Often difficult to trace, allergies can make life seem unbearable. Respiratory allergies typically result in symptoms of coughing, sneezing, dry and itchy eyes, wheezing, and asthmatic flare-ups. Attacks can be caused by dust, microscopic mites, spores, pollen, animal dander and even household chemicals. If you begin regularly experiencing allergic reactions, the first place to begin investigations is the home.
Too often, the source of allergies will remain a mystery, or removal will not be a possibility. Your spouse’s long-time animal companion and seasonal pollen are good examples of the latter. In any case, allergy-proofing the home offers a remedy for sufferers. Assuming an unknown source, removing the conditions supportive of multiple allergens is a good way to start.
Ventilation and Filtration
High humidity and often poor ventilation of bathrooms makes them a breeding ground for fungus. Any area where humidity is common needs thorough drying after each use. Items like the shower curtain, bath mats and plumbing fixtures need to be cleaned regularly. An exhaust fan can be installed for areas lacking ventilation, including the kitchen.
HVAC units will typically do a good job of maintaining lower than normal humidity levels. However, they require regular maintenance for optimal function. HEPA-rated filters should be changed once a month, and air units need cleaning just as often. During pollen season, it is important to use recirculation setting to avoid bringing extra pollen into the home.
Particles that aren’t removed by filtration will settle on surfaces. They may be irritants or provide food for other irritants, such as dust mites. General maintenance tips include:
- using a vacuum on carpets and upholstery once per week
- wiping down hard surfaces, such as window sills, counters, and knick-knacks, with a wet towel
- keeping all cabinets, drawers, and closets closed
Serious sufferers will want to consider replacing carpets with hardwood flooring or tile. Fabric furniture can likewise be replaced with either short-fiber fabrics or leather for simple cleaning. Wallpaper can trap humidity and hide other allergens, so it may be a good idea to consider painting. Just be sure to use mold-resistant paint in high humidity areas.
Optimally, a third of every day should be spent sleeping. It makes sense to target the bed since linens and mattresses are a natural repository of dust and mites. Also, some bedding materials contain known allergens. For general maintenance, regularly wash linens and use a professional steam cleaner on the mattress. Plastic covers can be installed after thorough cleaning to prevent dust mites.
Pillows should be replaced with all synthetic materials rated as hypoallergenic. These should also be encased in plastic covers. Another option is the buckwheat hull pillow. About 3-5 percent of people are allergic to buckwheat, but others will find the support and all-natural material provides a satisfying sleep experience.
When Other Efforts Fail
Allergy-proofing the home is not a sure way of stopping attacks. Allergens may be encountered outside the home, and sometimes a specific product or food in the home is responsible. Prescription-strength allergy medications from Edrugstore.md can provide a low-cost solution. Several options are available, and it is best to talk to a doctor before taking any prescription medication.
Most allergy problems can be successfully reduced or eliminated entirely by allergy-proofing the home. When this doesn’t work, allergy medication can stop attacks. Doctors can help in choosing the right medicine and identifying specific allergens.