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Archive for October, 2011

As the days grow shorter and temperatures drop, many people will be spending lots more time indoors. This also means that windows will remain shut, and for many people who suffer from allergies, this season can be cruel. While the amount of pollen in the air will drop significantly, there are other allergens to consider, such as dust, dust mites, chemicals in cleaning products and more. Since the windows will be shut there's nowhere for these particles to go, which will just aggravate allergy symptoms even more.

There are a number of ways to cut down on allergens in the home. Dust and pet dander can settle on every surface, which is why it is important to vacuum frequently and wash the bedding often. An air purifier can help filter out some of the circulating dust particles as well.

It can also be wise to invest in pillow covers and a mattress encasement. Dust mites love to settle in these places because they feed on human skin cells, and over time a mattress can double its weight from skin cells and dust mites. A mattress cover can create a protective barrier so allergy sufferers will be able to get a good night's sleep, free from sneezing and breathing trouble.

Halloween is right around the corner, and many families may be digging old costumes and decorations out of storage for the holiday or turning to thrift stores and consignment shops for the perfect disguise.

Old costumes that have been sitting in boxes or bags in storage for the past year will likely have accumulated plenty of dust, which can be bad news for the unsuspecting allergy sufferer. The last thing you want is for your kid to be trick-or-treating with a runny nose or itchy eyes because their dinosaur costume is full of dust and other allergens. Wash cloth costumes before wearing them in hot water to get rid of the dust and dust mites that are lurking in the fabric and wipe down any other accessories that may be dusty as well.

This advice can be used for secondhand costumes as well. Washing costumes and clothing that are purchased at thrift stores can reduce the amount of dust mites and it can eliminate the risk of bed bugs as well. The tiny insects are great at hiding, but they can't avoid the heat from a washer or dryer.

You can also use a mattress cover to create a protective barrier against accumulated particles that could trigger allergic reactions. This way, kids can get a good night's sleep after they get home from haunting the neighborhood. 

Bed bugs cannot fly or even jump, but they can travel fast, which is why an infestation in an apartment building can be dangerous. All it takes is one tenant to bring a bed bug into the building, and if it is not caught quickly, the bed bug infestation can wind up affecting multiple apartments.

The National Pest Management Association recently conducted a survey to find out just how prevalent bed bugs are these days, and they found out that 95 percent of surveyed pest management companies had dealt with an infestation in the past year. This is compared to 25 percent dealing with bed bugs before the year 2000.

If you discover bed bugs in your apartment, you need to notify the super or the landlord right away. Many people encounter the insects in their homes, but are too embarrassed to report them. However, the insects do not target certain people or homes, so their presence is not indicative of the state of an individual's home.

Roughly three quarters of the survey respondents believe that bed bugs are the most difficult pest to eradicate from a home, and just one survivor can reinfest an apartment. This is why it is important to use a mattress cover after an infestation treatment to ensure that any bed bugs that may have survived are trapped and cannot come out to feed. 

Fall will soon be over, much to the relief of people who are allergic to seasonal allergens such as ragweed and mold. The approach of winter means that the outside world will soon be safe for allergy sufferers, but spending time indoors can be even more problematic.

"The cold season can be especially difficult for those who suffer from a combination of indoor allergies and asthma," said Dr. Elizabeth Leef Jacobson, an allergy and immunology specialist at the Women's Health Center at the New York Presbyterian Hospital. "During the winter, families spend more time indoors, exposing them to irritants like dust mites, pet dander, smoke, household sprays and chemicals and gas fumes – any of which can make their lives miserable."

Holiday decorations can also be a source of allergies, according to Dr. David Resnick, the director of Dr. Jacobson's department at the hospital. They should be closely inspected for signs of mold when they're taken out of storage.

Other steps people can take to reduce allergens in their homes this winter include keeping humidity levels below 35 percent, which will discourage mold-growth, and vacuuming or sweeping frequently. This can reduce the amount of dust mites and other allergens that can settle in carpets and floorboards. Putting mattress covers on beds can also protect allergy sufferers from the particles that get trapped inside and can cause allergies to flare up and prevent healthy sleep.

Many pet owners are allergic to their furry friends, but choose to deal with their symptoms rather than live without their four-legged companions. In order to ease some of the allergy symptoms, one step pet owners can take is to ban their animals from the bedroom. It may be difficult to give up sharing the bed with Fluffy or Rover, but getting a good night's rest is important for your health.

If you've let your pets onto your bed in the past, you may want to invest in a mattress cover, such as those sold by Clean Rest, which will provide a protective barrier between you and the accumulated pet dander trapped in your bed.

This can also be useful for pet owners who cannot bear the thought of keeping their animals out of the bedroom. It will significantly reduce the amount of allergens in the room. Washing bedding regularly will remove pet dander, dust and other allergens that can accumulate quickly. You should also wash comforters, especially if your bed is the preferred spot for cat naps.

