day is good enough to keep it under control. This is a prescribed antihistamine and is not available OTC in Singapore unless with doctor's prescription letter.

Side effect for me: So far none. It does not cause drowsiness and yet allows me to fall asleep at night.

As I've mentioned before, I only take antihistamine as a last resort, where I rate my flare up as severe, otherwise, I try to use other natural ways for relief as I try to minimize consumption of medical drugs. Read my post on Classifying my Allergic Rhinitis Severity .

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Sinus Congestion Relief with Acupressure Points

Due to family commitment, I've not been able to update this blog regularly this week. Just a quick one here for those suffering from sinus congestion, this is a nice video showing how to relieve blockage and pain in the sinuses using 5 acupressure points.

I have previously shared a video on Allergy Relief with Acupressure Points . Check it out if you are interested in alternative healing.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Managing Dust Mites - List of Don'ts & No-No

Dust mites are such small microscopic creatures that I know that no amount of cleaning will get rid of them. But there are some avoidance steps we can take to minimize the growth of them. This is especially important if you are allergic to dust mites like I do.

List of Don'ts & No-No
Dust mite allergies -Don't sweep with a broom. It will stir up the dust and the mites.

-No carpets. Dust mites love to hide there. I don't have carpets at home, don't see a need to. I have hard laminate flooring which is also easy to clean.

-No stuff toys. I never encourage my boy to play with them and I don't keep them at home. He has more than enough toys and not having stuff toys is not going to make a big difference.

-Avoid upholstered furnitures, cushions and curtains. I know this is tough. I have cushions and curtains at home. I use the cushions more for back support and I don't hug them. My curtains are washable and I wash them with anti-dust mites detergents. My furniture set is made of wood, hard for the dust mites to hide and easy for me to clean. Leather sofas are a good option as well.

-Don't use humidifier. Dust mites thrive in warm humid places especially when relative humidity exceeds 50%.

I will follow up with another post in future on what I DO to minimize the growth of dust mites.

Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Golden Rules for Allergy Friendly Garden

How are you coping so far with Hay Fever during this spring time? I hope you are doing good. Do share with us how you cope with seasonal allergic rhinitis this spring. And if you have a garden, here are some allergy tips from Asthma Foundation- New South Wales, on creating one which is wheeze-free and sneeze-free.

If you suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis and is interested in gardening, this book Allergy-Free Gardening by Thomas Leo Ogren is highly recommended. Average of 4.8/5 star rating for this book on Amazon.