Monday, 23 December 2013

Merry Christmas! - May the Christmas cheer offset your sneezy blues. Merry Christmas!

Friday, 20 December 2013

5 Tips For Allergy-Friendly Christmas Decoration

Tis the season to be jolly, fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la! I am sure many of us are basking in the Christmas mood with Christmas shopping and decoration at home. If you have allergic rhinitis or a sensitive nose, you have to be a little more careful when doing up that Christmas decor at home so that you don't end up with A-cho-cho-cho A-cho-cho-cho! Here's some useful tips:

1) Use an artificial Christmas tree. Dust and pollen are possible triggers for your allergies in live trees. Some may also be allergic to the tree sap or fragrance from certain types of trees.

2) Never use scented candles. It could irritate your nose and cause respiratory problems. You can opt for 100% pure essential oil to create the scent or use unscented beeswax candle to create the atmosphere.

3) Keep an eye on mold growth especially if you have any fresh indoor plants or flowers (e.g Poinsettias) as moist soil are breeding ground for mold. Breathing in the mold spores could cause your nose to act up and irritate those with sensitive airways.

4) Wipe the Christmas decors with slightly damp cloth to remove dust. Wearing a mask while cleaning is advisable.

5) Store your Christmas decor items in zip lock bags. This will minimize dust from accumulating and triggering your sneeze the next time you use it.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Winter Action Plan For Allergies

Winter is a time when you spend more time indoors. While the pollen allergy season maybe over, those with allergy to dust mite, mold and pet dander will need to be more cautious as spending more time indoor means greater exposure to these allergens as well.

Winter Action Plan For Allergies

1) Get rid of carpets, as they trap allergens like pet dander and dust mite. But if you must keep it, then see (2).

2) Vacuum more often with a HEPA vacuum cleaner. Here's a guide on choosing a good vacuum cleaner.

3) Don't sleep in the same room as your pets. These pet allergy tips should come in handy.

4) Use anti dust mite bedding covers. Here's a guide on how to choose a good anti dust mite bedding cover.

5) Clean the filters of your air-conditioning and heater.

6) Keep indoor humidity level between 30%-40% with a dehumidifier. The low humidity will help prevent the growth of dust mites and mold

7) Watch out for mold growing in the house, especially in the basement. You can either try these DIY methods for treating mold naturally or these allergen control products.

8) Remove excess humidity in the bathroom by turning on the exhaust fan after showering.

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Allergy Myths - Part 2

This is a continuation from Part 1. Are any of these myths familiar to you?

#4 Myth: Relocating to another region can cure allergies

Reality: Unfortunately, this is not true. Moving away from the source of allergen may temporarily relieve your allergies. But it is a fact that allergic people are prone to developing new allergies because our immune system is not functioning right. So it is common that the allergic symptoms reappear within a few years after exposure to new plants, or other sources of allergen.

I have had first hand experience with this when I relocated to a new country for half a year. My allergy went away and I have never felt better with my nose and breathing. Pure bliss! When I returned to my home country, my allergy came back right away. At that time, I wished I could relocate permanently! But upon checking with my GP (general practitioner), he confirmed that this relief is temporary and had I stayed on longer, its very likely I would develop other new allergies.

 # 5 Myth: You can't develop allergy to animals if you don't own pets

Reality: Animal allergens can be carried on clothes and shoes. This may sensitize people who do not have pets themselves and cause allergic symptoms in sensitized people.

Well, I should know this better. I have never owned a pet in my life, but yet surprisingly, my skin prick test showed that besides being allergic to dust mite, I am also allergic to dogs.

#6 Myth: Flowers are a cause of allergy
Reality: It is unlikely that flowers are the cause of your constant sneezing and itchy eyes. This is because allergies are primarily caused by wind-pollinated plants whereas flowers are generally reproduced by insects. Flower pollen are larger than tree pollen which are spread through the air, and then breathed in by humans, causing those nasty allergic symptoms.

Dr. James Li, Chair of the allergy division at Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn said that this misconception arises as flowers have pollen that is highly visible. But these flower pollen does not become airborne and there are not high concentrations of it in the air, like the pollens from trees, grasses and ragweed.

