Respiratory Allergies

Respiratory Allergies

Dust, mold and pet dander are common triggers for allergies that affect the respiratory system, causing coughing, sneezing, congestion, sinus pressure and difficulty breathing. A cleaning routine that involves bleach and regularly vacuuming carpets and furniture and washing bedding can reduce these irritants. If your symptoms are hard to control, or if the substance that bothers you can’t be avoided, antihistamines or allergy shots might be needed.

Recently Answered

  • 1 Answer
    A
    AClifford Bassett, MD, Allergy & Immunology, answered
    Plants with bright, showy flowers are better for people who have allergies. Their pollen is large and because they are pollinated by insects, the pollen is seldom airborne. Plants that cause allergies usually have flowers that are small and insignificant looking and have no color for attracting nectar.

    The following trees, shrubs, and plants have been found to be better for people with allergies:
    • Alyssum
    • Apple
    • Azalea
    • Begonia
    • Cacti
    • Cherry
    • Clematis
    • Columbine
    • Crocus
    • Daffodil
    • Dahlia
    • Daisy
    • Dogwood
    • Dusty Miller
    • Geranium
    • Hibiscus
    • Hyacinth
    • Hydrangea
    • Impatiens
    • Iris
    • Lilac
    • Lily
    • Magnolia
    • Narcissus
    • Pansy
    • Pear
    • Petunia
    • Phlox
    • Plum
    • Roses
    • Salvia
    • Snapdragon
    • Sunflower
    • Tulip
    • Verbana
    • Viburnum
    • Zinnia
  • 3 Answers
    A
    AClifford Bassett, MD, Allergy & Immunology, answered
    If you have pet allergies, consider the following proven survival tips:
    • Create an "allergy free" bedroom (where we spend about one third of each day).
    • Use a High-Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) air cleaner in the bedroom.
    • Purchase allergen mattress and pillow covers which may help to prevent pet hair brought into the bedroom from getting into the bedding.
    • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and/or a double-bag filter to better catch pet allergens.
    • Some studies indicate weekly bathing of a pet may substantially reduce the level of pet allergens in the fur (speak with your vet about any specific suggestions on best ways to do this).
    • Learn which prescription or over-the-counter (OTC) allergy medications are helpful if you have pet-allergic symptoms.
    • Allergy injections for pet allergies can be helpful in reducing symptoms if avoidance measures are not successful.
    • One study found that it's easier to transfer pet allergens from person-to-person when wearing wool rather than cotton.
    • Washable wall covering and wood and linoleum flooring are easier to clean and remove adherent pet allergens than other surfaces.
    • Ask a non-allergic friend or family member when animal grooming is required. It is best to do this on non-carpeted flooring.
    • Avoid the area around the cat's litter box if you suffer with cat allergies.
    • Wash your hands after handling a pet to keep from transferring the allergens to your eyes and nose.
    See All 3 Answers
  • 1 Answer
    A
    AClifford Bassett, MD, Allergy & Immunology, answered
    There is a myth that pet allergies are caused by animal hair! It is actually a protein found in pet skin/dander, saliva and urine that causes the allergy. Hairless dogs are still going to have at least some allergen.
  • 1 Answer
    A
    APhillip J. Landrigan, MD, Pediatrics, answered on behalf of The Mount Sinai Health System
    Wall-to-wall carpeting can generate lots of problems, from cradle to grave. New carpeting emits chemicals, such as formaldehyde, that are respiratory irritants. As new carpeting ages, it collects dust, which can trigger allergies and asthma. The inevitable coffee and juice spills encourage mold to grow in the carpeting, which can cause everything from sneezing and eye irritation to shortness of breath. You might think that shampooing your carpet would eliminate those problems. But rug shampoos aren’t the answer because they contain toxic respiratory irritants. When shampooed carpet dries, the shampoo residue (containing the toxic irritants) becomes airborne. Once inhaled, the residue can cause shortness of breath and wheezing. In fact, studies by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health have shown that ingredients in rug shampoos cause respiratory irritation and allergy symptoms such as watering eyes.

