According to recent statistics, an estimated one in five Americans suffers from asthma or allergy symptoms. Furthermore, allergies are ranked as the fifth most common chronic illness in the country. Allergies can be caused by a number of things, including food, dust, animal hair and dander, insect skins and feces, mold, rodent droppings, pollen and even dyes and perfumes. While not all of these things will bother everyone, they are some of the most common allergens inside of your home. If you’re tired of suffering for most of the year, here are some tips for making your home allergy-proof.
1. Air Purification
Air purification is one of the most helpful ways to reduce indoor allergen levels, especially if HEPA filtration is used. The only downside to air purifiers is that they cost a lot and you won’t always be able to find filters for the model you select. A convenient alternative is to make a homemade air purifier by purchasing a 20 inch box fan and a 20-inch by 20-inch by one-inch furnace filter. The filter gets held onto the back of the fan by the blades’ suction, and you get cleaner air for less money.
2. House Plants
Plants are nature’s air purifiers. When placed in your home, they will absorb not only toxic chemicals from the air but also mold spores, bacteria, viruses and pollen. In exchange for water, light and care, they’ll give you fresh, clean oxygen to breathe.
3. Fresh Filters
All central air or heating units that use air filtration must have their filters replaced periodically, although this varies with every household. People who smoke and own pets are going to have to change their filters more often that people who don’t. However, some experts recommend changing the filters every month regardless of whether or not they look dirty.
4. Closed Windows
Though it seems like a nice idea to have the windows open on a lovely day, it’s like inviting the mold and pollen inside. It’s a good idea to keep windows closed unless necessary.
5. Dust Mite Control
Dust mites are a problem for almost everyone. They live in carpets, bedding, furniture, clothing and even mattresses, feeding off of your dead skin cells and depositing their filth everywhere. This filth, composed mainly of their feces and shed skins, is the biggest cause of indoor allergies. Placing plastic covers on mattresses and furniture and regularly laundering bedding and clothes on high temperatures helps keep their numbers under control.
6. Getting Rid of Pests
As the cooler months approach, it’s not uncommon for pests like cockroaches and mice to seek shelter and a free meal in your home. Cockroaches, while they don’t spread diseases, cause allergies for a lot of people through their dander and feces. Mice are an even bigger problem and do more than just breed prolifically and nibble holes in food packaging. Their urine and feces carry disease-causing microorganisms and can also contribute to allergies. Most people who are allergic to the hair and dander of other animals are also allergic to those of mice.
7. Thorough Dusting Job
Because dust is little more than an amalgam of different allergens, it’s best to ensure that it doesn’t build up. Popular methods like feather dusting and vacuuming can toss allergens back into the air. Settled dust can be more efficiently removed by using electrostatic dusting cloths, dusting sprays or a wet rag. If you use disposable electrostatic cloths, tying up the used ones tightly in a small bag for disposal can help keep any dust from getting back into the air.
Author: Michelle Holincheck, FNP