Monday, 9 December 2013

9 Habits That Make Allergies Worse

Here are some habits which allergy sufferers may not be aware that are harming them in the long run. Take a look - are you practising any of these habits? If you are, its time to make a change in the coming new year!
1. Stressful work deadlines
Stress hormones may stimulate the production of IgE, blood proteins that cause allergic reactions, says study author Janice Kiecolt-Glaser, PhD. If you’re under stress, get enough sleep. A sleep deficit can worsen both allergy symptoms and stress, she says.
Indeed, I noticed this pattern for myself. Whenever I lack sleep, my allergy will flare up.
2. Alcohol
Alcohol can raise the risk of perennial allergic rhinitis by 3% for every additional alcoholic beverage consumed each week, Danish researchers found. One potential reason: Bacteria and yeast in the alcohol produce histamines, chemicals that cause tell tale allergy symptoms like stuffy nose and itchy eyes. Avoid alcohol when your symptoms are acting up, says Richard F. Lockey, MD, director of the division of allergy and immunology at the University of South Florida College of Medicine.
This is not a big problem for me as I'm not a heavy drinker. I only drink on some occasions and do not consume a lot of it.
3. Waiting too long to take medicine
Medications that block histamines work best before you’re even exposed to allergens, says allergist James Sublett, MD, a spokesperson for the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Start medication a couple of weeks before the season commences or before you’ll be around allergens.
4. A not-hot-enough washing machine
In a South Korean study, laundering cotton sheets at 140°F killed 100% of dust mites, while a warm 104°F wash destroyed just 6.5%.
Very hot water may damage the bedding sheets for some, so I highly recommend using anti dust mite bedding cover instead. I am using them and they are a life-saver!
5. Houseplants that make you sneeze
More than 75% of hay fever sufferers are allergic to at least one common houseplant, found a Belgian study. Allergens in plant sap can diffuse into the air and set off your sniffling. Though any potted greens can be trouble, researchers found that ficus, yucca, ivy, palm, orchid, and fern varieties are most irritating to allergy-prone people.
Here's some tips on allergy-friendly gardening.
6. Skipping medication in the evening
One time not to forget your allergy med? Before bed—so the medication will be circulating in your bloodstream early the next day. Symptoms such as sneezing, weepy eyes, and runny nose peak in the morning, says Richard J. Martin, MD, chair of the department of medicine at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver.
I am allergic to dust mite, so I can't tell when I will get into contact with one and trigger my allergy, unlike seasonal allergy. If I have a very, very important event to attend to in the morning (when my allergy tends to be the worst) and no way I want to risk having my allergy act up, I will take the antihistamine just before sleep. Be careful which type of antihistamine you take before sleep though. Some may cause insomnia. Check out my experience here.
7. Water workouts in an indoor pool
Chlorine-filled lap lanes can wreak havoc on your system. Used to disinfect, chlorine is highly irritating to the skin, eyes, and respiratory tract, says Prevention advisor Andrew Weil, MD. And a recent study in the journal Pediatrics found that teens who log more than 100 hours in a chlorinated pool have a 3 to 7 times higher risk of developing hay fever, compared with swimmers who dunk in chlorine-free pools
Try outdoor pool where the gas is more readily dispersed and wear goggles to protect your eyes.

8. Smoking & being around friends who smoke
Cigarettes—with their numerous toxic chemicals and irritants—are nasty for everyone, but allergy sufferers may be especially sensitive, according to the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences. In fact, one Japanese study of teenage students found that more than 80% of those who came from homes where family members smoked heavily showed signs of nasal allergies.

I hate the smell of cigarette smoke! And I find it very inconsiderate of those who smoke in areas where they are not legally supposed to e.g inside the lift.

9. Showering in the morning only
If you’re prone to pollen allergies, slip off your shoes, throw your clothes in the hamper, and shower as soon as you get home to avoid dragging particles all over your home. That’s because hidden pollen particles can get trapped on your body, hair, clothes, and shoes—continuing to trigger symptoms after you’ve returned indoors.

Adapted from:


Monday, 2 December 2013

Why Do People With Allergies Feel Tired All The Time?

Do you suffer from allergic rhinitis and feel tired all the time? This is very common and is sometimes known as "allergy fatigue syndrome". There are a few contributing factors to this:

1) Drug Induced Sleepiness
Some medicine that you are taking for your hay fever or allergic rhinitis could cause drowsiness. Best to take these medicine at night before sleep, or check with your doctor for other non-drowsy alternatives. Check out what works for me here.

2) Fighting the Allergens
If your body is constantly in a mode of fighting allergens within your system, it is natural to feel drained out isn't it? As Dr Jacqueline Gerhart, a family physician practicing at UW Health's DeForest-Windsor Clinic, explained:

"When you have a cold or a sinus infection, there is actually a virus or a bacteria that your body is trying to fight. With allergies however, there usually isn’t a living virus or organism in your body that you have to “kill.” Even so, your immune system still gets revved up because it sees the allergen as “foreign material.” Just as your body sends certain immune cells to fight a sinus infection, it sends other immune cells to fight allergies. For example, for bacterial infections, your body may make more immune cells called neutrophils or lymphocytes. Whereas for allergies, your body may make more immune cells called mast cells or eosinophils."

3) Lack of Sleep & Poor Quality Sleep
When your allergic condition flares up, your sleep is most often affected as a congested nose, sneezing and post nasal drip makes sleeping uncomfortable. You get fragmented sleep as you wake up every now and then to blow your nose or clear your throat. Your blocked nasal passages could also lead to snoring, resulting in sleep apnea like symptoms, again leading to fatigue.

4) Lowered Immunity
As a result of lack of sleep and or poor quality sleep, overtime, your immunity is impaired and you will notice your allergies worsening and possibly more frequent flare up as your body is less able to fight the allergens. This is a vicious cycle which needs to be broken.

What Can You Do?
Avoidance is definitely the best step, but its not possible all the time. Here are some tips for the protecting yourself during the spring and autumn season. If you have hay fever or seasonal allergic rhinitis, take medicine early before the season starts. Doing acupuncture before the season starts will also bring you much relief.

If you suffer from dust mite allergy like me, please do yourself a favour by getting a good quality anti dust mite bedding cover. Your sleep at night will never be the same again! I shared my experience here.

Adjusting your diet, exercise and taking some natural antihistamine supplements like Quercetin  (which I've tried here) are also useful to allergy relief in the long run.

Finally, do see an allergist if your allergic condition is very severe and you also suffer from allergy induced asthma.