Allergy from Cedar
Many people actually move away from Central Texas to escape from the heavy load of pollen and mold allergens which are in the air year around in this area. Before doing anything this drastic, we would encourage you to make a strong effort to learn how to partially protect yourself from these allergens. In this allergy advice column, we will provide you with a number of things which you can do for yourself without professional help. This is not meant to take the place of the help which you will receive from an allergist and/or pharmacist.
The basic concept you should remember is that the more time you spend outdoors during an allergy season, the more problems you will have with your allergies. When you are able to be indoors, always leave the windows and doors shut. In the fall of the year when the weather tends to cool off, many people want to open the windows of their house in order to enjoy the fresh air. It is important to remember that there is no fresh air in Austin. There is no time year around that the air in Austin is completely free of allergens. If your house has a central air system, be sure that the filter in the system is a good filter that takes allergens out of the air. The fiberglass filter, which is the one most often used in a central air system, is there to protect the equipment such as the condenser coils. The fiberglass filter will not in any way remove pollen or mold from the air. Whether you have a central air system or not, individual room air cleaners will be a big help to you.
On this web site, we give you detailed instructions on how you can very easily make for yourself a cost-effective room air cleaner. This is a very effective unit, and it is much cheaper than any manufactured room air cleaner. When you come indoors, there will be pollen sticking to your clothes and in your hair. It will be very helpful to you to change to clothes that you only wear indoors. Also, washing your hair whenever you bathe is extremely helpful.
The easiest way to help yourself when you are having allergy problems is to take an antihistamine. There are many kinds of antihistamines, most of which do not require a prescription. The antihistamines that have been around for a long time are called first-generation antihistamines. These have been used for many years and are considered to be very safe. Some of the best-known ones are Benadryl, Dimetane, Chlor-Trimeton and Zyrtec-D. The main negative to these antihistamines is that they cause most people to be very sleepy. This characteristic is helped if the medicine is taken at bedtime. Being sleepy is very negative if it occurs while in school or at work, and it is extremely dangerous if it occurs when you are driving a car. Most people can use this medicine if they are careful about how they use it. Caffeine is very helpful in countering the sleepiness caused by antihistamine. Note also that children’s dosage is not the same as for adults.
A decongestant such as Sudafed opens up the nose, makes breathing easier, and reduces the amount of drainage from the nose. The decongestants tend to be a stimulant for many people, and when they take a combination of antihistamine and decongestant, the decongestant helps to counter the sedating characteristic of the antihistamine. If you can successfully use the first-generation antihistamines, they are much, much cheaper than the new second-generation antihistamines. The second-generation antihistamines are not sedating. They do not make you sleepy. The second-generation antihistamines that have been in use the longest are Allegra [generic is Fexofenadine], Claritin [generic is Loratadine], and Zyrtec [Cetirizine].. The brand version of these antihistamines require a prescription from a doctor and are much more expensive. Claritin now has just gone off prescription and can be bought without a prescription at most pharmacies. Since Loratdine does not require a prescription and is easily available, it is one of the first things you should try when you are having allergy problems. Generic Zyrtec can also be bought over-the-counter. Also, with either type of antihistamine, the decongestant is very helpful. Recently Over the Counter (OTC) Allegra became available. It offers fast, 24-hour relief of runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy, watery eyes -- without drowsiness. Go to Allegra for more info.
Zyrtec and Claritin have introduced products to help with itchy eye problems caused by cedar and other allergens. The drug in Claritin pills is loratadine, but Claritin Eye contains ketotifen, not loratadine. The drug in Zyrtec pills is cetirizine, but Zyrtec Itchy Eye Drops contains ketotifen fumarate, not cetirizine. You may find either product works well, but be aware the ingredients differ between pills and eye drops.
NasalCrom is an extremely helpful nonprescription medicine. It comes in the form of a nasal spray. Runny nose is a disagreeable symptom of both allergies and the common cold. NasalCrom reduces this symptom significantly in both instances.
Pollen Management in the Home
For readers who are suffering from cedar pollen allergies, we offer you a simple plan for making an effective, inexpensive room air cleaner. This concept is currently in use in homes in Austin. A room air cleaner will not help unless you keep doors and windows closed.
Room cleaners help people with allergies live in cleaner, healthier environments. By sleeping in a room with an air cleaner, you will breathe much cleaner air all night long. By having an air cleaner in your office or other rooms where you spend time, you will maximize your clean air intake and minimize the allergens you breathe. Even if you have a good filter on your central air conditioning system, a room air cleaner will increase the purity of the air you breathe.
You can assemble a very effective and inexpensive air cleaner by purchasing two items at any home improvement/hardware store.
- Buy a 20” square box fan (approx $20) and a 20” square 3M Filtrete filter (approx. $15).
- Place the filter behind the fan with Air Flow arrow pointing toward the fan.
- Attach the filter with adhesive or expanding straps (for instance, rubber bands).
- Turn the fan ON. It will begin to draw air through the filter. This flow of air results in cleaning the air of dust and pollen particles.
- Keep the fan ON at all times for maximum cleaning.
- Replace the filter after three months of usage. A washable, reusable filter can also be used; however, the initial cost will be more.
When placing the filter fan in a bedroom, be sure to leave space behind the unit for better air circulation. Place the filter fan in a spot that does not interfere with room traffic patterns. After the filter has been in place and attracted dust and pollen, be cautious not to disturb the unit causing release of dust and pollen particles. Moving the fan filter should be done with extra caution.
When it is time to change filters, make sure you wear a nose and mouth filter or have someone who does not suffer from allergies do the filter change. We recommend that the old, dirty filter be placed in an airtight garbage bag as quickly as possible. It is best to reduce disturbance of the old filter to avoid reintroduction of air born particles.
For anyone wanting a professional filter for Mountain Cedar Pollen allergies, an air purifer may be the answer. An air purifier MUST contain a deep-bed activated carbonfilter anda medical-grade HEPA filter. Say no to allergies! http://www.allerair.com/air-purifiers/air-purifiers-home-office-allergy.html.