Sleeping with Allergies

Allergies, Featured Article, Seasonal
on April 1, 2014
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Q: My allergies keep me up all night! How can I get the sleep I need?

A: If you have allergies, your bedroom needs to be as dust- and clutter- free as possible. In particular, focus on these areas:

Dust mite-proof your bed. Use zippered covers for your pillow, mattress and box springs. Wash and dry bedding on high heat, and swap feather pillows and down comforters for synthetic bedding.

Go blind(s)! Cover windows with wooden or plastic blinds rather than curtains—heavy draperies trap dust.

Kick Kitty out of the bedroom. Your pet may be a member of the family, but he needs his own sleeping space. To reduce pet dander, don’t allow cats and dogs to sleep on your bed, and relocate hamsters, guinea pigs and other furry creatures.

Lose the ceiling fan. Fans collect dust particles on their blades and then distribute them around the room.

Limit humidity. Dust mites thrive in humid environments. Maintain 50 percent humidity or less by using a dehumidifier and closing windows.

Try a HEPA filter. These small, portable units trap allergens. If you choose a different type of air purifier, make sure it is one that does not produce ozone, which worsens asthma symptoms.

—Allergist and immunologist SANDRA HONG, MD, of the Department of Pulmonary, Allergy and Critical Care Medicine

Q: My mother has trouble walking, but refuses to get a walker or cane. How can I convince her?

A: Sometimes, it is best to ask a physician to address the issue so the parent can hear the message from a non-family member. In this situation, I usually “soft-sell” a rollator walker (a walker with four wheels instead of two). I emphasize that this is a leg-strengthening exercise device that allows them to walk quickly and increase their distances so they can keep their legs from getting weaker. It’s like using a cart at the grocery store.

—FREDERICK FROST, MD, chair of the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and falls prevention specialist

Q: How can I make my oven-fried chicken taste more like the real thing?

A: Baking eliminates the saturated and trans fats in oils used for frying chicken, and removing the skin can further slash calories and fat. To maintain the flavor and texture, marinate the chicken before you cook it. Try adding some Za’atar to an olive oil/vinegar mixture for a marinade. As a bonus, the thyme and sumac seed in this Mediterranean spice blend have been found to cut down on pathogens found in raw meat. Next, dip the chicken in yogurt to coat it, then lightly dust with a mixture of 100 percent corn flour and 100 percent whole-wheat flour.

 —KRISTIN KIRKPATRICK, MS, RD, LD, registered dietitian and wellness manager for the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute

Q: Is it true that coughing can stop a heart attack?

A: The theory that by coughing vigorously you can keep yourself from passing out until your heart starts beating normally again is incorrect. When you have a heart attack, tissue in the heart can die, but your heart usually keeps on beating. During cardiac arrest, your heart suddenly stops beating and unconsciousness and death follow swiftly. So-called “cough CPR” can maintain circulation for a minute or two following cardiac arrest, as it physically forces blood from the chest up to the brain. But defibrillation is the only way to reliably reset a heart in cardiac arrest, and coughing is not useful in a patient with a heart attack. Approved CPR techniques can keep blood circulating until medical help arrives.

—MARC GILLINOV, MD, staff cardiac surgeon at the Sydell and Arnold Miller Family Heart & Vascular Institute

Cleveland Clinic, home to 120 medical specialties and subspecialties, is consistently named one of the nation’s best hospitals by U.S. News & World Report. Visit them online at