Dealing with Indoor Allergens

Shot of a senior man blowing his nose with his wife comforting him on the sofa

The itchy, watery eyes. The on-going congestion. The tingling sensation that just…just…just…makes you sneeze! Spring means fresh flowers and sunshine, but it also brings along allergies. Allergies are the body’s overreaction to foreign protein that gets into or onto the body. And it’s the sixth-leading chronic illness in the United States, impacting more than 100 million people.

While the pollen outside may be problematic, many allergies are caused by indoor elements. Common items that impact allergies include pets, carpeting, plants, stuffed toys, upholstered furniture, and bedding (including linens, mattresses, and pillows). Many allergens are on surfaces and then become airborne when disturbed.

So, what can you do to reduce allergies indoors? Here are six actions to take.

  1. Get rid of the carpet. Hard floors, even those with throw rugs, are better for allergies than wall-to-wall carpeting. Vacuum any rugs or carpeting weekly, preferably with a HEPA-filtered cleaner. Do a thorough cleaning with shampoo often.
  2. Dust with precision. Dusting will help remove some of the most prominent allergens, including mold spores. Instead of using a feather duster or a cloth to brush away dust, use a damp cloth to trap the dust and remove it. Clean from top to bottom in a room, to prevent respreading dust around previously wiped areas.
  3. Wash your bedding. We spent about one-third of the day in bed sleeping, so a clean bed is critical to preventing allergies. Change the bed sheets weekly, washing them in hot water. Switch out down or feather comforters and pillow with those made of synthetic materials. If possible, cover the mattress, box spring, pillows, and comforter in dust mite proof soft protector.
  4. Keep Fido out of the bedroom. Animal companions bring love into our homes, as well as dander. If you have a furry or feathery pets, keep them out of your bedroom and wash beds and toys frequently. Cover vents with cheesecloth or something similar to prevent the spread of the dander throughout the home.
  5. Clear out the clutter. Knick-knacks, magazines, children’s toys and assorted mementos can collect dust. Discard or donate items that no longer have meaning or store them in plastic bins where they won’t gather allergens. Embrace minimalism in décor to reduce allergies.
  6. Invest in good filters. It’s important to change air system filters regularly and use ones that will provide the most protection possible. Buying a stand-alone HEPA filter that can move room-to-room is another way to purify the air where you are at. Just ensure it is the right size for the room you are in by looking at its clean air delivery rate (CADR).

 Indoors, especially our homes, is where we expect to relax and enjoy life. A few changes can ensure that even those with allergies can breathe easy inside.

Source: IlluminAge AgeWise with information from Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, the Cleveland Clinic, Cedars-Sinai, and the Mayo Clinic.

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