Both over-the-counter and prescription medications can alleviate allergy symptoms, but if you aren’t getting the relief you need, think prevention. By taking a pro-active approach to allergens in your home, you can often stop symptoms before they start. Some solutions are easy and offer instant relief, some will require a change in habits or take a bit more time. All are worth the misery they save by keeping allergies under control.
- A great deal of pollen and outdoor contaminants travel into your home on people’s shoes. I have my family members in the practice of removing their shoes at the door, and storing their everyday shoes in our mudroom. Bonus: You’ll save cleaning time and wear and tear on carpets and floors.
- Your home should be smoke-free. The dangers of second-hand smoke are well established, and allergy sufferers are particularly sensitive to smoke. If someone in your household still hasn’t kicked the habit, insist they smoke outside, or at the very least, confine smoking to a single room of the home with an air purifier, with doors and registers of that room closed off from the rest of the home.
- Invest in an air purifier with a HEPA filter, sized for your home.
- I dust with a damp cloth (or you can use a special dusting cloth that magnetizes and traps dust, dander and pollen) that have settled on household surfaces. Dry dusting simply blows pollen and dust around in the air. Avoid feather dusters.
- Keep pets restricted to certain areas of the house, preferably in rooms without carpeting. Make bedrooms off-limits for pets. I wash and brush my pets often, especially my cats that spend much time outdoors. If you are getting a new pet, research low-allergen breeds, as well as those that shed minimally.
- Choose your vacuum system wisely. Vacuum often, and I recommend that you consider a system that transports dust, dirt and allergens to a central source. Central vacuum systems like Vacuflo®, Element and Dirt Devil® don’t recirculate particles back into the air.
- Keep mold in check by maintaining the relative humidity of your home below 50%. I use a dehumidifier in the basement and don’t forget to empty and clean the units often. Bathrooms should be equipped with fans that vent to the outside; I always have my family run fans while showering. Periodically check pipes, faucets, appliances, duct work, ceilings and roofs for leaks that can cause moisture buildup in hidden places and create a breeding ground for mold.
- Choose your cleaning products carefully to avoid contact with Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) such as formaldehyde and ammonia. While a good air purifier will offset some of the harmful fumes of cleaning products, choose natural cleaners when possible, as well as products that do not contain artificial fragrances that can irritate allergies. Make sure to use proper ventilation and wear a mask when using paint, floor polishes or other substances containing chemicals.
- Dust mites can be your downfall, though it’s not dust mites themselves that trigger allergies, but their waste products. Starve dust mites by reducing their food sources: dead skin cells and perspiration. Your prime battleground in the war against dust mites? The bedroom. Though dust mites live everywhere in the home, especially in upholstered or carpeted areas. Learn winning strategies in the war against dust mites here on my blog.