NORWALK, Conn., April 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Allergies and asthma affect six times more Americans than cancer, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. As the fifth leading chronic disease, allergies, along with asthma, strike one out of every four Americans.
"There are many pro-active measures you can take to prevent or treat allergies and asthma," said Peggy Fleming, Olympic figure skating champion and HealthSaver spokesperson, "especially during spring, the main allergy season."
Pollen, mold, dust and other allergens cause allergies in some people and not others because the immune system of allergy sufferers identifies these substances as harmful. The immune system's defense results in symptoms such as congestion, sneezing and watery eyes.
"To take control of your allergies, prevent exposure to irritants in
your home and be sure to follow the advice of your physician," said Brad
Eggleston, vice president of HealthSaver. An active approach is the best
approach in the fight against allergies.
-- Seasonal allergies' most common symptom is also one of the most common
illnesses in America: allergic rhinitis. Hay fever, as it is otherwise
known, causes the nose and airways to become irritated upon exposure to
allergens. This results in a runny nose and bouts of sneezing, much
like a common cold.
-- Unlike the common cold, however, rhinitis does not cause a fever and
will last for a longer period of time, usually weeks or months. If
left untreated, rhinitis may also lead to more serious conditions, such
as insomnia and fatigue.
-- The first step in controlling allergic rhinitis is avoiding irritants.
To reduce moisture and mold irritants, use an air conditioner and
dehumidifier to dry the air in your home. Dust mites can also cause
allergic symptoms. Dust mites are attracted to animal dander, which
they feed upon. Animal dander is best avoided by keeping pets, such as
-- In severe allergy cases, your physician may recommend immunotherapy.
Studies show that this series of allergy shots can be successful for up
to 90 percent of patients with seasonal allergic rhinitis.
Asthma and Allergies
-- Allergic asthma is the most common form of asthma, and accounts for
one-quarter of all emergency room visits in the United States. Yet
asthma is also the third leading cause of preventable hospitalization.
-- Asthma, a chronic disease, is not to be ignored, because it can cause
permanent damage to the airways. Treatment involves continuous
management, including controlling adverse environmental factors and
taking medication as prescribed.
-- Most moderate to severe asthma sufferers also battle allergic rhinitis.
Controlling that complication may improve the asthma associated with
-- You can help avoid and decrease exposure to allergens by taking control
of the environment you live in, most especially your home. To improve
air quality, replace the window unit filters often and keep windows and
doors closed to prevent the entry of outdoor allergens.
-- Keep your home clean. It is best to vacuum at least once a week,
ideally by someone who does not suffer from allergies. Reorganize
areas so that they are not prone to the collection of dust and mold.
Also minimize the number of indoor plants, because the moisture in the
soil may lead to the growth of mold.
-- Bedroom mattresses tend to hold the most dust mites in the home. In
order to wash off such allergens that may have collected on your skin,
bathe each night before bedtime. Also, each week, wash your pillows,
sheets and blankets in water at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit. You can
best protect yourself from dust mites by encasing your pillows and
mattresses in zippered dust-proof covers.
-- Bathrooms are especially susceptible to moisture collection. Reduce
dampness with an exhaust fan and leave the room uncarpeted. Any leaky
faucets or pipes should be repaired as soon as possible. Frequently
check for mold and mildew in bathtubs, showers and sinks. To eliminate
mold, clean with a mixture of water and chlorine bleach.
-- Conditions just outside of the home can also encourage the collection
of allergens. Stay safe by eliminating piles of leaves and firewood.
These can serve as a welcome home for mold spores. This, along with
the mowing of the lawn and raking of the leaves, should be handled by
someone who does not suffer from allergies.
-- To reduce asthma symptoms, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma &
Immunology suggests freeing your home of allergy-inducing cockroaches.
To do so, adjust your kitchen so that it does not encourage the entry
of these insects. Keep lids on garbage containers and put pet food
dishes away if left in the open. To prevent the spread of crumbs, aim
to eat your meals in one particular area. An exterminator may also
help ensure that your home is insect-free.
-- Mucus prevents bacteria, pollen and dust from entering your lungs,
playing an important role in protecting you against allergens. The
sinus cavities are no longer able to clear out such substances when
allergies cause inflammation in the nasal sinuses.
-- Nearly 37 million Americans suffer from chronic sinusitis. To treat
blocked nasal passages and the "sinus headache" that occurs when
swollen tissue traps air and produces pressure, take measures to drain
your sinuses. Decongestant nasal sprays are often used, though the
U.S. Food and Drug Administration advises not to use these products for
more than three days because overuse can actually make symptoms worse.
If a bacterial infection is present, your physician may prescribe an
When to See Your Physician
-- If actions and precautions don't help your asthma and allergy symptoms,
visit your physician. A doctor can run tests to determine the cause
and severity of your condition.
-- Your physician may recommend a treatment plan that involves medications
such as antihistamines. Antihistamines relieve allergy symptoms by
neutralizing the effects of the chemical released by your immune system
during an allergic reaction.
-- If you are diagnosed with allergies or asthma, your physician may refer
you to a specialist. This allergist or immunologist may then suggest
immunotherapy. This treatment, much like a vaccine, will help your
body become less sensitive to allergens.
Don't let allergies and asthma control your life. Be consistent in the efforts to avoid allergens. Since allergies are a chronic disease, treatment should also be consistent. Such a pro-active approach is sure to bring relief.
HealthSaver, an emerging health care discount program, offers savings on prescriptions, vision care, complementary and alternative health care treatments, vitamins and supplements by mail and more than 1,500 fitness clubs nationwide, including select Bally Total Fitness, World Gym and Ladies Workout Express locations.
HealthSaver offers discounts of 20 percent on vision care, as well as discounts of 10 to 50 percent on prescriptions at participating pharmacies, 20 percent off complementary and alternative health care treatments and fitness club benefits. HealthSaver also offers discounts of 10 to 35 percent on dental care services at some 42,000 participating provider locations nationwide, including routine cleanings, X-rays, fillings, orthodontics, and even popular cosmetic dentistry procedures such as teeth whitening. Members can also save from 5 to 50 percent off vitamins and supplements by mail. Discounts are based upon reasonable and customary costs or manufacturers suggested retail price (MSRP) and are only available from participating providers. HealthSaver is not an insurance product or service. More information about HealthSaver is available online at http://www.healthsaver.com or toll free by calling 1-800-7HEALTH (1-800-743-2584). A one month trial membership in HealthSaver (http://www.healthsaver.com or 1-800-743-2584) costs $1 and can be canceled anytime during the trial period. Unless the member calls to cancel during the trial, membership will be extended automatically and billed to a credit card number at the $149.99 annual fee. Members may call toll free to cancel at any time and receive a refund of the unused portion of their current year's fee. HealthSaver is offered by Affinion Group, a leader in the membership, insurance and loyalty marketing businesses, providing products and services that touch the lives of millions of Americans.
About Affinion Group, Inc.
As a global leader with nearly 35 years of experience, Affinion Group (http://www.affinion.com) enhances the value of its partners' customer relationships by developing and marketing valuable loyalty, membership, checking account, insurance and other compelling products and services. Leveraging its expertise in product development and targeted marketing, Affinion helps generate significant incremental revenue for more than 5,300 affinity partners worldwide, including many of the largest and most respected companies in financial services, retail, travel, and Internet commerce. Based in Norwalk, Conn., the company has approximately 3,300 employees throughout the United States and in 10 countries across Europe. Affinion holds the prestigious ISO 27001 certification for the highest information security practices, is PCI compliant and Cybertrust certified.
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