Breathe easy

As summer approaches, allergy and asthma sufferers must adapt to seasonal changes.



Amy Bates, owner of Merry Maids, says there are several things you can do while cleaning to help reduce allergens in your home, including vacuuming blinds and curtains.

Allergy sufferers, you’re not alone. More than 50 million people suffer from allergies in the U.S., according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Many of those also suffer from asthma.

At Allergy Clinic of Tulsa, generally 75-80 percent of asthma patients also have nasal allergies. Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma and occurs when allergens trigger asthma symptoms. 

“Allergens cause an allergic reaction because the immune system responds by releasing a substance called immunoglobulin E (IgE),” says Dr. Ahmad Mourad with Allergy Clinic of Tulsa. “Too much IgE can trigger inflammation of the airways in your lungs, causing difficulty of breathing.”

 

What’s an allergen?

Allergens fall into two categories: seasonal and year-round. 

Seasonal allergens include tree pollens (spring), grass pollens (summer) and weed pollens (fall). Perennial allergens include dust mites, mold and animal dander.

“Allergens can enter the body by being inhaled, swallowed, touched or injected,” Mourad says. “Pollens, molds, dust mites, cockroaches and animal danders are typical inhaled allergens.”

Injection allergen examples include insect stings, while latex is a common skin allergen.    

“Simply put: The pollen (an allergen) triggers a complicated chain reaction that results in the release of histamine, which causes the sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, itchy throat and nasal congestion,” says Dr. W.P. Sawyer II with Eastern Oklahoma Ear, Nose and Throat.

Dr. W.P. Sawyer II

In addition to those symptoms, one might develop a rash or hives or feel ill or tired after coming into contact with an allergen.

Severe allergic reactions cause different symptoms, according to Mourad, including face, eye or tongue swelling, chest pain or tightness, wheezing, difficulty breathing and swallowing and dizziness.

“The most severe allergic reaction is called anaphylaxis,” which is a whole-body reaction, he says. “It is life-threatening and requires immediate medical attention.”

The most common anaphylactic reactions are to foods, insect stings, medications and latex. Symptoms include skin rash, nausea, vomiting, difficulty breathing and shock, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. 

Emergency treatment includes the use of an epinephrine auto-injector (EpiPen).

“Epinephrine is a ‘rescue drug’ because it opens the airways and raises blood pressure,” Mourad says. “If you witness someone with a severe reaction, you can help by laying the person flat on their back, elevating their legs and covering them with a blanket.”

 

Why allergies and asthma develop

Allergies sometimes develop or intensify due to exposure. For example, if you have never suffered from allergies but move to a new part of the country with more pollen present or new allergens, you could become susceptible.

Mild allergies can intensify as you get older if there are changes to the internal structure of your nose, such as if your nasal septum becomes deviated from an injury.

“Some other things impact your nasal health and those then impact your allergies and make it worse,” Sawyer says. “Your allergies themselves aren’t worse — just your nasal condition is worse because of these other things.” 

Genetics can play a part, as well as what Mourad calls the “hygiene hypothesis,” which suggests that highly clean environments can cause immune systems to overreact to ordinary things like pet dander and peanuts.

 

What’s asthma?

Asthma can be triggered by allergens or environmental, non-allergenic causes. Mourad says allergenic triggers include pollen, mold, dust mites, cockroaches, animals and occasionally food and chemicals. Non-allergenic triggers are air irritants such as smoke, air pollutants and, occasionally, strong emotional stress. 

When the body is having an asthma attack, airways become inflamed, and the muscles around the airways tighten.

“This makes it difficult for air to move in and out of the lungs, causing symptoms such as coughing, wheezing, shortness of breath and/or chest tightness,” Mourad says. “Mild episodes may last only a few minutes; more severe ones can last from hours to days.”

Mourad adds that mild asthma attacks can resolve on their own or can require medication like a quick-acting inhaler, and severe attacks can be shorted with the right treatment.

 

Treatment

For allergies, Sawyer suggests starting with an over-the-counter medication, which can minimize symptoms. 

“If they are just intermittent symptoms, the best thing to use is an antihistamine,” Sawyer says. “If they are more continuous symptoms, the best thing to use is a nasal steroid. You can use a combination of the two if you need to.”

If an over-the-counter treatment doesn’t help, see a doctor who can work with you to create an allergy treatment and management plan. 

There also are home therapies to try. Take a shower at night instead of in the morning. Sawyer says it will wash off the pollen you’ve collected in your hair during the day.

Saltwater nasal spray is another option. 

“Using a saltwater nasal spray several times a day physically removes pollens,” Sawyer says. “It’s also an natural decongestant, which seems to help.”

