Public Transit – A challenge for someone with allergies and asthma

Bus

Many people commute to work, school and extra-curricular activities using public transit. And most of which use it on a daily basis as their primary transportation means. It helps us reduce our emissions, our carbon footprint and can have so many other benefits. The bus or metro is often a great time to catch up on some reading, relax and listen to music, or even look out the window and be inspired. Here in Victoria, commuting to work by bus means we are not having to pay extra for parking and can sit and relax on the ride to and from work. Now, there is a catch. Living with severe environmental allergies, asthma and chemical sensitivities, public transit has not always been an option for me. Over four years ago, I started immunotherapy treatments for cats and dogs. Many may think the reason for this would be to enable me to have a pet or have less allergies when I was in someones house who had a dog or cat. Actually, the treatments has served as a means for me to be in public spaces, including public transit.

For some time, If someone who had cat dander on their clothing sat next to me it used to trigger my asthma, and I ended up in the ER on a few occasions. Nowadays, with regular antihistamines and continued immunotherapy, I can take the bus on a regular basis, but it means that there are several mornings when I get to work and my asthma has flared up. And mornings where I have to take antihistamines which make me extremely drowsy and make it very hard to concentrate at work. On the bus, all my worst triggers are present. There is dust, pet dander on people’s clothing, smoke from people who smoke right before getting onto the bus, people with cigarette butts on the bus with them and lots of perfume, cologne, the strong body lotions and creams. For someone like me, with lots of allergies, it is quite something. And it’s a gamble. There is no way of knowing what triggers will be on the bus each day.

Do you or anyone you know take public transit and struggle with environmental allergies, asthma and/or chemical sensitivities? If so, please share your experiences below.

“Defining allergy fact from fiction”

I’ve been busy lately, and am trying to organize my routine, so I can still have time to post and share interesting articles and research I come across with you, my readers.

Nowadays, there is so much information on the internet that it can often feel like you need to sift through fact and fiction or myth and reality. I always say to go with what you hear straight from a board-certified allergist and/or physician. Who knows what the real source is on the internet. I know if I have questions, whether it be about contact skin reactions, food reactions, potential allergic reactions to medications, I go to my allergist, and if he’s not available, then I’ll run it by my physician. And then, once they’ve diagnosed, or explained it to me, yes, I may do an internet search to see if others are living with the same challenges, because it’s nice to not feel alone.

I hope the following article will help you see some fact on a few topics you or perhaps someone you know believed, and in the end is fiction.

Defining allergy fact from fiction” – Press Release from American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology

What was the biggest “Ah ha!” of this article, that you perhaps wish your friends or family read, so they would see that it is “just a myth”.

For me it is hands down #5; “I’m Allergic to Cats and Dogs, but Can Have a Hypoallergenic Breed”. So many people say “oh, it’s a poodle, you won’t be allergic”… actually, yes, I am.

A homemade $25 HEPA filter!

HEPA Filter

If you have environmental allergies, you will want to make sure your home is a safe place. Minimizing the triggers in your home is of utmost importance, and it is harder to minimize triggers in an office or in public transit. Having a controlled home environment means that you can come home at the end of the day, to a safe place. Where your body gets some down time and is not exposed to as many triggers. Air purifiers are very good at cleaning the air in your home from those smaller particles that could be triggering you.

HEPA filters can be expensive. They usually range between $100.00 and $800.00 and in some cases, for larger houses, you may need two.

The University of Michigan Health System has come up with a short, informative video that demonstrates how you can make your own homemade filtration unit for approximately $25. I fully intend on making one myself to see how it works!
Click here to view their video…

Another post I have written on dust allergies can be found here:
Dust here, there and everywhere

Shampoo, conditioner and body wash

Natural hair products

In following up to yesterdays’ post…

If you are anything like me, the products at the pharmacy or local grocery store just won’t cut it when it comes to shampoos, conditioners and body washes or bar soap. All the fragrance, perfumes and other scents always make me itchy or give me hives. Have you ever read the ingredients on your shampoo bottle? Or on the bar soap you use? If you haven’t I’d suggest having a read. All I can say is that most conditioners have wheat and/or soy.

Did you know that… another common ingredient you will find in most of the products on the market these days are parabens. Parabens are used as a preservative in many products, beauty products mainly. I’ve gotten hives from them in the past.

My scalp used to be itchy all the time! I switched to these natural products and now, I could never imagine trying a new product. They work great and I never feel itchy. If you are considering switching to a natural soap, be sure to read ingredients VERY diligently as you’ll notice that a lot of the different brands out there use soy or almond. When I first set out to find new hair and body products, I spent a lot of time reading and re-reading labels.

And when I go to the hair salon, I either bring my own products, or go prepared to have an itchy scalp for the next 24 to 48 hrs… Read an earlier post of mine; Time for a Haircut? about trips to the salon.

Tomorrow’s post will be about perfumes and makeup…

Things you don’t think about when you sign up for a gym membership…

gym

Having sensitivities and allergies to scents; perfumes, chemicals etc. can be challenging. If you deal with these, have you ever noticed how trips to the gym usually trigger allergies or asthma? My trip to the gym on monday night had to have been the worst yet in terms of triggers. The smell of deodorants and perfume was overwhelming! And I found myself taking antihistamines to make it through the session, chaperoning my athletes. What are your experiences? Have you noticed the same?

I am also very cautious using the cleaners at the gym, as I haven’t the slightest clue what they use. I wash my hands immediately after using the spray and cloth to clean off the machines. Anyone else do the same?

Back up and running with Immunotherapy for dust mites

Dust-Mite-Allergens

About a month ago I decided to take a break from the Immunotherapy. Both the new cat and dog sublingual treatment and the dust mites that are subcutaneous (by injection). I had been reacting more than ever before to the dust mites and thought perhaps my body needed a break for the injections. I had been on the sublingual treatment for cats and dogs for a month and the oral itching seemed to be getting worse. Benadryl seemed to be the only solution, which made me EXTREMELY drowsy. In the last week, I have been reacting to dust quite a bit more than usual, and I decided to resume the subcutaneous injections for dust mites.

The sublingual immunotherapy was new for me. I like the idea of being able to take it at home, as I would have less allergist/doctor appointments than the subcutaneous injections. It seemed more convenient and I wanted to give it a try. I know that this treatment has been successful for many, though I seem to react a little differently than most people to these types of things…

Is anyone else out there using the sublingual immunotherapy? If so, is it working out for you? I’ve been informed that the oral itching usually decreases with time. Is anyone past the oral itching stage? I’d like to start it up again however I’m not quite ready for all that oral itching and antihistamine drowsiness yet…

Detective work for a stuffy nose…

Snuffy

Friday afternoon we left for a weekend away and I had thought to pack one of my dust mite pillow covers and an extra pillow slip instead of bringing my pillow. Friday night I was so tired I fell asleep without putting the dust mite pillow cover and new slip on and had quite a night. I felt like the Snuffleupagus from Sesame Street! Being so tired I took some antihistamines, turned over and went back to sleep… Though I did go through an entire box of Kleenex!

I couldn’t figure out why my nose had been so stuffy. We opened the windows, aired out the cabin and I hoped for a better night’s sleep.

Just before bed, I remembered that I had packed the pillow cover and extra slip. How could I have forgotten! I zipped up the cover and that night I slept without a single sniffle. A simple cover made ALL the difference :)

Next time I sleep somewhere else I am going equipped with my own pillow, or at the very least, a dust mite cover and extra pillow slip. Do you ever get a stuffy nose when sleeping somewhere else? Does your pillow travel with you? I think I need a traveling pillow!