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Bag or Bagless – Which Vacuum Is Better?

vacuum cleaner bagAfter upright or canister, the most important decision you make about your vacuum cleaner is whether it is bagless or uses a dustbag. In our opinion, if you have allergies, asthma or are concerned about the quality of your indoor air, the answer is simple: get a vacuum with a dustbag.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with bagless vacuums. The better ones do an excellent job of cleaning. But allergy and asthma sufferers will want to consider all the dust they will be exposed to when maintaining the bagless vacuum.  No matter which bagless vacuum cleaner you use, it still comes down to removing a container of dust and allergens and crud that you so carefully removed from your home, and dumping it into something so you can throw it away. Continue reading

Coping with Spring Allergies

pollenSpring is here (more or less) and with it comes hay fever allergies, aka seasonal allergic rhinitis. Hay fever’s sneezing, congestion and runny nose are similar to those of a cold. But where a  cold can last a few days to a couple of weeks, hay fever can go on for months. In fact, for many sufferers, once it starts in the spring, it doesn’t end until the first hard frost of winter.

Pollen is the culprit here, from trees, weeds and various grasses. Unfortunately, short of staying indoors with the windows closed tight and a constantly running air conditioner and air purifier, there’s not much sufferers can do to avoid pollen. Even if you don’t have trees or plants in or near your home, pollen grains will hitch a ride on the wind and find their way to you.

Mind the Pollen Count

The pollen count measures the concentration of all the pollen the air in a certain area at a specific time. The actual measure is grains of pollen per cubic meter of air collected over a 24-hour period. Local weather reports and any number of Web sites and apps can give you the number. While pollen counts will change throughout the day, they still can help decide when it may be better to stay inside.

Regardless of the count, as a general rule of thumb pollen counts are higher during the early morning hours. It’s best to avoid the outdoors between 5-10 a.m., saving your outdoor activities for late afternoon. Warm, breezy days also increase pollen counts, but rain washes the grains out of the air, so going out after a heavy rain can be a good choice.

Treating Pollen Allergies

If you’re going to treat your symptoms yourself, you probably shouldn’t without first seeing a physician. Especially if you’re just beginning to feel the effects of allergies or if those affects are severe, it’s a good idea to find out exactly what is causing the allergy before trying to treat it.

While it could be just pollen, you also could have developed allergies to mold or dust or even animals. These may not by themselves be very serious, but you also could be starting to develop asthma. Allergies can be really annoying, but asthma can be deadly if not treated properly. It’s not something  you want to take chances with.

If you decide to forego the trip to the doctor, you can treat hay fever yourself with any number of over-the-counter medications. Most popular have been antihistamines, but those can cause drowsiness. The ones that don’t work fine for many people, but have been said to be less effective for those with serious allergies. Nasal decongestants help with stuffiness, but they can have the opposite side effect, causing restlessness or nervousness .

Nasal corticosteroid sprays are considered more effective than antihistamines and decongestants, and don’t have their drowsiness/restlessness side effects. They don’t start working immediately, though, and have their own set of side effects to consider and watch out for before committing to long-term use. The choice also is limited if you want something without a prescription. Only one brand currently is available over the counter.

Treating Household Burns

Ever burn yourself on a hot iron or stove and rub butter on it? That’s what moms have done for years, and while it feels good, it can make things worse. According to the National Institutes of Health, rubbing butter on a burn can lead to infection. In fact, they even recommend against an ointment on a fresh burn for the same reason.

So what to do when you get that inevitable burn around the house? First, you need to know how bad the burn is. Burns are classified into three “degrees” of severity, determined by the size of the burn and how deep into the skin the damage goes. Continue reading

What to Do If You Get Frostbite

Frostbite in winter
So, it, it seems as if the winter weather/wind chill advisories just keep coming, and while this wind chill chart can help you be better prepared if you have to go out into dangerously cold weather, you still need to be watchful for the signs of frostbite.

Frostbite isn’t just a feeling you get when your nose or ears get really cold. It’s an actual injury caused by freezing that results in the loss of feeling and color in affected areas. Most often, the nose, ears, cheeks, chin, fingers or toes are affected, but any exposed area is at risk. Damage can be permanent, and severe cases of frostbite lead amputation. Continue reading

Hypothermia a Real Threat during Extreme Cold Weather

Hypothermia RisksWhile frostbite is a more common result of exposure to cold weather, hypothermia is a real concern, as well. A much more serious condition than frostbite, hypothermia results from the body losing heat faster than it can create it. The result is that body temperature drops to dangerous levels.

With prolonged exposure to the cold, the body’s stored energy will get used up and hypothermia, or abnormally low body temperature, sets in. When body temperature gets too low, the brain is affected and the victim is unable to think clearly or even move well. That makes hypothermia even more dangerous, since the person may not even know it’s happening and, therefore, can’t know to do anything about it. Continue reading

Treating Pain in Your Dog

treating-dog-painIf you’re like most people, you reach for aspirin, ibuprofen or some other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug, or NSAID, when you want to relieve pain. So it should be no surprise that NSAIDs also are the most commonly used pain reliever for dogs.

NSAIDs help control pain by relieving inflammation – the body’s response to irritation or injury – which is what makes them so effective for arthritis and other joint pain, as well as muscle aches and post-surgical pain. Continue reading

5 Ways to Keep Winter Allergies at Bay

winter allergyWinter can be just as hard on allergy sufferers as summer is. For many, it can be even worse. You can help reduce the suffering with these five tips:

1. Use HEPA filters in your furnace: Granted, you don’t get true HEPA filtration without a sealed system, but the additional filtration that HEPA provides traps as much as 30 times more allergens than a standard filter.

2. Regularly rinse and dry the water reservoir in your humidifiers. Quite often, people refill their humidifiers without emptying the old water. But the older the water, the more likely bacteria and mold are growing in it, and those critters are put into the air by the humidifier. This is true even when the old water is diluted with fresh water. A good rule of thumb is to empty and dry the reservoir every 10 days to two weeks. Continue reading