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5 Ways To Feel Better During Pollen Season

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This issue of News For A Healthier You offers 5 ways to avoid pollen.
  1. Keep windows and doors closed.
  2. Filter pollen out of indoor air.
  3. Get rid of pollen that has settled.
  4. Wash away pollen close to you.
  5. Wash pollen out of your nose and sinuses.
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5 Ways To Feel Better During Pollen Season

The bad news is that you can't get rid of the problem (pollen), but the good news is that you can alleviate the symptoms (sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, coughing). Your doctor may have prescribed allergy medication, suggested allergy shots, or recommended an over-the-counter medication. He/she may also have encouraged you to use "environmental controls". Maybe you were not sure what this meant, but didn't want to ask. Environmental controls are ways to help you avoid allergens that are all around you. In the same way that you'd avoid peanuts if you were allergic to them, avoiding airborne allergens can bring symptom relief... sometimes dramatically. Providing tools and information to help you control your environment is what we do at National Allergy. We want you to feel better.

1. Keep windows and doors closed.
As much as you would like to enjoy some of that fresh spring air after being cooped up all winter, don't open those windows unless you have a window filter over the opening. Here in Georgia this time of year it is tempting to open the windows and save money by not turning on the air conditioner. I learned that this was a false economy when my children were little because I spent a lot more money at the doctor's office than I would have with a little air conditioning. This advice holds true in the car, too. That wind blowing in your hair may feel wonderful, but then your hair will be full of pollen when you get home.

2. Filter pollen out of indoor air.
Room Air Purifiers - So now you are inside with the doors and windows closed. What about the pollen that was able to get inside? A room air purifier is very effective at removing airborne particles in your home. When buying one, be sure it has a true HEPA filter. It is best to put the air cleaner in the bedroom and let it run on high 24/7. Room air purifiers work by using a fan to pull air through the filter and push the clean air back in the room. In this way, the air in the whole room is circulated through the air purifier. As you know, fans make some noise. A lot of people find the noise soothing while they are sleeping. But if you are bothered by noise, you may want to run the air cleaner on high during times when you are away and turn it down to low or medium when you are in the room.

Tip: Be sure to check the filters and change them when they get dirty or you will be circulating pollen-laden air around the room. A good rule of thumb with pre-filters is to change them every 3 months. However, it is a good idea to check them more often especially when you first use the air purifier while it is establishing clean air in the room. Be careful when changing the filters. I always wear a mask for protection from particles that come off the filters no matter how careful I am. I also have a trash bag handy to put the filter in, and then I securely fasten the top of the bag.

Taking a look at our Air Cleaner Comparison Chart could be helpful if you are considering the purchase of a HEPA air purifier. The chart gives you the recommended room size for each unit, the price, and the necessary replacement filters. It includes Austin Air, Blueair, Honeywell, Hunter, IQAir, Whirlpool, and Vapor-Eze.

Furnace/AC Filter - Using an allergen type furnace filter also reduces the level of airborne particulates. There are two types: disposable and permanent. The disposable Filtrete Allergen Reduction Filters from 3M are available in four levels of filtration with a price for every budget. The new Elite 2200 has the highest filtration rating. The Elite 2200, Ultimate 1900, and Ultra 1500 are all in the Filtrete "best" category and capture over 90% of particles passing through them. The Micro Allergen 1000 is in the Filtrete "better" category and is the most economical of the ones we stock. Changing every three months when the season changes is a good habit to get into. Be careful when changing these also - a mask is recommended and have your trash bag ready.

Tip: All these Filtrete Filters are eligible for a $4 rebate offer from 3M when you buy 2 filters through July 31, 2010.

The other type of HVAC filter is called permanent because you simply clean it once a month and put it back in place. Rinsing is often all it takes, but if there is tough grime, use Nu-Stat Electrostatic Furnace Filter Cleaner. Electrostatic Permatron Filters use a unique Accumulator Chamber to provide efficient three-stage filtration that reduces indoor pollutants by up to 91% by weight. If you have a heat pump or if your furnace is over 10 years old, Permatron recommends the Permatron Easy Flow Filter. Permatron filters are available in custom sizes. If you need help measuring, call one of our experts Monday through Friday from 9 to 5:30 Eastern toll-free at 1.800.522.1448.

