Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Take Care of Your Body

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

The Fall Allergies: What Are They And How To Cope

I see alot of people twitting about their allergies now during the Fall. I hope this post can help them manage their allergies abit better.    There are 2 main culprits for Fall allergies. Ragweed and Mold. 

1) Ragweed 

Is a weed that flowers from around mid August to late October. A single plant can produce 1 billion pollen grains per season and its pollen can travel up to 400 miles in the wind. With this in mind, if you are allergic to it, its hard to completely avoid it.

How to cope with Ragweed allergies

I've previously talked about managing Spring allergies here, and many of those tips can be applied to Fall allergies. On top of those tips, here's some additional ones: 

-Keep ragweed from taking root in your garden by planting cover crops
-Hanging out at the beach is a good idea as pollen levels are often lower there

2) Mold

Mold is a type of fungus and they produce tiny spores. They can be a problem for allergy sufferers both indoors and outdoors. Wet piles of fallen leaves are great breeding grounds for the mold.

How to cope with Mold allergies 

-Clean up fallen leaves promptly
-Keep your pile covered so any mold spores will stay put
-Wear a face mask when handling the leaves in the Fall
-Use a de-humidifier to keep indoor humidity between 35%-50% to contain mold growth
-Indoor Mold control products such as sprays, sealers etc

I hope these tips will help you chase away the Fall allergy blues!

Wednesday, 18 September 2013

Wordless Wednesday - Your Food Can Be Your Medicine

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

Understanding The Over-the-Counter (OTC) Antihistamines

Those of you with allergies must have taken some antihistamines at some point in your life. Do you know them well and how it works? Here's some information from to help you understand your antihistamine better.

credit: FamilyDoctor.Org

-There are 2 types of OTC antihistamines available: first-generation and second-generation antihistamines. First-generation antihistamines are also sometimes used in OTC cold medicines.

-When your body is exposed to allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, pollens etc, it releases histamines. Histamines attach to the mast cells in your body and cause them to swell and leak fluid. The leak fluid comes out in the form of runny nose, watery eyes and accompanied by itching and sneezing. Antihistamines prevent histamines from attaching to your cells and causing these symptoms.

-Common side effects: sleepiness, dry mouth and eyes, abdominal pain and headaches. The second-generation antihistamines are less likely to cause these side effects.

-Antihistamines can interact with other drugs you take and are often combined with decongestants and/or pain relievers. It is important to check with your doctor before taking them.

Out of this list, I've taken the first-generation antihistamine: Chlorpheniramine (for my pregnancy), and second-generation antihistamines: Loratadine (clarinase), Cetirizine (Zyrtec). I've talked about them here previously. I have also taken a newer antihistamine, levocetirizine (Xyzal) which according to Wikipedia is a third-generation antihistamine that was approved by FDA in 2007. In Singapore, Xyzal requires the doctor's prescription and cannot be bought OTC. I believe it is the same in other countries, given that it is a relatively new drug.

Friday, 13 September 2013

Great Decongestant for Blocked Nose - And Its a Non-Drug!

2 weeks back, my little bub complained of blocked nose and after monitoring him for a week, there was no improvement. However there were no other symptoms as well. Just blocked nose. He was still eating and playing well. The Xylitol Nasal Spray that I had bought for him online from the States had ran out and shipping would have taken too long to reach for him to use in time. I had some brand new decongestant spray from the doctor who prescribed them to him previously when he was down with flu, but I was reluctant to use them. I prefer to use something natural, if I can help it. Plus, his condition was not serious to warrant the use of the medicated decongestant spray.
I went to our local pharmacy nearby to look for saline nasal spray but they were out of stock! I've always seen them around and just when you needed it , they were out of stock?? Anyway, the positive thing that came out of it was I started searching the shelf for other alternatives and saw the Olbas Oil For Children. It is an inhalant decongestant oil. How interesting! Always careful about the ingredients, I turned to the side for more information. It is a special mixture of pure plant oils, with ingredients including clove oil, eucalyptus, juniper berry and cajuput. It is suitable for babies from 3 months old onwards, which I interpret it to be quite gentle, else how can a 3 month old baby use it? Feeling quite satisfied, I bought it for my boy to try.