Once you know the cause of your allergy, try to avoid it. Mourad suggests staying in an air-conditioned environment during peak hay fever season and eliminating dust mites and animal dander from the home.

For asthma, work with your physician to track symptoms and adjust your medications, if needed. In some cases, physicians might suggest preventative medications to take regularly.

“These preventative medications treat the airway inflammation that causes asthma signs and symptoms and reduce the risk of asthma flare-ups,” Mourad says.

If you have an attack, stay calm and take prescribed medicines. Severe asthma attacks can first be treated with quick-acting medication, but Mourad also suggests going to the doctor or urgent care immediately. Also, see a doctor for same-day treatment if you continue to wheeze and feel breathless after a treatment.

 



Clean your home to fend off allergies and asthma

If you’re sneezing inside your home, allergy triggers might be present. Some of them might be coming inside the house with you.

 

Front door

“Sixty percent of household dust can be reduced by removing shoes before entering your home,” says Amy Bates, owner of Merry Maids. “Leaving your shoes outside is a really great way to minimize the dust, germs and everything else.”

If taking off shoes isn’t an option, another way to help reduce dust is to place dirt-hugging and dust-catching mats outside and inside the door, so it catches what’s coming in on your shoes or your pet’s feet.

 

Bedroom

Keeping the bedroom dust-free is important. “We spend 30 percent of our life in bed,” Bates says. “Many of us are allergic to dust and dust mites, and it can impact the quality of life and sleep. It isn’t easy to sleep with a stuffy nose or asthma.” Bates suggests avoiding under-the-bed storage. 

“If you do store things under the bed, make sure they’re tightly sealed containers you can roll out so you can dust off the tops and vacuum that area,” she says.

 

Bathroom

Keep in mind mold and mildew, which can be allergy triggers. Try running the bathroom exhaust fan for 15 minutes after a shower. 

“The exhaust fan is there to pull the humidity and moisture out of your bathroom, so it’ll help cut down on mold and mildew,” Bates says.

 

Pets

Grooming dogs regularly is important because they can bring pollen inside. 

“Keeping them properly groomed and brushed will help minimize what’s coming in,” Bates says. “Pets are often overlooked unless you’re allergic to them.”

 

Cleaning tips and tricks

There are other simple things you can do to help minimize allergens in the home (and workplace, too), according to Bates.

 

1. Change air filters regularly. A good rule of thumb is whether you can see light through it. If not, the filter needs to be replaced.

2. At home, wash bedding weekly in hot water, which will kill dust mites. If your pillows are washable, wash those, too.

3. Vacuum your mattress while your sheets are in the wash. Bates suggests using a special spray to kill bacteria and freshen your mattress. Mix one to two cups of vodka or rubbing alcohol with an essential oil like eucalyptus or clove (20-30 drops). This can be used on a traditional or foam mattress. Now spray away! Additionally, you can use baking soda to freshen up foam mattresses, but you must vacuum it up after. She emphasizes that you should only mist — and never soak — either kind of mattress.

4. Don’t forget your ceiling fan. Wrap a pillowcase around the blades to catch the dust. If your fan is very dusty, put the pillowcase on the blade and wipe, collecting the dust in the pillowcase. Bates says this is a much cleaner technique than dusting. Make sure to take the pillowcase outside to shake out the dust, and then launder it as usual, using hot water. Or use a feather duster on the blades before you vacuum. 

5. Don’t neglect windowsills, blinds and lampshades.

6. Change your vacuum bag outside regularly and consider a HEPA filtration vacuum. When vacuuming, occasionally flip back your area rug and vacuum its underside. 

7. Vacuum upholstery, and use a dust mop under your furniture if you have hardwood floors.

 

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View map »

More information

Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

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34th Chelsea International Fine Art Competition—Opens on February 5th, 2019   Agora Gallery is pleased to invite artists from across the globe to enter the 34th Annual Chelsea...

Cost: $45 entry fee for up to 5 images ($5 for each additional image)

Where:
Agora Gallery
530 W 25th St.
New York, NY  10001
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Sponsor: Agora Gallery
Telephone: +1 212-226-4151
Contact Name: Carolina Carilo
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Winter's Grace Publishing, of northeast Oklahoma, is holding its inaugural Dead of Winter Flash Fiction Contest. It opened January 1 and it closes February 28. It's open to all creative writers...

Cost: $15 per story

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Winter's Grace Publishing
Telephone: 918-852-6311
Contact Name: C.D. Smart
Website »

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Sweets & Cream will be reopening Friday, February 22 at 3PM! Come on by for a $1.99 ice cream cookie sandwich and give a small donation to the Tips for Charity effort to help support our local...

