Ragweed and pollen can drive us mad during the allergy season, but our own home is not much of a haven either, as it can be nurturing the devious triggers responsible for most allergy symptoms.
If you can’t seem to pinpoint the reason for your itchy eyes, constant sneezing and stuffiness, you may want to look for the main culprits in your living environment.
As unnoticeable as they may seem, indoor allergens are just as hazardous as the outdoor triggers, which is why their detection and proper prevention may be a lifesaver. Here are the common allergens to watch out for in your household and how to effectively get rid of them.
Symptoms of indoor allergies
Allergic reactions are the immediate response of the immune system to a foreign agent, an invader strange to your body. These particles, the allergens, are typically found in our surroundings (dust, insects, pet dander, etc.) and are not generally harmful. However, if a person intolerable of these substances is continuously exposed to allergens, the body will cause a chain of reactions.
The symptoms usually include allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or can even trigger asthmatic symptoms. Common responses to allergens in your house may include:
- Face puffiness
- Stuffiness or a runny nose
- Eye irritation (redness, teary eyes)
- Frequent sneezing in a row
- Shortness of breath
- Wheezing and tightness in the throat
- Dry coughing
- Scratchy or sore throat
These symptoms may also be your body’s response to a completely different health issue, so to be sure you’re dealing with allergies, get yourself tested by using one of the home allergy test kits you can buy online or in a pharmacy.
Test kits for self-use can check more than 280 allergens and help you make the first steps in allergy-proofing your home for good.
Common home allergens and how to deal with them
Potential allergens can always be found somewhere in every home. Apart from the common house dust, usually the main trigger for allergic reactions, you may also want to look into other disruptive particles that could have been bugging you.
These pesky pests are usually found in upholstered furniture, sheets, feather pillows, stuffed animals, curtains, carpeting, and other fabric items. Although they don’t spread any disease or are harmful to humans, mites’ faeces can trigger severe allergic reactions and bug you with runny eyes, itchiness, and skin rashes.
Dust mites thrive best in warm, humid environments and mostly live off human skin cells we shed and secretions like sweat.
If you happen to be dust-mite infested, that doesn’t mean your house is dirty or neglected. In fact, it is their disturbance in the form of vacuuming, tossing and turning in bed, making the bed, cleaning, etc. that disintegrates the allergens into fine powder floating in the air.
These allergens then quickly find their way into the airways through the nose, mouth, eyes, and skin and cause severe reactions.
The best way to have a mite-free home is to wash and change your bedding frequently.
Get allergen-proof covers and make sure you always sleep on dry and clean sheets.
Washing your cushions, curtains, and carpets more responsibly can also minimize the risk of contact with the mites.
Upon awakening, neatly make your bed and make sure your sheets and blankets are nicely spread and able to dry quickly. Make a light draught in your bedroom and always keep it breezy to avoid humidity.
Symptoms of allergic rhinitis and asthma are commonly connected to inhaling mould spores. Similar to mites, mould (virtually a type of fungi) likes humidity and appears on wet surfaces and in warm areas, but indoors usually comes through open doors and windows.
Bathroom walls, tiles, shower stalls, damp basement pipes and walls, are common places to find this greenish, musty-smelling fungi. Mould can also be found on house plants and flowers.
Mould is very common in houses and is nothing to worry about. However, it may cause some of the listed symptoms. Most home allergy tests can show whether the mould is one of the allergens causing irritation.
To avoid mould collecting in your household, monitor humidity levels around the house. Sealed windows and constant heating in winter can create perfect conditions for mould forming, so make sure to keep the airflow in your rooms and make quick draughts from time to time.
A humidity meter is very easy to use and a cheap solution to the problem. It’s recommended to keep it below 50% optimal to keep away the potential allergens. Vent fans in the bathroom and kitchen are a must to keep the moisture low.
To remove the existing mould, try using vinegar, baking soda and hydrogen peroxide (not all mixed together though!). See this website to learn how to do get rid of mould using these ingredients.
While we like to cuddle up and snooze in bed with our furry friends, no cat and dog breed is free from pet allergens.
Pets transfer allergies through dander, tiny specks of hair and skin that are shed in their surroundings. What’s more, animal saliva, hair and faeces can also cause allergic reactions in some sensitive people.
The best way to get rid of pet dander is to keep the hygiene and cleanliness on the top level. Regular vacuuming and cleaning the pet’s sleeping and eating area essential.
If possible, keep the pet’s bed in a separate room or place, away from your bedroom. Regular grooming, coat brushing and bathing will prevent the dander from spreading in your living area.
If you experience allergy symptoms, avoid lying in the same bed with your animal companion.
Since dander is basically shedded skin, make sure to always wash your hands with soap and warm water after petting and playing with your four-legged friend.
Air fresheners and candles
Often the overlooked allergy triggers, synthetic air fresheners, scented candles, and other chemicals can very much be the cause of your allergic reactions.
Studies have discovered that asthma patients and those with respiratory problems experience more severe asthma attacks, allergic reactions and overall health issues in the households where these products are used.
Ingredients like alcohol, formaldehyde, fragrances and other chemicals are hard on delicate patients like children and can cause symptoms such as intense headaches, dizziness, eye puffiness, difficulty breathing, etc.
The solution is simple – just get rid of any product that seems to be triggering discomfort and issues and opt for more natural and allergen-free products.
Many companies make plant-based, chemical-free air fresheners that are mainly based on essential oils, herbs and fruit extracts. You can even make your DIY candles or products with orange or lemon peels, dry lavender flowers, or the good old potpourri.
Health and well-being come from balanced eating habits and exercise, but they also depend on our environment. Luckily, our home is something we’re in control of, and it’s only the matter of getting adequately informed and equipped to keep yourself and your family safe from potential health hazards. Indoor allergens are easily removable only when they are effectively detected and handled.