If you suffer with allergies or asthma, you may be affected by more than just outdoor allergens such as pollen. Controlling indoor allergens can help to improve air quality within the home and to reduce unpleasant allergic reactions and asthma.
An allergy causes the body’s immune system to overreact to what is normally a nonthreatening substance – known as an allergen. Environmental allergies are when a person has an immune response to something in their surroundings that is usually otherwise harmless, such as pollen, mold, dust mites, pet dander, pollution, and smoke.
Allergies can cause a variety of symptoms that range from a runny nose, sneezing, itching, coughing, and a skin rash (hives) to asthma attacks and anaphylaxis – which can be life-threatening if it is not treated immediately.
What Are Common Indoor Allergens?
Allergens are often spread through the air. Being airborne causes them to easily settle onto furniture, surfaces, and floors, and allows them to be easily inhaled and to get onto the skin.
The main indoor hosts of allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, and mold, include:
- Soft furnishings (curtains, fabric upholstery, etc.)
- Stuffed toys
- Mattresses that are not protected by allergy covers
- Damp areas
- Indoor plants
Preventive Measures to Control Indoor Allergens
There are ways to improve the air quality within your home and to reduce allergens. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recommends:
- Ventilating indoor areas well
- Controlling contact with indoor airborne allergens
- Using air purifiers to clean indoor air
The following are ways to reduce the dust mites, dander, mold, and pollen in your home:
Controlling Dust Mites
Keeping floors and walls as bare as possible and keeping surfaces in the home clean and uncluttered can help to prevent the buildup of dust and other allergens. Wall-to-wall carpets, heavy drapes, overstuffed fabric furniture, fabric blinds, and throw pillows should all be avoided as they can trap allergens and cause asthma attacks.
When dusting, use a damp cloth or one that is treated with polish to reduce airborne allergens. Vacuuming at least once a week can help to keep allergen levels low. Asthma- and allergy-friendly vacuums are available to effectively prevent allergens from going back into the air.
Preventing Pet Dander
Pet dander comprises very small particles of skin that has been shed by animals with fur or feathers, and these particles tend to be sticky. Some animals have lower levels of allergenic proteins that may lead to fewer or no allergy symptoms, such as dogs that are related to the poodle, but there is no such thing as a completely hypoallergenic pet.
For allergy sufferers with pets, it is best to avoid having carpet in the house, keep pets out of bedrooms, and wash and change pet bedding and toys often. Frequently bathing, brushing, and grooming pets can help to reduce allergy symptoms, but these duties should be performed by someone other than the allergy sufferer. If you have pet dander allergies and you must perform one or more of these duties yourself, wear a mask so that you do not breathe in the dander, and take a shower afterward to wash the dander off of your skin.
Preventing Mold Spores and Pollen Indoors
Pollen can travel through the air and into homes, and pollen levels usually increase in the spring and late fall. To help prevent pollen from getting indoors and into your lungs, keep windows and doors closed, especially in the mornings and evenings when it is at its highest level.
Reducing humidity helps to reduce mold growth and dust mites in your home. Air conditioners can help to reduce humidity as well as prevent outdoor allergens such as pollen and mold (because you will keep your windows shut), but it is important to change filters often.
Reducing moisture in the bathrooms, kitchen, and other areas where there is a lot of water can help to prevent mold. Limiting the number of house plants, fixing any leaks, completely mopping up wet or damp areas, and using a dehumidifier can also help to reduce mold in your home.
Comprehensive Allergy Care in North Texas
If you have symptoms that may be related to allergies, seek specialized medical care from the Lung & Sleep Specialists of North Texas in Weatherford. Our board-certified healthcare providers are well-trained in diagnosing and treating asthma and allergies. We take a holistic approach in order to treat your condition effectively.
If you would like to find out more about our services and treatments or to schedule allergy testing, call us today at (817) 594-9993 or request an appointment now via our online form. We look forward to helping you breathe deeply all year long!