April 25, 2017
This spring we’ve been exploring how our allergies are affected by the air we breathe. Allergies are a common scapegoat this time of year--they’re usually at the center of blame for our congestion and scratchy throats. But how much do we really know about allergies, in the first place?
We skipped the guesswork and decided instead to turn to an allergies expert--Dr. Tania Elliott.
Dr. Elliott is board certified in Internal Medicine and Allergy/Immunology, and has been featured on Rachael Ray, The Doctors, and Dr. Oz for her expertise. We sat down with Dr. Elliott this past week to help us clear the air on our biggest allergy-related questions.
A: That you have to live with them, and they are just a pesky annoyance. This is not true for two reasons:
A: Outdoor allergies tend to be seasonal--tree pollen in the Spring; grass pollen in the Summer; weed pollen in the Fall. In the winter in Texas, there is a cedar tree that causes bad allergies. People call it "Cedar fever" (instead of hay fever).
Indoor allergies are our year round allergies. They tend to be worse in the winter because that's when we spend more time indoors.
A: Indoor allergies are always present. Also, we often bring outdoor allergies inside the home when we don't wash our clothes or our hair or our pets when we come indoors after a day outdoors.
A: The dust mite is the most common indoor allergy. Dust mites are microscopic organisms that feed off of house dust and the moisture in the air. In environments where the relative humidity of the home is >50%--and you have a lot of carpeting or upholstered furniture--dust mites will thrive.
A: Carpets, curtains, drapes, and upholstered furniture make a nice cozy environment for dust mites. Using air fresheners, aerosols, and lighting candles can trigger allergy symptoms as well.
Dr. Elliott: When renovating the home, opt for hardwood floors, blinds, and leather. Also, change your air filters in your heaters or air conditioners at least every 3 months, if not monthly.
A: Studies have shown that indoor air quality affects allergy and asthma symptoms. Particles in the air can be very irritating to the upper and lower respiratory tract, and act just like allergies--triggering asthma and nasal symptoms.
Thank you for all your insightful answers, Dr. Elliott!
Northern California was just plagued by record-breaking wildfires that covered over one million acres, destroying thousands of homes. As ash from the fires began to fill the sky, many nearby residents, including co-founder of Mother.ly, Jill Koziol, began to worry their families could also be affected by the unhealthy air spreading through the area.
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