May
26
2015

You Won’t Believe What Your Family Is Breathing

And 5 things you can do to improve the air inside your home

You Won’t Believe What Your Family Is Breathing

You Won’t Believe What Your Family Is Breathing

Knock knock.
(Who’s there?)
Hatch.
(Hatch who?)
Bless you! Ugh, spring allergies are the worst.

It’s that time of year again: flowers are blooming, bees are buzzin’ and my entire family is going through wholesale-sized boxes of tissues every week, thanks to spring allergies.

Not only are people dealing with the dust houses collect over the winter, but once you open up the windows to bring in that beautiful, fresh spring air, you’re also letting all that pollen in. No wonder my family sounds like a sneeze symphony.



Thankfully, it’s not too difficult to improve your home’s air quality and relieve allergy and asthma symptoms. And even if you don’t suffer from allergies or asthma, poor air quality can lead to headaches, nausea, tiredness, and more. It’s worth ensuring the air you’re breathing is clean!

Here are five easy ways to improve your home’s air quality:

1. Beware of bathroom mold!

Check for black mold around windows and in showers and bathtubs and clean using this method. If you do notice mold, add 1 cup of borax to 2L of warm water, and wearing a mask, clean away any mold you find.

Always run bathroom fans for 20 minutes (or longer) after showers and baths to make sure all the humid, mold-friendly air is being sucked out (year-round, humidity levels in your home should be between 30-50%). In the summer months, a dehumidifier is a good way to cut down on humidity.

2. Put carpets at entrances

You’ve probably been told that carpets are an allergic person’s worst enemy, but that’s not actually the case. Carpets can keep allergens contained, and as long as you have a great vacuum cleaner, you’re golden. Be sure your guests and family members remove their shoes to prevent allergens from being traipsed through your house.

3. Get a really good vacuum cleaner

The Dyson Cinetic DC77 will blow your mind when you see how well it picks up dirt, debris, and dust on hard floors and carpeting. It’s certified allergy and asthma-friendly by the Asthma Society of Canada, so you know it rocks. I gave it a try and I’m not kidding when I say its power is impressive. I own an older model Dyson that I love almost as much as I love my kids, but this new model is even better.

When I tested it out, I had just vacuumed my main floor (I have a mix of hardwood, carpet and area rugs) the day before, and this is what happened when I used the Dyson Cinetic DC77:

Take a look at my living room. It looked clean, it felt clean...so I assumed it was clean.

Then I took the vacuum for a spin.



Wait? Can you see what I see? All the dust came from that small area of carpet I had just vacuumed the day before! Where did all that come from? Gross!

And this is what was collected from just my main floor. The one I had just cleaned. Or thought I had cleaned.

The Dyson Cinetic DC77 has a whole-machine HEPA filter, so it actually expels cleaner air. The whole machine is completed sealed, so when it sucks up all the nasty microscopic dust, allergens, and bacteria hanging around your floors, it stays in. And it not only sucks up every last allergen on your floors, but leaves air cleaner, too. What’s more, there are no filters to replace or clean.

4. Ditch toxic cleaners and air fresheners

All those things you’re spraying, plugging in, and using to clean are absolutely full of toxins. Clean up your cleaning routine and everyone will breathe easier. You can clean almost your entire home with just vinegar and baking soda and you can make this recipe for my all natural allergen reducer:

1 cup rubbing alcohol
10-15 drops of pure eucalyptus essential oil
10-15 drops of pure tea tree oil

Combine all ingredients in a spray bottle for easy use.

To deodorize carpets, do the following:

  1. Add a 2-3 drops of your favourite essential oil to 2 cups of baking soda.
  2. Sprinkle on carpets and leave for about 10 minutes.
  3. Vacuum!

5. Get an air purifier

Indoor air can be 100 times more polluted than outdoor air. Isn’t that incredible? Even just a small portable unit will make huge changes to air quality. You can move it from room to room to help keep airborne allergens and dust to a minimum. The added bonus for me was a reduction in my husband’s snoring, because his sinuses are no longer constantly irritated by allergens.

Do you have any more tips to share? I always love hearing new ideas!

