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Reclaim Your Home

From Allergy Symptoms

Allergens can be found almost everywhere—and your home is no exception.

 

Millions of people suffer from allergy symptoms,1 including when they are at home. Try these tips to reduce the top four household allergens and troublemakers: pollen, mold, dust mites, and pet dander.

Put pollen in its place: outdoors.
Pollen can be one of the worst allergy-symptom culprits. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) explains, “Seasonal allergic rhinitis is often caused by tree pollen in the early spring. During the late spring and early summer, grasses often cause symptoms. Late summer and fall hay fever is caused by weeds.”2

But, according to the AAAAI,2 there are several ways to keep pollen from invading your home:
  • Start with your yard. Mowing the lawn or raking leaves can stir up pollen. When this task needs to be done, consider asking or hiring someone else to do it. If you must do it yourself, consider taking allergy medications prescribed by your allergist at the recommended dosage before mowing.
  • Keep windows closed at night to keep pollen from drifting indoors. To keep cool at night, use air conditioning, which cleans, cools, and dries indoor air.
  • Hanging clothes or sheets out to dry gives them a nice, fresh smell, but be cautious. Pollen can collect on your clothes as they hang on the line, helping them find a way into your house.
  • If you’ve been outdoors, take a shower when you come in, and change your clothes. This reduces allergens that might have collected on your skin, hair, and clothes, and helps to keep pollen out of the house.3

Don’t let mold take hold.
Indoor mold, or fungus, flourishes on dampness and humidity.4

The AAAAI recommends:4
  • Cleaning hard surfaces, such as your bathroom tubs, shower stalls (and curtains), and curtains, and windowsills, with water, detergent, and, if necessary, 5% bleach (do not mix with other cleaners) or a disinfectant to kill mold and mildew. Dry the area completely.
  • Use a dehumidifier in damp areas or during humid weather. An air conditioner can also keep humidity low so molds have less opportunity to thrive.
  • Remove carpeting from concrete or damp floors, especially in the basement.
  • Avoid storing items in damp areas.
  • Promptly repair areas that may be water damaged—roofs, basements, sinks, and pipes.

Try mighty solutions to dust mite problems.
These small insects are visible only by microscope. Yet their droppings (not the insects themselves) can cause allergy symptoms year-round.

To help reduce exposure, the AAAAI suggests:4
  • Wash bedding—including mattress covers and pillow covers—in hot water (130 °F), and dry in a hot dryer every week.
  • Remove as much humidity as possible from your home by using a dehumidifier or air conditioning, as dust mites thrive on moisture.
  • Limit or avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, and replace with throw rugs that can be washed regularly or dry cleaned.
  • Weekly, use a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter or a double-layered bag and wear a dust mask. If possible, ask someone else to vacuum (while you do another household task, of course!).

Here’s the best solution to reduce allergens: Cover your mattress, box springs, and pillows with allergen-proof fabric covers or airtight, zippered plastic covers, and wash regularly.

Life is dandier without dander.
We love our pets, but we don’t love the allergy symptoms that can come from their dander (small scales from the skin or fur of an animal).
  • If you don’t want to keep your pet outdoors, consider at least keeping him out of your bedroom, where you spend at least a third of your day.
  • Reduce allergens by frequently vacuuming living spaces where your pet likes to hang out. Be sure to use a HEPA filter vacuum. Also, using a HEPA air cleaner may help reduce animal allergen exposure.
  • Bathe your pet regularly.

A Trusted Resource
The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) represents allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals, and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease.


1
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Tips to Remember: Rhinitis (Hay Fever). Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/rhinitis.stm. Accessed 6 April 2011.
2
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Tips to Remember: Outdoor Allergens. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/outdoorallergens.stm. Accessed 6 April 2011.
3
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Topic of the month: August 2006 Ragweed, allergies and hay fever. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/topicofthemonth/0806/. Accessed 8 April 2011.
4
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Tips to Remember: Indoor Allergens. Available at: http://www.aaaai.org/patients/publicedmat/tips/indoorallergens.stm. Accessed 6 April 2011.