Indoors Doesn’t Mean ‘Allergy Free’

If it’s the middle of winter and you’re still suffering from the discomfort of seasonal allergies, you may actually be reacting to indoor allergens. That’s right—staying home won’t even keep you safe from allergies, since some of the peskiest allergy triggers lurk in a home’s every corner and crevice.

However, not everyone is sensitive to indoor allergens; that is dependent on your body and immune system’s reaction to the allergen ‘invader’. An allergist or immunologist can help determine which allergens are causing your perennial allergic rhinitis (i.e. year-round allergies), but here are a few tips to keep yourself from suffering before you head to the doctor.

Dust mites are microscopic creatures that live in warm, humid environments and are considered the most common indoor allergy trigger, according to the Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. Health News reports these tiny insects thrive when rooms are above 40 percent humidity, and at temperatures above 70 degrees Fahrenheit. Essentially, dust mites can be found almost anywhere in a home, but they tend to collect on soft, warm surfaces. Unfortunately, this includes places too close for comfort, such as bedding, sheets, blankets or couches.

Recommendations for keeping dust mites at bay include:

  • Wash bedding regularly
  • Use allergen-proof casings for bedding, pillows, etc.
  • Vacuum frequently, using a HEPA filter on the vacuum bag
    • Hint: If you’re already suffering from indoor allergies, or have a history of allergies or asthma, this is a perfect excuse to pass on the vacuuming chore. Kicking up all the dust mites through vacuuming could worsen your symptoms!

Pets are also common culprits for indoor allergens (see: Furry friend… or Foe?), with cats being the cause of pet allergies most often. It is difficult to determine which breeds of pets will set off symptoms and which will not, as there is no scientific proof that one breed is more allergy-prone than another. Further, evidence shows that a “hypoallergenic” pet does not exist. That said, certain pets do produce less dander, making symptoms or the susceptibility to those allergens, much less. Pet dander, urine, saliva and more can incite or exacerbate allergy symptoms. If allergic symptoms seem to be frequent when near the animal, it is best to keep them secluded to a few rooms in the house, bathe them frequently, and avoid petting or touching them.

Mold grows most commonly in basements, showers, kitchens and bathtubs. Mold tends to develop in damp, dark environments especially if cleaning in that area is infrequent.  By controlling the temperature in your home with dehumidifiers and air conditioners, homeowners can limit the amount of moisture in the air and therefore reduce mold growth. WebMD suggests that the humidity should hover between 35-50 percent in order to keep mold from growing. If mold is spotted (in a refrigerator drip pan, underneath a sink, in the corner of a bathtub, or anywhere else) use a bleach solution and/or soap and water to clean the area as soon as possible. Lastly, a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter on an air-conditioning unit could help trap mold spores before they enter your home.

Cockroaches—as unpleasant as this may be—can be a source of allergens due to their feces or saliva. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, cockroaches are an issue mostly found in large cities and in the southern United States. Experts advise calling an exterminator at the first sight of a cockroach, as it may mean more cockroaches are hidden in unseen places around the home. The American Academy of Allergy & Immunology also suggest blocking off cracks and crevices, putting away pet dishes, frequently removing garbage, tightly sealing foods, and fixing leaky faucets or pipes to reduce the appearance of roaches.

An allergist or immunologist can help identify which allergens in your home or workplace may be causing your allergic reactions. Removal of indoor allergens is essential to avoid indoor allergies, however, keeping an allergy medicine on hand can help to alleviate symptoms.

Make sure your medicine cabinet is stocked with DayClear Allergy to ensure you get fast relief for any indoor allergy symptoms.