Inside a typical American home, the air is dirtier – often a good deal dirtier – than just outside the house, with many unwholesome contaminants posing a threat to family members who suffer from allergies and other respiratory issues. During allergy season, including in the spring, the situation is exacerbated by the onslaught of pollen. The good news is that you can minimize your exposure to allergies by recognizing common allergy triggers and knowing what to do about them. Check out the following allergy tips.
Common Allergy Triggers
• Pets. Unfortunately, your dog and/or cats are efficient carriers of pollen, dander and other potential allergens. If you or family members have pet allergies, use common sense and keep your direct contact to a minimum. Close doors to bedrooms and don’t let Fido and Mittens get on the furniture. And needless to say, carefully consider whether you want to adopt that cute kitten your neighbors are trying to give away.
• Dust mites. This common allergy trigger thrives in the same climate conditions that we humans live in. Dust mites consume the tiny flakes of skin that shed from human bodies. Consequently, your bedding and furniture provide an attractive habitat. You can take steps to minimize exposure to dust mites. Cover sheets, box springs and pillowcases with allergy-proof casings, and routinely wash blankets and sheets in very hot water (in excess of 130 degrees F.).
• Mold. Your indoor air also may be contaminated by mold spores, originating from mold colonies in damp, dark parts of our home. Inspect your house and when you spot particularly damp areas, take steps to clean and remove the moisture, as well as whatever might be causing it (foundation leaks, defective plumbing, etc.). Use a portable dehumidifier to remove excess moisture from a specific problem area during the humid season. Carefully clean up visible mold immediately with a mixture of water, detergent and 5 percent bleach. For big infestations of mold, don’t hesitate to call in a professional.
• Pollen. This allergy trigger may originate outside, but it has many ways of entering your home, including by hitching a ride on family members’ jackets, shoes and caps, and as mentioned before, on indoor-outdoor pets. Remove outerwear and shoes and brush down pets upon entering the home. During high allergy season, keep doors and windows closed as much as possible. An effective ventilation system also can reduce the presence of allergens in your home.
Other tactics for eliminating allergens in your home? Clean and dust as often as possible, and consider installing a high-efficiency air purification or cleaning system that works hand in hand with your forced-air cooling and heating system. Use filters for your AC, heat pump or furnace that are rated for removal of pollen and other tiny allergens (though don’t choose a filter that’s so efficient that it also will impede system airflow).