Allergies and Flying

I’ve written before about allergies and travel.  But what about allergies and flying?  This was a great topic suggested by one of the blog readers.

“Peanut fares” and “flying for peanuts” turned Southwest Airlines from a regional carrier to a major national airline.  Even though their peanuts are iconic, they offer peanut-free flights.

If you have a nut allergy, it is imperative that you let the airline know when you book the flight.  This way, they can accommodate your need to be nut free and the other passengers’ desire for a snack.  I know nut allergy can be life-threatening, but I will admit, when Southwest announces that a flight will be nut-free I inwardly groan.  Pretzels are usually the substitute snack of choice and I despise pretzels.  But I digress.

Also, book your flight for early in the day as possible.  Because airlines turn around flights quickly on the ground, the plane isn’t really cleaned between flights as much as “tidied up”.  This means that peanut residue may linger from earlier flights.  The first flight in the morning will be the cleanest.  Even if you are on the first flight, be sure to have your Epi-Pen handy.

If you are concerned about the spread of viruses and bacteria due to recirculated air, the only mask that is going to protect you is an N95-type mask.

These are designed and manufactured to prevent the inhalation of particles as small as 0.1 microns.  This will protect against viruses and bacteria.  If you remember from the recent swine flu, bird flu, and SARS scares, these were the types of masks you saw people wearing in public.

As far as dust mites and pollens go, the bad news is that the seats and carpets of airplanes aren’t frequently cleaned to remove allergens.  This means that everyone that walks on the plane is bringing a small amount of pollen from the location they are leaving.

The good news is that dust mites aren’t found in large numbers on our clothing.  This means that you shouldn’t have high dust mite populations on your seat.  That is a good thing because it is hard to get liquid through security in your carry-on.

You could put 3 or 4 ounces of ADMS Anti Allergen Spray in a small bottle and spray it around your seat, but do you really want to waste that precious space in your one allowed quart bag of 4-ounce liquids?  Not me!  I’ll save that room for toothpaste and deodorant every time!

If you are having an allergy attack when you are flying, you need to pay close attention to your ears.  Sometimes allergy can lead to the Eustachian tubes being swollen.  It is important that this passage be clear when you experience changes in altitude.

It might be necessary to take a decongestant before your flight.  If so, remember to allow plenty of time for it to enter your bloodstream.  Speaking of medications, if you are like me and suffer from an occasional bout of motion sickness when flying, your allergies are in luck.  The active ingredient in Dramamine is very similar to the antihistamine found in Benadryl.

Don’t let your allergies keep you grounded…flying is not a problem if you are prepared!

