Millions of people suffer year-round from symptoms caused by indoor allergens, such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold, according to the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Fortunately, there are ways to identify and create an allergy-free home.
As the most common culprit of indoor allergens, dust mites are usually found in carpet, bedding upholstered furniture and even stuffed toys. These tiny, microscopic mites thrive in temperatures between 68 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit and like humidity levels of 70 to 80 percent, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation.
Dust mite allergy symptoms include coughing, sneezing, itchy red or watery eyes, and nasal congestion. In severe cases, people with asthma may experience chest tightness or pain, difficulty breathing and even trouble sleeping. A physician can diagnose a dust mite allergy by performing a skin or blood test and may prescribe medication to reduce symptoms.
Dust mites are often found in many areas of the home, mainly in the bedrooms. Experts recommend encasing mattresses, box springs and pillows in special allergen-proof fabric covers or airtight, zippered plastic covers. Bedding should be washed weekly in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Allergen-proof covers are available for comforters and pillows that can’t be regularly washed.
Other ways to reduce dust mites include cleaning and vacuuming carpets and rugs regularly, and because dust mites thrive in damp, warm environments, using an air conditioner to help reduce humidity levels.
Bits of skin shed by cats, dogs, rodents, birds and other animals with fur or feathers is known as pet dander and can cause reactions in people who are specifically allergic to these triggers.
For some, breathing animal allergens can make respiratory symptoms worse and lead to a decline in the ability of the lungs to function, according to the American Lung Association.
People with pet dander allergies may experience upper and lower respiratory tract symptoms including nasal congestion, sneezing, runny nose, chest tightness and wheezing. Other common symptoms are itching, watery eyes, and eczema or rashes.
To reduce allergy symptoms, pets should be kept out of bedrooms, off furniture and away from carpets and rugs.
Many different types of mold can be found inside a home, however only a few cause people to have an allergic reaction which occurs when seeds or spores travel through the air and are inhaled. Most people experience symptoms during the summer and fall, but some can have year-round reactions.
Mold spores that get into a person’s nose can cause hay fever symptoms and reach the lungs triggering asthma, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, which also recommends limiting outdoor activities when mold counts are high to lessen symptoms. People who spend time outdoors should consider wearing a dust mask when cutting grass, digging around plants, raking and picking up leaves.
To reduce indoor mold, use a central air conditioning system with a HEPA filter attachment, lower humidity levels to below 45 percent and pay close attention to mold and mildew buildup in bathrooms, kitchens and laundry areas.
Is your medicine cabinet safe?
If you haven’t gone through your medicine cabinet in a while, you may be putting yourself, your children and your pets at risk for accidental injection, misuse or overdose. There are proper ways to dispose and store medications safely including:
- Bring medication to the pharmacy – Many pharmacies accept and safely dispose of over-the-counter and prescription medications. Before you drop them off, remove all identifying information on bottle labels to protect your privacy
- Take precautions if you throw your drugs in your household trash – Mix them with cat litter, coffee grounds, or sawdust; put the mixture in a sealed plastic bag; then toss it in the trash. Collect the empty prescription bottles and put them in the plastics recycling bin.
- Store drugs correctly – When you know which prescription and over-the-counter medications you’re keeping, don’t put those in a medicine cabinet in the bathroom, where heat and moisture can degrade them and potentially make them less potent. A better spot is in a kitchen cabinet, away from the stove.
If you have any questions or concerns about your health and well-being, please contact us so we can get to know you and your situation better.