Cost: FREE

Where:
Sweets & Cream
1114 S Yale Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74112
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Sponsor: Sweets & Cream
Telephone: 918-633-3182
Contact Name: Erik Collins
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5:00-6:00 Nature & Madness is the contemplative indie-folk project of Ryan Pickop. Ryan's work is rooted in Americana, rooted in the Earth. Challenging without being confrontational, we are offered...

Cost: Free

Where:
Heirloom Rustic Ales
Tulsa, OK


Sponsor: Heirloom Rustic Ales

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Solo performance. Originally from the OKC area, Adrienne Gilley is a vocalist, guitar player, songwriter. Drawing from co-writers and influential mentors and supporters in the Tulsa music scene,...

Cost: Tipping encouraged

Where:
The Colony
2809 S. Harvard
Tulsa, OK  74114
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Sample various whiskey, have dinner and hear some fabulous music! 

Cost: 150.00

Where:
Studio 308
308 S. Lansing Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Sponsor: Lindsey House
Telephone: 918-933-5222
Contact Name: Diana Denny
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JAKE OWEN Multiple chart-topping singer/songwriter Jake Owen’s new single “Down To The Honkytonk” is rapidly climbing the Billboard Country Airplay charts. With seven #1 songs to...

Cost: $50, $75, $100

Where:
Osage Casino
Tulsa, OK

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Sunday in the Park with George follows painter Georges Seurat in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Consumed...

Cost: $25.00 for adults, $22.50 for students & seniors with ID

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
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Join us for the 59th Annual Book Fair! Saturday, February 23, 2019 8:00 am–3:00 pm Holland Hall Primary School Gym Open to the public. Tickets $1, 18 and under free. No RSVP required,...

Cost: $1

Where:
Holland Hall Primary School
5666 E. 81 St.
Tulsa, OK  74137
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Sponsor: Holland Hall
Telephone: 918-481-1111
Contact Name: Heather Brasel
Website »

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The Orbit Initiative, produced by The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust, resumes its FREE community satellite adventures at seven local community centers this Saturday, January 12th, and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Various
Various
Tulsa, OK  Various
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Sponsor: The Tulsa Performing Arts Center and Trust
Telephone: 918-596-7119
Contact Name: Jeremy Stevens
Website »

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As Lakota artist Oscar Howe wrote in 1958, “There is much more to Indian art than pretty, stylized pictures.” This exhibition highlights this depth and the 20th century American masters who...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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More information

Do you and your pup have "cabin fever"? Come out to the Botanic Garden during our "Dog Days of Winter" - Fridays and Saturdays during January and February only when four-legged...

Cost: Free for Garden members & their dogs. Admission + $4 per dog for non-members.

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Drive
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles — both “over there” and on the home front — in helping the Allies win World War I. The American Expeditionary Force (AEF)...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Few animals conjure the power and symbolic presence of the North American bison. Whether painted on a tipi or an artist’s canvas, minted on a nickel, or seen grazing in Yellowstone National Park,...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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The Museum’s Dickinson Research Center is home to more than 700,000 photographs, 44,000 books, and perhaps unexpectedly, at least 1,000 horses. Meet some of the herd in Horseplay, the new...

Cost: $12.50 adult entry

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 NE 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
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Pain Management Class Non-medical Treatments for Pain Non-medical treatments may be used to treat chronic pain, along with pain medicines. They might also be used alone for mild pain or...

Cost: Free and Open to the Public

Where:
Glenpool Library
730 E. 141st Street
Glenpool, OK  74033
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Sponsor: Success Skills
Telephone: 405-401-3519
Contact Name: Ron Watkins

More information

34th Chelsea International Fine Art Competition—Opens on February 5th, 2019   Agora Gallery is pleased to invite artists from across the globe to enter the 34th Annual Chelsea...

Cost: $45 entry fee for up to 5 images ($5 for each additional image)

Where:
Agora Gallery
530 W 25th St.
New York, NY  10001
View map »


Sponsor: Agora Gallery
Telephone: +1 212-226-4151
Contact Name: Carolina Carilo
Website »

More information

Winter's Grace Publishing, of northeast Oklahoma, is holding its inaugural Dead of Winter Flash Fiction Contest. It opened January 1 and it closes February 28. It's open to all creative writers...

Cost: $15 per story

Where:
, OK


Sponsor: Winter's Grace Publishing
Telephone: 918-852-6311
Contact Name: C.D. Smart
Website »

More information

Youth members of the six area Boys & Girls Clubs compete for college scholarships in the Annual Youth of the Year competition. The winners are announced at this banquet. Volunteers making a...

