Nearly 1 out of 6 Americans suffer from allergies. People with allergies have to contend with symptoms such as runny noses, itchy eyes, and skin rashes during allergy season. And I haven’t even included exposure to perennial allergens such as mold, dust, and pet dander.
Your first instinct may be to limit your time outdoors. After all, you want to prevent exposure to pollen other allergens so you won’t have to deal with all the sneezing and coughing. However, you could end up sicker if you decide to spend most of your time indoors. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, the air quality is often worse indoors than outdoors.
Many homes harbor noxious chemicals as well as allergens such as pollen, mites, and mold. If you want to rid your home of contaminants, you need to strike at the root of the problem.
Identify your allergens
The first thing you need to do is to identify your triggers if you haven’t done so. This will entail a trip to an allergist, a doctor who specializes in asthma and allergies. Once you’ve identified the reasons for your allergies, you can then take steps to prevent them from recurring.
Without a proper diagnosis, you cannot know for sure what triggers your allergic rhinitis. For instance, you could be saying it’s dust or pollen, but the actual cause might be dog hair. Regular cleaning and installing a home air purification system will then solve your allergen problems at home.
Focus on your bedroom
Many of your allergy triggers can be found right inside your bedroom. For instance, dirty sheets and pillows can trigger skin allergies in some people. A dirty mattress can also harbor mites and bacteria that can aggravate your allergic rhinitis.
For starters, you can buy a plastic cover for your mattress to keep it clean and to prevent dust from spreading every time you lie in bed. You might also want to invest in hypoallergenic pillows and sheets to prevent allergen buildup. Latex and silk have hypoallergenic properties and are cool to the touch, which will improve your sleep quality. Most importantly, you need to wash your sheets at least twice a month to reduce the allergens in your bedroom.
Keep surfaces dry
Mold often grows in damp places, so you need to always be on the lookout for leaks in your plumbing. It pays to check the pipes and taps in your bathroom and kitchen. Leaks, if left alone, can lead to water damage and a mold infestation. Once the mold has set in, you have to call in a professional to deal with the problem.
In some cases, mold can grow even without a plumbing issue. Places that are always exposed to moisture and humidity, such as bathrooms, are hotbeds of mold growth, so you need to keep them dry to prevent water from accumulating. Use a dry mop or cloth to absorb any moisture and keep the room properly ventilated.
Clean the filter
Your home’s HVAC system plays a huge role in keeping it clean and free of allergens in the air. You need to make sure that the air circulating in the vents have been filtered to prevent outdoor pollutants from entering your home.
For starters, air conditioners and furnaces usually have filters that help trap dust and macroscopic pollutants. Not only do these filters keep your air clean, but they also prevent premature equipment failure due to dust buildup.
However, most allergens, including mold spores, pollen, and bacteria, are microscopic and are too small for your average filter to trap. If you want to keep your home free of allergens, you may want to invest in HEPA filters. Make sure to replace them every three months for maximum protection.
Avoid carpet floors
Carpet floors aren’t only challenging to maintain, but they can also aggravate your allergies. Allergens such as dust, pet fur, and mites accumulate in the carpet fibers. Once someone walks on the carpet, the fibers are agitated and the allergens spread into the air. If possible, remove carpets and rugs in your home and replace them with a hard and easy-to-clean surface such as wood and tile.
The bottom line
These are just some things you can do to prevent allergen buildup in your home. Keeping your home clean and dry goes a long way in arresting many of the causes of your allergies. If you’re still unsure of what to do, consult with your primary care provider about other steps you can take.