Til Next Time

Dust Mite Covers – Frequently Asked Questions

We have been getting lots of calls and emails lately asking about our dust mite covers.  I thought I would use this post to review the different types of fabrics and what factors to consider in choosing one over the other.
To begin with, every zippered cover that we sell will protect you against dust mites and their feces as well as other common household allergens and irritants such as molds, pollen, cockroaches and animal dander.  When it comes to effectiveness, all of our covers are up to the job of protecting you.
Your fabric selection will factor in your own personal fabric preferences, budget constraints, and the need for water-proof protection.
Our fabrics break down into two categories: microweaves and membrane coated fabrics.  Microweaves are the most common type of barrier cloth sold.  The allergen protection is provided by the weave of the fabric. 
This type of fabric is referred to as “microweaves” because the average size of the space between the fibers used to weave the fabric (called to as the “mean pore size”) is so small that allergens can’t get through the fabric.
There are many benefits to microweave fabrics.  To begin with, they are thinner than the membrane style (which I will discuss later), and because they lack a plastic backing, they are much cooler to the sleeper.  This is important if you are a warm sleeper or suffer from night sweats. 
You don’t have to worry about the membrane separating from the fabric if you wash or dry at too high of a temperature and if the fabric is woven of all polyester or a polyester blend it will be very durable.  The major downsides to microweave fabrics is the expense (because it takes more fiber to weave a fabric this tightly the production cost is higher) and the loss of water-proof protection.
The most popular microweaves are the Pristine Luxury because it has the smallest pore size and the AllergyCare 100% Cotton because people just love the feel of cotton. 
Since the Pristine Luxury is all polyester, it can be more tightly woven and will stand up over the years better to hot water washing.  The AllergyCare 100% Cotton fabric is all cotton, it is very cool to the touch and will not make the sleeper hot at night.  The Pristine Luxury fabric is more expensive than the AllergyCare 100% Cotton fabric, so if you are on a tight budget that is a factor to consider.
We carry two all cotton fabrics, and people ask what is the big difference (besides the large price difference) between our regular 100% Cotton and our Certified Organic Cotton. 
The organic cotton has been certified, not only as to how it was processed but how it was grown.  No chemical pesticides or chemical fertilizers are used in the growth of organic cotton.  No chemical treatments are made to the fabric during processing. 
With our conventional cotton, we have no certification as to how the cotton was grown.  We do know however, that aside from bleaching it white, it has had no further chemical treatment.  This is important if you are trying to avoid resins and formaldehyde that are commonly found in bed linens.
And speaking of chemical treatments, some companies treat their fabrics with pesticides or antimicrobials.  No fabric you purchase from The Allergy Store has been treated with these toxic chemicals, so you can rest easy.
The membrane fabrics take a traditional fabric (either a stretch polyester knit or a 50/50 blend of cotton and polyester) and uses heat to fuse that fabric to a 1 mil thick urethane membrane.  It is the membrane that gives the fabric its waterproof and allergy-proof protection.  In addition, the membrane prevents bed bugs that are in the mattress from feeding through the cover.  This makes these covers perfect for saving a mattress during an active bed bug infestation.  The other major benefit to the membrane fabrics is primarily the cost.  Because they are made with traditional fabrics that receive an extra treatment, they are less expensive to purchase.  This is a big consideration when the budget is small.  One downside to membrane fabrics is that even though they are water vapor transmissive, they are still warmer to sleep on than a microweave.  The other downside is that you must be more careful with the washing of the coated fabrics.  Because the membrane is fused with heat, you cannot wash or dry the fabric at high temperatures or use strong detergents or bleaches as the membrane will be destroyed. However, as stated previously, if you have an active bed bug infestation, they are exactly what you need to protect you and loved ones from bites.
Speaking of bed bugs, we get lots of questions between bed bug covers and dust mite covers.  While any zippered cover is going to protect your mattress from getting bed bugs in it, only the coated fabrics will protect you from bites if the bugs are already there.  As an added bonus, our bed bug mattress covers have a tape strip that goes over the zipper for added protection.  Tapes are not necessary for dust mite protection, however some people feel “safer” if they have something over the zipper.  If you feel like you need to tape your zipper, please use the blue painter’s tape as it is easily removed and won’t leave a sticky residue on the fabric when it is time for washing.
The world of fabrics for dust mite and bed bug mattress covers can be confusing.  I hope that this information helps you to figure out what best suits your needs.
If you have any questions, you know you can always call Customer Service or drop us an email.
Til Next Time!

Do You Need An Allergy Mattress Cover in Winter?

I had what I thought was an odd question earlier this week.  A customer phoned and wanted to know if she should take her allergy proof mattress cover off her bed in the winter.  Perplexed at the question, I had a question for her, “why?”.
It turns out that she thought that if the temperatures were cold, the dust mites would not be a problem since they like warm temperatures. While it is true that dust mites like warm and moist spots (that is why they love your mattress and pillows) the cold isn’t going to get to them unless it is freezing.  I know it has been frigid in some areas these last few days, but even if it is freezing or below outside it isn’t that cold in your house. The bugs in your yard may disappear in winter, but dust mites are a year around problem.
You can keep your temperature at 68 to 72 degrees, but one of the warmest places in the house is going to be your bed when you are in it!  That means you are there as a personal warming device for the dust mites, making sure they don’t get chilly.  So it is crucial to keep your allergy mattress cover on your bed and pillow in winter as well as all other times of the year.
While you might want to take the cover off and wash it a few times a year, it is important that you promptly put it back on the mattress as soon as it is dry.   Once your mattress or pillow cover is zipped up, forget about it and let it get to work protecting you from dust mites and other common household allergens.
Winter, spring, summer or fall, you need your allergy mattress cover for dust mite protection.
Til Next Time!