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  Health

“Aaah-choo!”

Albuquerque is one of the top fifty cities across the country to have the worst spring allergies

—Angie’s List

Allergy season is upon us and millions of Americans will battle the triggers that cause itchy eyes, runny noses, and asthma attacks. While people may think their homes offer a respite from pesky triggers like dust mites and mold—their fortress may be harboring more harm than they know.

Angie’s List recently asked some of its highly-rated physicians for tips on controlling indoor allergies and providing a healthier environment for the whole family.

“It’s amazing how many allergens lurk in even the cleanest home, but you can evict a lot of them with a good scrubbing, by changing flooring, or removing furnishings,” said Angie Hicks, founder of Angie’s List. “But if your allergies are severe, leave the cleaning to someone else and hire a professional cleaning company.”

Dust mites are a common trigger for many folks who suffer from allergies. If you’re not sure what bothers your respiratory system, consider getting tested by an allergist who can help pinpoint your troubles. According to a nationwide Angie’s List poll, eighty percent of respondents suffer from allergies or asthma and thirty-eight percent have tested for allergies to dust mites.

“The best plan of attack for spring cleaning is to make the bedroom your first priority because dust mites love bedding and pillows,” Hicks said. “It’s the room with the greatest number of dust mites and you spend the majority of your day there. Dust mites also love carpet, so if you have carpet in your bedroom, vacuum regularly.”

Angie’s List offers the following spring cleaning tips for allergy sufferers:

Wash your bedding weekly: Toss your sheets in water that’s at least 130 degrees and place dust-mite covers on mattresses and pillows.

Choose a solid surface: Replace carpet with a solid surface such as hardwood—this can eliminate ninety percent of dust mites. If you must have carpet, get low pile—not shag.

Clean up the mold: Mold is caused by moisture and can hide out in your bathroom, kitchen and basement. To avoid mold buildup, keep things as dry as possible and fix leaky plumbing. Consider paint or tile instead of wallpaper.

Ventilate your bathroom: It’s a good idea to keep the humidity in your home below fifty percent. Too much moisture can lead to mold, mildew, and dust mites. Run the bathroom fan to pull moisture from the air or open a window to help the air circulate.

Avoid upholstered furniture: Upholstered furniture traps allergens and is difficult to clean thoroughly. Instead, opt for leather, vinyl, wood, or furniture with removable slipcovers that can be laundered.

Control animal dander: Keep pets out of the bedroom and bathe them on a weekly basis.

Eliminate cockroaches: Cockroaches can trigger asthma symptoms. It’s best to hire a professional exterminator to get rid of the pesky pests. In the meantime, caulk all areas where the roaches can enter.

De-clutter: Get rid of excess knickknacks. The clutter just collects dust.

Check filters: Every month, check the filters on your air conditioner, furnace, and dehumidifiers. If they are dirty, replace them.


Healthy Geezer

The Healthy Geezer

—Fred Cicetti

Q: At the recreation center in my development, I overheard some women talking about “low vision.” Is that something like being near-sighted?

A: No, low vision is very different. It is a significant reduction in visual function that can’t be corrected by regular glasses, contact lenses, medicine, or surgery. Low vision can range from moderate impairment—such as tunnel vision or blind spots—to almost total blindness.

One out of every twenty people has low vision. About 135 million people around the world suffer from this impairment.

Irreversible vision loss is most common among people over age sixty-five. However, losing vision is not just part of getting older. Some normal changes occur as we get older. These changes usually don’t lead to low vision.

Low vision can be caused by diseases, disorders, and injuries that affect the eye. Many people with low vision have age-related macular degeneration, cataracts, or glaucoma. Almost forty-five percent of all cases of low vision are caused by age-related macular degeneration, which progressively destroys the central retina (macula) at the back of your eye. The retina is to your eye what film is to a camera.

If you think you may have low vision, consult an eye care professional who can tell the difference between normal changes in the aging eye and those caused by disease.

There are many signs that indicate possible vision loss. Under normal circumstances, do you have trouble recognizing faces of people you know? Is it difficult for you to read, sew, or match the color of your clothes? Do lights seem dimmer than they used to?

Vision changes like these could be early warning signs of eye disease. Usually, the earlier your problem is diagnosed, the better your chances are for successful treatment and maintaining your vision.

Regular eye exams should be part of your routine health care. However, if you think your vision has changed, you should see your eye care professional as soon as possible.

A specialist in low vision is an optometrist or ophthalmologist who is trained to evaluate vision. This professional can prescribe visual devices and teach people how to use them.

Devices and rehabilitation programs can help you adapt to vision loss. They may help you maintain your lifestyle.

These devices include: adjustable lighting; large-print publications; magnifying devices; closed-circuit televisions; electronic reading machines; computer systems with voice-recognition; telescopes; and telephones, clocks, and watches with large numbers.

Rehabilitation programs offer a wide range of services such as low-vision evaluations and special training to use adaptive devices. They also offer guidance for making changes in your home as well as group support from others with low vision.

 

     

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