Cost: $75

Where:
ORU Global Learning Center
7777 S Lewis Ave
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: The Salvation Army
Telephone: 918-587-7801
Contact Name: Samantha Knappen
Website »

More information

Cocktails, dinner and program with live and silent auctions followed by a Casino and dancing.

Cost: $200 per person, sponsorships available

Where:
The Mayo Hotel
115 W. 5th Street
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Tulsa CASA, Inc.
Telephone: 918-584-2272
Contact Name: Paula McKay
Website »

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Dancing, cocktails, Cajun and jazz...all of the goodies that Mardi Gras has!  Come join New Hope Oklahoma in a night of Mardi Gras fun!  New Hope Oklahoma strives to end generational...

Cost: TBD

Where:
The Bond
608 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Dancing, cocktails, Cajun and jazz...all of the goodies that Mardi Gras has!  Come join New Hope Oklahoma in a night of Mardi Gras fun! New Hope Oklahoma strives to end generational incarceration,...

Cost: TBD

Where:
The Bond Event Center
608 E 3rd St
Tulsa, OK  74120
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More information

Cocktails, dinner and program;  silent and live auctions followed by a Casino and dancing.

Cost: $200 per person, sponsorships available

Where:
The Mayo Hotel
115 W. 5th Street
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa CASA, Inc.
Telephone: 918-584-2272
Contact Name: Paula McKay
Website »

More information

Support youth leaders emerging from Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa. Each candidate is competing for higher education scholarships. Our goal is for youth leader to be a winner and advance with...

Cost: $50 Individual Tickets and Sponsor Levels

Where:
Global Learning Center at ORU
7777 S Lewis Avenue
Tulsa, OK  74171
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Sponsor: The Salvation Army Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Tulsa
Telephone: 918-587-7801
Contact Name: Samantha Knappen
Website »

More information

America’s LARGEST interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa Broken Arrow! At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: 59.95

Where:
Hilton Garden Inn Tulsa- Broken Arrow
420 W Albany St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 866-496-0535
Contact Name: The Dinner Detective
Website »

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6-10:30 p.m. Southern Hills Country Club, 2636 E. 61st Street. The 2019 Lunar New Year Gala at Southern Hills Country Club will be an elegant evening of candlelight, fine dining, children’s party...

Cost: $150, individual tickets; $1,000-$25,000, sponsorships.

Where:
Southern Hills Country Club
2636 E. 61st Street
Tulsa, OK  74136
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Sponsor: Dillon International
Telephone: 918-748-5613
Contact Name: Marcia Graham
Website »

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COOKING UP COMPASSION FACT SHEET ABOUT THE EVENT:  Long time donors Margo and Kent Dunbar are Honorary Chairs for the event. Now in its fourteenth year, Cooking Up Compassion raises funds for the...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Ballroom at the Cox Business Center
3rd & Houston
Tulsa
Tulsa, OK  74135
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Sponsor: Catholic Charities
Telephone: 918-508-7115
Contact Name: Jennifer Allen
Website »

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Winterset is an annual formal event of the Osteopathic Founders Foundation which brings together the osteopathic profession and their community partners to benefit projects which improve the health...

Cost: $300

Where:
Hyatt Regency Tulsa
100 E 2nd St
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Osteopathic Founders Foundation
Telephone: 918-551-7300
Contact Name: Michele Caine
Website »

More information

Sunday in the Park with George follows painter Georges Seurat in the months leading up to the completion of his most famous painting, "A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte." Consumed...

Cost: $25.00 for adults, $22.50 for students & seniors with ID

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
View map »


Sponsor: American Theatre Company
Telephone: (918) 747-9494
Contact Name: Meghan Hurley
Website »

More information

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TULtalk


Art film meets dance at Oklahoma Dance Film Festival

This year's program features more than 20 films from around the world, presented on Sunday at the Central Library.

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2.4: #KnopeLife — Anna America

Anna America took the helm at Tulsa’s Parks and Recreation department in the fall of 2018, but she is certainly no stranger to life in the public eye.

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7 strategies to help you make the A-LIST

The competition is tough for small businesses on our annual readers' choice survey, but a few smart strategies can help you get ahead.

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“Sunday in the Park” is no walk in the park

American Theatre Company prepares for the Oklahoma premiere of the very technically challenging “Sunday in the Park with George,” Feb. 15-24

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2.3: Get that “Woo!” — Tom Basler

A conversation with dueling piano phenom Tom Basler about his many reinventions, both personal and professional.

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