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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September 2019

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Cost: $15

Where:
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415 Couch Drive
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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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More information

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Cost: Free and open to the community

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Telephone: 713-224-9115
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Cost: TBA

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Mike Fretz Event Center
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View map »


Telephone: 918-663-5820
Contact Name: Morgan Sikes
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More information

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Where:
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More information

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View map »


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More information

Show More...
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Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
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View map »


Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

More information

Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
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View map »


Telephone: (405) 236-3100
Website »

More information

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13th & Guthrie Ave
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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
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Contact Name: Tonya Boone
Website »

More information

Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
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View map »

More information

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View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
Website »

More information

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View map »


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Website »

More information

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Cost: 15-20

Where:
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110 E. 2nd St.
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View map »


Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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More information

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Cost: $75

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View map »


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Telephone: 918-928-2663
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

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ONEOK FIELD
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Telephone: 405-234-7095
Contact Name: Astrid Rodriguez
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Join us for the St. Jude Walk/Run during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month in September, to raise money for the kids of St. Jude, where families never receive a bill for anything. Let's end...

Cost: 5K - $20; 1 mile - $10; Ages 5 and under – Free

Where:
ONEOK Field
201 N Elgin Ave
Tulsa, OK, OK  74120
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Sponsor: St. Jude
Telephone: 915-841-9154
Contact Name: Adrian Ordonez
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Featuring more than seventy works by French and European masters such as Degas, Manet, Monet, Rousseau and Van Gogh, this exhibition celebrates Mr. and Mrs. Paul Mellon’s extraordinary gift...

Cost: $15

Where:
Oklahoma City Museum of Art
415 Couch Drive
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
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Telephone: (405) 236-3100
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Woodland Hills Mall is excited to host Beauty Week, which is a unique way for the people in Tulsa to experience all the beauty that Woodland Hills Mall has to offer.  Participating retailers...

Cost: Free and open to the community

Where:
Woodland Hills Mall
7021 S Memorial Dr.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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Telephone: 713-224-9115
Contact Name: Woodland Hills Mall

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Celebrate the vital role eastern Oklahoma plays in the amazing Monarch butterfly migration! Join us for great activities and presentations including educational activities and crafts, tagging and...

Cost: Free

Where:
Turkey Mountain
6850 S Elwood Ave
Tulsa, OK  74132
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Sponsor: river parks
Telephone: 918-596-2008
Contact Name: Ryan Howell
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The Home Remodeling Showcase is the premier showcase of newly remodeled homes in Tulsa and the surrounding areas.  Presented by the Remodelers Council of the Home Builders Association of Greater...

Cost: 10

Where:
Spread throughout Metro Tulsa
, OK


Sponsor: Pella Windows of Oklahoma
Telephone: 918-663-5820
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Experience the sites, sounds and smells of Greece!  The best lil stop in OPA!homa - just off route 66. Live music, dancing, kids zone, Greek food and drink, delectable baked goods, Greek...

Cost: Adults $5/Kids Free

Where:
13th & Guthrie Ave
1222 S. Guthrie Ave

Tulsa, OK  74119
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Sponsor: Tulsa Greek Festival
Telephone: 918-583-2082
Contact Name: Tonya Boone
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Living Arts of Tulsa will present a multi-media exhibit of Jave Yoshimoto’s work. Intractable Chasm examines the refugee crisis in Greece, experienced firsthand by Yoshimoto when he...

Cost: Free

Where:
Living Arts of Tulsa
307 East Reconciliation Way
Tulsa, OK  74120
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Cost: FREE

Where:
Central Park Community Center
1500 South Main Street
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-259-8437
Contact Name: Central Park Community Center

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Join us for our second annual Food Truck Frenzy on September 21, from 4-8 p.m., and taste a variety of delicious cuisines from food trucks located in our riverfront backyard. Families can enjoy...

Cost: Adults $17.95, Children 3yrs-12yrs $13.95 Military and Seniors(62+) $13.95

Where:
Oklahoma Aquarium
300 Aquarium Dr
Jenks, OK  74037
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Telephone: 918-528-1507
Contact Name: Liz Medrano
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Fundraising concert featuring popular Christian rock band Sanctus Real benefiting Circle of Care's three programs: state-wide foster care, transitional living for single mothers with children...

Cost: 20.00

Where:
Venue 68
6910 S. 101st E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74134
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Sponsor: Circle of Care
Telephone: 405-215-1400
Contact Name: Sarah Steffes
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Benefiting the Salvation Army Boys and Girls Club of Broken Arrow Cosplay contest and silent auction. Fan made 1966 Batmobile on display. Food provided by Charlies Chicken, Panera and drinks...

Cost: $10, 12 and under FREE

Where:
1400 W. Washington St.
Broken Arrow, OK  74012
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Telephone: 918-406-9341
Contact Name: Sean Henry
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Circle of Care and popular Christian Rock band Sanctus Real are teaming up on September 21, 2019, to raise funds for Circle of Care’s three nonprofit programs. Band member...

Cost: Tickets start at $20

Where:
Asbury United Methodist Church's Venue 68
6910 S. 101 E. Ave.
Tulsa, OK  74133
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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
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Get moved with Tulsa Ballet! Experience incredible works from the most in-demand choreographers in the world at Creations in Studio K. Tickets start at $25. Read all about the exciting pieces...

Cost: $25 - above

Where:
Tulsa Ballet - Studio K
1212 E 45th Place
Tulsa, OK  74105
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Sponsor: Tulsa Ballet
Contact Name: Dan Meagher
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography! "Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Young and old alike will love the cherished story of Alice and her friends performed through original and exciting dance choreography!"Project Alice" is based on Lewis Carroll's “Alice's...

Cost: 15-20

Where:
Tulsa Performing Arts Center
110 E. 2nd St.
Tulsa, OK  74103
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Sponsor: Portico Dance Theatre
Telephone: 918-321-0682
Contact Name: Linda Davis
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Whether you prefer Borg nanoprobes to Midichlorians, the Justice League to the Avengers, or Terminators to Daleks, don't let anyone force you into boldly going where no one has gone...

Cost: $8.00 ($4.00 for children under 12)

Where:
pH Community House
306 S Phoenix Ave
Tulsa, OK  74127
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Sponsor: Laughing Matter Improv
Contact Name: Jerry Henderson
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In our 4-week Beginning Fencing class, you'll learn about the history of Olympic fencing, the three fencing weapons – foil, saber and epee – and the general rules for each of the specific...

Cost: $75

Where:
Southminster Presbyterian Church Community Center
3500 S Peoria
Tulsa, OK  74106
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Sponsor: Tulsa Fencing Club
Telephone: 918-928-2663
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Where:
Veterans Park
1811 S Boulder Park Dr
Tulsa, OK
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Get wined and dined at the first annual Tulsa Beer & Wine Festival. Stroll through our landscape gardens and treat your taste buds to exquisite food pairings with local and national craft...

Cost: TBD

Where:
Gathering Place Great Lawn
2650 S. John Williams Way E.
Tulsa, OK  74114
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918 Day special events and deals

The city's annual celebration includes discounts at numerous local businesses as well as special events

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A Q&A with the singer/songwriter, who just released a new single: “Street Light.”

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Oklahoma's Best-Sellers: Sept. 8

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