Tip: In order to keep the air flowing so both disposable and permanent filters give you optimum filtration, you can leave the fan on your HVAC system in the on position for a couple of weeks when you first install a high efficiency furnace filter, so you can "get a jump" on cleaning the air in your home. After that period of time, you should set the thermostat back to auto as usual.

DustChek Vent Filtration Kit - Another way to lower pollen and other airborne particulates in your home is to cover the heating/air conditioning vents. Even if you are using a furnace filter, air still has to travel through your duct work and that is where a vent filter helps. You may be amazed at how dirty it looks when you change it each month. A rolled vent kit is one piece that you can cut to fit your vents and is typically enough for 12 - a year's supply for one standard size vent. Or you can buy pre-cut covers in a pack of 6.

Tip: You should only cover 2 or 3 vents so as not to put a strain on your HVAC system, so start in the bedroom.


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3. Get rid of pollen that has settled.
Vacuuming - Since pollen settles and then is stirred up when you walk by, vacuuming with a HEPA vacuum cleaner can capture particulates on the floor. And the HEPA filter means the particles stay in the vacuum - they aren't released back into the air through the exhaust. If you are considering the purchase of a HEPA vacuum, our HEPA Vacuum Cleaner Comparison Chart gives helpful information including the weight of the machine, the type (bagged or bagless), the key feature, and our price.

Dusting - It is also important to dust often to remove pollen particles. The right tool for the job makes the chore easier. Check out the Blinds Duster, High Duster, Dust Grabbers, Eat My Dust Furniture Polish, Microfiber Dust Mop, and more.


4. Wash away pollen close to you.
Doing the laundry - Your clothes and bedding are also places sticky pollen particles will cling. If you are really suffering, you may not find it excessive to shower and wash your hair when you first get home. Take your clothes that were exposed to pollen all day and stick them right in the washing machine. You might not want to do that every time, but consider it when you have been outside in the pollen to watch the kids play sports or to work in the yard (which you know you shouldn't be doing anyway during pollen season).

On your pets - Even your pets are carrying pollen into your home. Bathing them more frequently and wiping them off when they come in from outdoors will help lower the pollen level indoors.

5. Wash pollen out of your nose and sinuses.
Irrigation of the nasal passages and sinus cavities removes excess mucous caused by irritation or infection, allowing the cilia to perform the natural motion that keeps mucous moving under normal conditions. Irrigation is especially beneficial to people who have chronic sinusitis (sinus infections that occur often or are long-lasting). However, anyone can feel relief and keep sinuses healthier by irrigation. There are two main methods of irrigation: gravity-based and positive pressure. In both, some sort of salt is added to water for the rinse. You can buy pre-mixed solution, solution packets to mix with water, or mix your own saline solution. Gravity-based irrigation allows water to flow naturally in one nostril and out the other nostril with the head tilted sideways. This is an ancient method from Indian ayurvedic medicine from which the name "neti" pot is derived. The SinuCleanse Neti Pot is an example of this method.

Positive pressure irrigation gives you more control over the water flow as you apply pressure in some method to send the water up into your nostril and through your sinuses to cleanse away mucous. And research has shown this method to work better. Products such as Breathe-Ease, Nasaline, Nasopure, SinuAir, SaltAire and SinuCleanse Squeeze fall into this category. Also in the positive pressure category are mechanized methods of irrigation such as the SinuPulse Elite and HydroPulse that send pulsing streams of water into your nose and sinuses in a motion that mimics the natural motion of the cilia. All of these positive pressure devices are effective. Which one you choose is really a matter of personal preference.

Tip: We do not recommend using a bulb syringe for nasal & sinus irrigation. Controlling the pressure is difficult and mold can easily grow in the bulb which is nearly impossible to clean.




Margie Bullock, Newsletter Editor
Closing Thoughts
Pollen is essential in nature, but it is really hard on people sensitive to it. In the spring and fall I see people all around with heavy, swollen eyes and runny noses who are absolutely miserable. If this description sounds like you, I hope some of the information in this newsletter will help you avoid pollen and feel better.


 
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