    If you have wall-to-wall carpeting in your house, your best option is to replace all of it with machine-washable cotton or synthetic rugs. If you can replace only some of the wall-to-wall carpeting, start with your child’s room first.

    Of course, replacing the carpeting may not be an option for you. In that case, frequently vacuum the carpet and establish a “no food or drink” rule in rooms with carpet. Air out the house often, especially on those bright, dry days when the wind blows briskly through the house. And instead of using regular rug shampoos, try environmentally friendly products.
  • 2 Answers
    A
    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Dr. Oz - food aggravate allergies

    If you're allergic to tree pollen, your meals and snacks may be making your symptoms worse. In this video, allergy specialist and Dr. Oz Show guest Clifford Bassett tells Dr. Oz which foods can cause problems, and the simple steps that can keep you feeling fine.


    See All 2 Answers
  • 1 Answer
    A
    AMehmet Oz, MD, Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease), answered
    Dr. Oz - pollen exposure

    People with allergies often make their suffering worse, says allergy specialist and Dr. Oz Show guest Clifford Bassett. In this video, Dr. Bassett tells Dr. Oz some of the best moves to make to reduce your exposure to pollen -- and cut down on itching, sneezing and misery.


  • 1 Answer
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    AIntermountain Registered Dietitians, Nutrition & Dietetics, answered on behalf of Intermountain Healthcare
    If you test positive for dust mite allergy:

    • Wash bed linens and stuffed toys at least once a week in hot water to kill dust mites. The temperature of the water must be hotter than 130° to kill the  mites. (Everything on the bed should be washable with hot water -- sheets, pillowcases, any stuffed animals -- or have a special allergy cover.)

    • Put airtight covers around mattresses, box springs, pillows, and comforters.

    • If possible, replace wall-to-wall carpeting with solid surface flooring and washable throw rugs.

    • Regularly wipe furniture with a damp cloth each month during the winter season. Place filters over heater vents.

    • When possible, replace upholstered furniture with wood, leather, and vinyl furniture that can be easily wiped clean.

    • Keep indoor humidity to less than 50%. In dry areas of the West, this is usually easy to do (unless you have a swamp cooler or humidifier).
  • 2 Answers
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    Once you know your allergens, the best strategy is to avoid or reduce your exposure to them whenever possible.

    • If possible, remove the animal from your home, and avoid visiting family or friends with pets.

    • At a minimum, keep pets off of the bed and out of the bedroom.

    • Block heating vents, or place filters over them.

    • When possible, remove cloth-covered furniture from your home.

    • Replace carpets with solid surface flooring.

    • If you have a pet, consider a HEPA filter to clean the air in your home. (HEPA filters help pick up the small, fine dander that cats produce, though they may be less effective in picking up dander from dogs.)
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  • 1 Answer
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    ARobin Miller, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Dr. Robin Miller - pets and child allergies

    Pets are not only great companions, but they can also keep children from developing certain allergies. In this video, Dr. Robin Miller reveals what steps you can take to help keep your child allergy-free.


  • 3 Answers
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    ADawn Marcus, Neurology, answered
    Here are some tips on surviving spring pollen:
    Plan indoor play with Fido on days when pollen counts are
           particularly high -- perhaps at an indoor play area for dogs
           where you can both run around, toss a ball, and get a bit of
           exercise. Wait until mid-morning or afternoon to head outside. Most plants
           pollinate between 5 and 9 a.m., so early morning hours can
           be the worst. Take your walks before it gets windy, since winds can stir up
           pollen. After being out in heavy pollen, toss all of your clothes in the
           laundry and take a shower to wash off pollen you might
           otherwise bring into the house. Be especially sure to wash
           out your pollen-catching hair. Give Fido extra baths during high pollen times, since he can also
           bring pollen into your house. Consider wearing a mask when working outdoors during high pollen
           times -- such as when gardening or mowing. Plan a weekend getaway to the beach or shore to give yourself a
           pollen holiday. Change your bedding weekly and dust frequently. Keep windows in your house and car closed.
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