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Ways to Help Control Allergens in Your Home

Aug 6, 2012

Ways to help control Allergens inside and outside your home.

Controlling the home environment is a very important part of allergy care. Some general rules for home control for all members of the family are:

  • Reduce or remove as many asthma and allergy triggers from your home as possible.
  • If possible, use air filters and air conditioners to make your home cleaner and more comfortable. Pay attention to the problem of dust mites. Work hard to control this problem in the bedroom.
  • Vacuum cleaners stir up dust and allergens in the air. A vacuum cleaner with an air filter or a central vacuum cleaner with a collection bag outside the home may be of limited value. Anyone with asthma or allergies should avoid vacuuming. If vacuuming must be done, a dust mask may help.

 

OUTDOOR AIR, INDOOR AIR AND AIR-CONDITIONING

Controlling your exposure to triggers outdoors is hard. You may have to avoid outdoor air pollution, pollen, and mold spores. Any time air pollution and pollen levels are high it's a good idea to stay indoors.

The air at home is easier to control. Some people with asthma and allergies notice that their symptoms get worse at night. Trigger controls in the bedroom or wherever you sleep need the most care.

Air-conditioning can help. It allows windows and doors to stay closed. This keeps some pollen and mold spores outside. It also lowers indoor humidity. Low humidity helps to control mold and dust mites. Avoid too much air-conditioning or too much heat. Room air temperature should be comfortable for someone with allergies or asthma. Some people can't tolerate a big change in temperature, particularly from warm to cold air.

TRIGGER CONTROLS

Here are some common triggers and some ways to help control them at home:

  • Tobacco Smoke

Smoke should not be allowed in the home of someone with asthma or allergies. Ask family members and friends to smoke outdoors. Suggest that they quit smoking.

  • Wood Smoke

Wood smoke is a problem for children and adults with asthma and allergies. Avoid wood stoves and fireplaces.

  • Pets

Almost all pets can cause allergies, including dogs and especially cats. Small animals like birds, hamsters and guinea pigs can also cause problems. Removing the pet from the home is helpful in reducing allergy symptoms in sensitized patients, although it is understandably difficult to accomplish this at times.

Pet allergen may stay in the home for months after the pet is gone because it remains in house dust. Allergy and asthma symptoms may take some time to get better.

If the pet stays in the home, keep it out of the bedroom of anyone with asthma or allergies. Pet baths may help cut down the amount of pet saliva and dander in the home, although the baths need to be frequent (every 4 days or so) and the pet might harm their owner with their claws, etc. Sometimes you hear that certain cats or dogs are " non-allergenic." There really is no such thing as a " non-allergenic" cat or dog, especially if the pet leaves dander and saliva in the home. Goldfish and other tropical fish may be a good substitute.

  • Cockroaches

Even cockroaches can cause problems, so it's important to get rid of roaches in your home. The cockroach allergen comes from dead roaches and roach droppings. It collects in house dust and is hard to remove. Careful cleaning of your home will help. Cleaning up old food and barring insects access to foods are as effective as pesticides in controlling cockroaches.

  • Indoor Mold

When humidity is high, molds can be a problem in bathrooms, kitchens, and basements. Make sure these areas have good air circulation and are cleaned often. The basement in particular may need a dehumidifier. And remember, the water in the dehumidifier must be emptied and the container cleaned often to prevent forming mildew.

Molds may form on foam pillows when you perspire. To prevent mold, put the pillow in an airtight cover. Wash the pillow every week, and make sure to change it every year.

Molds also form in house plants. The soil in the pot allows outdoor molds to thrive indoors. You may have to keep all plants outdoors.

  • Strong Odors or Fumes

Perfume, room deodorizers, cleaning chemicals, paint, and talcum powder are examples of triggers that should be avoided or kept to very low levels.