Common Household Allergens
The weather is getting cooler outside, which means cold and flu season is upon us. You might be thinking that staying cooped up inside your home might help avoid getting a stuffy nose, right? Wrong. The insides of our homes can be the habitat for countless household allergens. Dust allergens from pets, dust mites, or mold are almost impossible to fully prevent inside our homes. Dust and allergens build up much more quickly than you might imagine. While completely avoiding these allergens is nearly impossible, there are certainly some steps you can take to minimize any allergic reactions you or your family might have. Below are a few common household allergens and how to manage them.
Dust mites are one of the most common household allergens. They’re microscopic bugs that cannot be seen by the naked eye. They thrive in humid, warm environments. To prevent humidity in your home use air conditioning regularly and a dehumidifier. You can also make sure that your mattress and pillows are encased in tightly woven, dustproof and allergen-proof covers before putting sheets or pillowcases on. Washing bed sheets and pillowcases weekly in hot water (at least 130-140 degrees Fahrenheit) and drying them on high heat helps keep dust mites at bay. Having minimal carpeting, rugs, and upholstered furniture can also minimize the chance of having dust mites. If you plan to keep the carpeted floors, make sure to vacuum at least once a week. Removing any extra clutter you don’t need and dusting your home can cut back on any added chance of those dust mites sticking around.
Signs and symptoms of dust mites:
- Red, itchy skin
- Postnasal drip
- Worsening of asthma
How to get rid of dust mites:
- Wash fabrics and clothing in hot water.
- Dry sheets and pillowcases on high heat.
- Use steam cleaners for carpets, rugs, and furniture.
- Remove unnecessary clutter or knickknacks.
- Dusting shelving and furniture regularly
Many human allergies are triggered by pet dander. “Dander” is like dandruff and are loosened, tiny flecks of animal skin. Allergens from pets are a result of pet dander, saliva, and urine. For example, a pet licking its’ fur, going to the bathroom, or shedding old skin can result in the transmission of allergens into the air causing an allergic reaction in people such as sneezing, a stuffy nose, itchy eyes, and asthmatic symptoms. A way you can manage dander in your home is to make sure your pet’s cage, crate, kennel, litterbox, etc. are regularly cleaned out and sanitized. Allowing a cat’s litterbox or a dog’s crate to go uncleaned can lead to the buildup of bacteria, germs, and dander increasing the risk of allergens spreading throughout your home. Vacuuming carpeted flooring and mopping hardwood flooring can limit the amount of dander lying in your home.
Signs of pet dander:
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy eyes
- Asthmatic symptoms
- Shortness of breath or wheezing
How to get rid of pet dander:
- Regularly clean out litterboxes, dog crates, or kennels.
- Vacuum carpeted flooring.
- Mop hardwood flooring.
- Bathe your pets.
- Take allergy medication.
Molds are a type of fungus. Approximately 300,000 or more variety of fungus exists. Almost every home contains at least some small amount of mold which reproduces and spreads through mold spores. Mold spores are responsible for the spreading and initial growth of mold. They can spread quickly through the air, latch onto clothing or shoes, or even the fur on pets. These spores can enter our noses or reach our lungs, potentially causing allergic reactions such as severe wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath. Indoor molds thrive in damp environments, such as bathrooms or basements. Make sure that any leaks in roofing or piping are repaired soon. Keeping a dehumidifier in rooms that tend to feel humid or damp (such as a basement) is a good idea. Additionally, rooms such as basements and bathrooms require some sort of ventilation in order to prevent mold or mildew from growing.
Signs of mold:
- Watery/itchy eyes
- Tingling/burning feeling in skin
- Asthmatic symptoms
- Shortness of breath
How to prevent mold:
- Eliminate any moisture or humidity in your home.
- Use a dehumidifier.
- Ventilate basements and bathrooms.
- Check for leaks in roofing or piping.
- Make sure drainage pipes and gutters on the outside of the house are draining properly.
While household allergens are incredibly common, there are steps that you can take in order to prevent them. We’ve provided this quick guide in hopes of helping you get on the path to an allergen-free home!
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