May
13
2015

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month

Top 5 Ways You Can Help Spread Allergy Awareness

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month and a little support goes a long way!

May is Food Allergy Awareness Month, and even though I spend every single day spreading allergy awareness, this is the time of the year when it's kicked up a notch. Niagara Falls was bathed in blue and green lights on May 11 for allergy awareness, and many people wore teal on May 12. Me? I'll be sitting at my computer writing supportive emails back to all of you who write me every day asking for advice, help and support. Whether you're a family with food allergies or not, you know someone with them. It could be a child in your kid's class, it could be someone you work with, or a neighbour. We've all got a role to play in helping spread allergy awareness, understanding and empathy.

Here are five ways you can help, even if you don't have food allergies yourself:

EDUCATE

Help others understand that 5-6% of Canadian children (and 3-4% of Canadian adults) suffer from food allergies. Contact with an allergen can be fatal, and we rely on everyone to help us protect those with food allergies. Anaphylaxis Canada is a great resource for those with allergies, but also for educators and friends. Check out the amazing printable posters from FARE, and post them in classrooms and public spaces.

NOMINATE

Do you know someone who makes a difference in spreading allergy awareness? Nominate them for a special certificate of appreciation! Anaphylaxis Canada wants to thank everyone who helps spread awareness and education about food allergies, and this is a great way to say thanks!

SUPPORT

Do you wonder how you can possibly help make a difference in the lives of those with food allergies? HERE's how. Even just saying you're there for us is important. It's so disheartening to constantly hear negative comments about accommodating food allergies that just having a supportive friend can make all the difference. Join the Irritated by Allergies Facebook page to be kept in the loop about news, research and support for those with allergies!

DONATE

More than 2.5 million Canadians have food allergies -- that's a whole lot of your friends, you know that? Reach out to your place of work and see if they would be interested in making a corporate donation, or make a donation yourself. Funding research and support programs is key to helping those with food allergies!

BE KIND

Nobody wants food allergies. Nobody limits their food or lifestyle just because it's a fad. It's a very stressful life for all those involved in food allergies, and knowing we have friends out there who aren't allergic, but totally support us makes the sun shine brighter every day. 

Did you miss this? Allergy News: Scary Oral Food Challenges May Be Obsolete

May
04
2015

Asthma Cure Imminent

Drug to Cure Asthma Already Exists

Asthma Cure Imminent

The cure for asthma is on the very near horizon!

Asthmatics everywhere are (I'm sorry for this pun) breathing a sigh of relief knowing a cure is on the very near horizon. Every year, about 250 Canadians die from asthma, a point that was made very clear to me just last week when my five year-old son was hospitalized with a severe asthma attack. He has been formally diagnosed as asthmatic now, and the news of the discovery came just as we received his diagnosis. I hope this cure can help him, and my husband, too. Asthma is scary. It can be triggered suddenly by anything from allergies (dust mites, dust, animals, pollens, etc) to environmental pollution or exercise.

Researchers at Cardiff University and King's College London have identified the specific cells that cause airways to narrow, a discovery that changes everything for asthma sufferers. Previously, scientists knew only that narrowed airways (caused by inflammation) were the cause of asthma, but couldn't find the specific cause of that inflammation. Now, they've noticed calcium receptor cells that basically freak right out when detecting environmental changes. And what's even more exciting is that the drugs that can ease this reaction already exist.

RELATED: Could Your Home Be The Root Of Allergies and Asthma?

In Canada alone, more than 3 million people suffer from asthma, and of those, 60% do not have control over their disease. That's a scary thought. When triggers are so varied, and treatment limited, the potential of this discovery is immense. My son spent eight hours in an emergency room with doctors unsure of how to get his lungs more air - I can tell you that asthma is a tough thing to manage once it has been triggered. Stopping it before it happens would be amazing.



"Our findings are incredibly exciting," says Daniela Riccardi, a Cardiff University professor involved in the study. "If we can prove [existing] calcilytics are safe when administered directly to the lung in people, then in five years we could be in a position to treat patients and potentially stop asthma from happening in the first place." Calcilytics, when inhaled, stop all symptoms.

Clinical trials are to begin soon.