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How to calm winter allergies

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Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014, 5:51 p.m.

As frigid temperatures and unusually snowy conditions over much of the nation continue to keep many Americans indoors, allergy expert Dr. Joan Lehach, from Montefiore Medical Center in New York, reminds us that staying inside gives us prolonged exposure to indoor allergens capable of triggering a variety of cold and flu-like symptoms.

Here are her tips for controlling your indoor allergy symptoms:

Mold inspection: The first step for controlling your allergy symptoms is to do a little inspection for mold inside the house. The most common places to find it are on shower curtains, wallpaper, carpets and the sink. Mold also grows in the drain, which can be cleaned with bleach and detergent.

Dry up dust mites: Keep your indoor humidity at 50 percent or lower. Higher humidity will breed dust mites.

Filter out animal dander: If you have a pet allergy, you probably are going to need to be on allergy medications until you can consult with an allergist and see if you want to be desensitized or not. Meanwhile, a small HEPA air purifier placed in each room will keep airborne dander from spreading throughout the house. Mice or other fur-bearing pests living under the house or in the attic must be searched for and removed.

Get symptom relief: A mixture of sinus-friendly Chinese herbs, like Rootology, can temporarily halt most allergy symptoms in less than 20 minutes. Rootology can also be used to control winter cold and flu symptoms.

Start an immune-building diet: Eliminate foods that are weakening your immune system, like processed and packaged foods, and start eating immune boosting, allergy fighting foods, like blackberries and blueberries. Also important are multivitamin supplements and digestive enzymes to help you access more of the nutrients in the food you consume.

Get sufficient sleep: Our immune system is very “sleep-driven”, and allergies are precipitated by weakened immunity.

Stay hydrated: When you become dehydrated you get dry nasal mucosa and can develop microscopic cracks in the nasal lining, making it easier for allergens to enter your bloodstream.

Use the “hot” setting: Wash your bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees) to properly neutralize allergens.

Wash your face and hands: Not only to maintain popularity with family, friends, and co-workers, but if there is dander, mold, or dust on your face or hands, chances are good that you will end up inhaling it.

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