Preventing spring allergies with Dr. James Tarbox

LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) - Allergies are the sixth leading cause of chronic illness in the U.S., according to the CDC. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year.

I can't help but wonder if that number includes everybody in West Texas because when the dust blows, so many suffer.

But Dr. James Tarbox, an allergist and Texas Tech Physician, says that's a different kind of dust which brings a different kind of problem.

He explains, "That stuff gets into your nose, eyes,lungs so if you already have allergies with a runny nose or asthma, it will make you feel worse. Dust mites are those spider like creatures that you can find in your bedroom, in your bed and your carpet and plenty of people are allergic to that."

But as far as the dust that blows in with our West Texas winds, he says beware of spring cleaning.

"I have a  lot of patients who try to clean up their house in the springtime, but one of the bad things people do is they like to open up all their windows and doors to air out your house and that's one of the worse things you can do because then you're just letting everything outside come inside."

Dr. Tarbox adds that one place dust likes to hide is on the blades of a ceiling fan.

"You'll get a nice thin layer of dust on your ceiling fan and where it can really bother you is a lot of people like to turn their ceiling fans on at night so you're kicking up all that dust at night and it's circulating around while you're trying to sleep."

His best advice in preventing dust and allergens from multiplying inside the house?

Shower at night, especially if you put gels and sprays in your hair that can cling to allergens like a magnet. He says, "You might actually benefit from taking a shower in the evening because your hair will be clean, your body will be clean and when you go to bed you can keep your bed and your pillow without any allergens or dust on it."

Overall, he says, the most important room to keep clean is the bedroom because that's where dust mites like to sleep too... in your bed and pillow.

The good news is there are a lot of excellent products available over the counter now to fight spring allergies. Dr. Tarbox lists a few of his favorites in the interview...and he says there are studies to back it up.

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