Spring is here, bringing with it pleasant weather and, for many people, allergies. If you are one of the millions of Americans who suffer from seasonal allergies, there are several steps you can take to avoid your triggers and clean up the environment in your home to reduce your symptoms.
Dust your home once a week, but don’t use a feather duster or dry rag because they stir up more dust than they trap. A wet cloth or paper towel will trap more dust. Wear gloves and a face mask when dusting or wash your hands when you are done.
Get a high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) vacuum to trap tiny particles in rugs, floors, and furniture. A vacuum cleaner with a bag is better because it will not release dust into the air when you empty it. Wash your vacuum’s canister, brushes, and filter and look for cracks or gaps around the filter.
Dust mites live in beds, where they feed on skin cells that are shed by people and pets. You can reduce dust mites by using allergen-proof cases for pillows, mattresses, box springs, and comforters. Choose covers made from very tightly woven microfiber.
Wash your throw pillows, curtains, shower curtains, and area rugs once a month in hot water to remove allergens, such as dust mites and pollen. You can reduce the amount of laundry you need to do by replacing your curtains with blinds and getting rid of area rugs.
The inside of a washing machine is a warm, dark place where fungi and bacteria such as E. coli can grow. Detergent does not get rid of them. You can eliminate these allergens by cleaning your washing machine’s drum, door, and rubber gasket with diluted bleach or using a cleaning tablet. Remove wet clothes promptly to prevent the growth of mold. Leave the door open when you are not using the washing machine so the door and drum can dry.
Closets are often full of allergens. When you put clothes in the hamper, pollen and dander can be spread to clean clothes hanging in the closet. Dust can also collect in closets. Empty and thoroughly clean your closet once a year. When you put things back, leave a space in front of a wall that separates the inside and outside of your house to prevent mold caused by condensation. Make sure closet vents are open to allow heat and conditioned air to circulate.
Many allergy sufferers are allergic to plants in their homes. Some flowering plants, such as hibiscus, do not trigger allergies. Other plants, such as corn plant (mass cane) can remove contaminants such as formaldehyde that increase sensitivity to allergens from the air.
Since different people respond differently to a variety of allergens, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic pet. Even pets classified as hypoallergenic and birds have dander. If you are allergic to pollen and want to get a pet, choose one with short hair so less pollen will get trapped in its coat.
Different types of pollen peak at different times of the day, but morning is generally the worst time for people with allergies. If you like to exercise outdoors, check the pollen count first and work out indoors if it is high. Wind can raise the pollen concentration in the air. The best time to exercise outside is right after rain washes away pollen.
The FDA has approved sublingual pills for grass and ragweed allergies, but they are not right for everyone. They work best for people who are only sensitive to one allergen. Allergy shots can treat sensitivity to multiple allergens.
People who have allergies are 30 percent more likely to experience migraines, and they may get headaches that are more intense and more frequent than migraine sufferers without allergies. Researchers theorize that the connection may be related to the trigeminal nerve, the primary sensory nerve in the face. Allergy shots can reduce migraines by 50 percent.