Bed bugs, tiny insects that feed on human blood and tend to make their homes in mattresses and other furniture, are extremely good at playing hide and seek. No matter how many times you call "olly olly oxen free," the pesky insects will never give up their hiding place. They prefer dark spaces, and their flat, 1/4 inch bodies allow them to disappear into nearly any crack or crevice.

Often times, bed bugs leave stains on mattresses, wood frames of box springs and other furniture, but if they designate sneaky enough spaces, these areas may go undetected until the furniture is examined extra carefully. They may be notorious for residing in beds, but the truth is that these critters can set up camp practically anywhere, even behind a wooden picture frame hanging on the wall. They prefer to choose locations where people spend time because humans are their main food source.

If you suspect that you may have bed bugs, but you can't find any hard evidence that they are the cause of your bug bites, you can take precautionary measures. Furniture covers can be put on mattresses, box springs, pillows and other furnishings. They create a sealed barrier through which bed bugs will not be able to escape, and should be left in place for at least a year as this is about how long bed bugs can survive without feeding.

Second-hand shopping is becoming more and more popular as the economy is still struggling to recover from the recession that began back in 2008. While this can be a great way to save money, it also comes with risks. Certain items, such as home goods and clothing, may be carrying bed bugs, which will set up camp in a home and cause problems.

Bed bugs, while they are not known to spread disease, feed on blood and often take up residence in mattresses and other furniture where they have a direct path to their human dinner. If they are brought into a home, a mattress encasement, such as those sold by Clean brands, can provide a protective barrier so people can rest without fear of being bitten in their sleep.

However, the best way to deal with bed bugs is to take precautionary steps to avoid bringing them into the home in the first place. This holds especially true when buying used goods. It is not necessary to avoid thrift stores and resale sites like Craigslist and eBay all together, but there are ways to reduce the risk of bringing bed bugs into your home.

Inspect furniture carefully for signs of bed bugs, even if it has no fabric. You should also wash clothes and fabrics in high temperatures to kill any bed bugs that may be lurking in the folds of the cloth.

Dust is one of the most common allergens, and its presence is unavoidable, but there's a lot you can do to lower the amount in your home. Dust comes from many different sources – human skin cells, pet dander, pollen and other outdoor elements that can be carried in through the air and on people when they enter a home – and it settles and accumulates on nearly every surface. By taking steps to remove dust from the home, people can lower their risk of allergy attacks.

Dusting and vacuuming at least once a week can significantly reduce the amount of dust in the home. However, vacuuming can kick a lot of dust particles into the air, especially when the bag is more than half-full. Emptying or changing vacuum bags when they begin to fill up will allow them to work more efficiently and pick more particles up.

For dust in the air, an air purifier can work wonders to remove a large amount of the particles that can cause sneezing, and difficulty breathing. Washing bedding at least once a week can also remove a lot of the particles that settle on the fabric from the air. Clean sheets and a mattress cover can reduce the amount of allergens in a bed so an individual can get a healthy, allergy-free night's rest.

It's no secret that dust can make just about anyone sneeze, but what many people don't know is what the unavoidable allergen is made of. Researchers at the University of Arizona, Tucson, decided to find out just what exactly can be found in average household dust, and they found that about 60 percent comes from outside – tracked in by people and pets and carried by the air. The remaining 40 percent of dust comes from a variety of things inside the home including dead skin cells from humans and pets, dust mites, fibers from clothing and other fabrics as well as cooking and cleaning products.

Approximately 70 percent of all allergy sufferers experience allergic reactions due to dust – such as sneezing, watery or itchy eyes and runny noses. The components of dust which trigger most allergic reactions include traces of dust mites, dogs, cats, cockroaches, mice, rats and mold. The researchers found that there were traceable amounts of at least three of these allergens in about 60 percent of homes that they surveyed.

While there is no way to completely remove all traces of dust permanently, steps can be taken to reduce the amount in a home, which can reduce allergies. Air filters can go a long way to remove particles from the air, and taking shoes off when you enter a home will reduce the amount of particles that are tracked inside. A mattress cover can protect allergy sufferers from the dust that lurks in their beds so they can get a good night's rest.

If you've never seen an actual bed bug scurry across your sheets, you may think that they are not present in your home, but there are other signs to watch for. Bed bugs prefer the dark, which is why it is difficult to catch one of the home invaders with your own eyes, but they tend to leave plenty of evidence behind.

One of the major signs that you've got bed bugs is bites. Do you wake up with unexplained bug bites that were not there when you went to sleep? This may be coincidental, as bed bugs are not the only creatures that can bite us in the night, so bites also do not necessarily mean that there is an infestation. Bed bug bites tend to appear in groups, often in straight lines. If you suspect that your bed may be infested, you can use a mattress cover to trap the pests inside and protect yourself from more bites. Since they can live for about a year without feeding, it is important to leave the mattress encasement in place for at least that long.

If you suspect that you have bed bugs, you can also inspect your mattress, box spring and headboard for signs of fecal spotting, which will appear as dark spots You can also look for shed bed bug skin and eggs, typically along the seams of mattresses and on the box spring frame.