Before bed time, I added 8-12 drops (for children aged 2 onwards, a smaller dose for younger ones) to a tissue and held it close to his nose for him to breathe in the vapour for a few minutes. The smell is strong but soothing. I did that for 2 to 3 days nightly and noticed his blocked nose was alot better. Wonderful!
From what I gathered, Olbas oil originated in Basel, Switzerland over 100 years ago. Wow! I have never heard of this product before, I must be a dinosaur, lol! And the reviews in amazon were mostly positive. They have the adult version as well and you can also drip it into hot water to inhale the vapours.
So glad I get to know this natural product by chance. I think it will be something handy for the whole family whenever they are down with blocked nose either due to flu or allergies.  

Monday, 9 September 2013

What Allergy Medicine Did I take during Pregnancy?

I came across an article today by Dr. Manura Nanayakkara on the side effects of Piriton which triggered my interest to write this blog post. I have previously talked about my antihistamine medication and this article today reminded me of Piriton, which I took during my pregnancy* a few years back.

Quick introduction of Piriton: Also known as Chlorpheniramine, it is a First-Generation antihistamine and is available over the counter (OTC). Amongst its side effects, First-Generation antihistamine commonly causes drowsiness and dry mouth.

My obstetrician prescribed me Piriton when I complained that my allergic rhinitis has worsened severely during pregnancy and assured me that it is safe to take. And as far as he knows, this is the only known safe antihistamine for pregnancy as its been around for a long time. Dosage was 1 tab at bedtime as it may cause drowsiness.

I've always been reluctant to take medication due to its side effects and only take them when I feel really awful and there is no other way out. This is more so during pregnancy. I think due to hormonal changes, my allergic rhinitis condition deteriorated during pregnancy and I always find myself losing sleep due to constant sneezing, runny nose which is often congested as well. The lack of sleep and my allergy made me feel like crap and I had no choice but succumb to taking a few Piriton tabs during my entire pregnancy journey for relief. A few tabs only for 9 months? Well, on days when I had my allergy and the usual discomfort that came with it, I bore with it and avoided Piriton, unless I was at risk of blowing my nose off!

My spouse, on the other hand, is more open with regards to taking medication, especially seeing how much discomfort I had to endure for my allergic condition and would ask me to take it more often for relief since its been given the green light by my obstetrician. I was also concerned that my constant sneezing would affect my baby as my sneezes can be quite forceful at times! Such is the dilemma for a pregnant mother - to take or not to take?

To all pregnant ladies out there with allergic rhinitis: I wish u all best and hope that you cope well with your allergic condition. Hang in there! :) Please be extra cautious and consult your doctor on the type of medication you can take and be aware of the side effects. I would not recommend taking any OTC drugs unless you get the go-ahead from your doctor.

*I have not gone for my allergy test then and did not do much research on my own, so was not aware of products like saline nasal spray, neti-pots, anti dust mite beddings etc which could help.

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

Tips to Cope with Pet Allergies at Home

Love your dogs but you are allergic to them? The bad news as I've mentioned in an earlier post is that there is no such thing as hypoallergenic dogs. But the good news is that there are ways to reduce the allergens, and hopefully in this way can help you to manage your allergies better and yet still own a pet.

-Groom them regularly and bathe them at least twice a week. A 1999 study in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology compared the levels of allergens in dog dander before and after a five-minute bath and found that the bath reduced the dogs’ allergen levels by about 85%. But the allergen levels returned to normal in about 3 days, hence the need to be washed at least twice a week.

-Groom them outside and keep your pet outdoors as much as possible. At the very least, keep them away from bedrooms where people with allergies sleep.

-Getting a smaller dog may help as it should produce less allergen and it is easier to bathe.

-Replace carpets with wood flooring as it traps less dander and is easier to clean.

- Best to keep pets off carpets, upholstered furniture, and beds to reduce exposure to dander.

-Vacuum regularly with HEPA vacuum cleaner.

-Use a HEPA air purifier to reduce airborne pet allergens

You may also find these pet allergen control products useful in managing your pet allergies.