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Indoor Allergies

As fall arrives, many of us are thankful that our summer time allergies are going away. We can say good-bye to the sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, etc. for a few months. There are others though who may find that their allergy symptoms are not relieved.sneeze
Current research has shown that people spend almost 90% of their time indoors. Many people have allergic reactions to indoor triggers with dust, mold, and animals being the top three.
• Dust. Allergic reactions to dust are actually caused by our reaction to dust mites. Their droppings and remains become airborne and cause allergy symptoms in people who are sensitive to them.
• Mold. Molds thrive in damp, humid areas such as basements and bathrooms. Once the mold spores begin to bloom and grow and get into the air, they can trigger allergic reactions.
• Pets. Many people believe that they are allergic to the pet’s hair when it is actually it is a substance in the dead skin flakes (dander) that causes the allergic reaction

It is not realistic to think that we can totally eliminate these indoor triggers but there are actions we can take to control the amounts that are present in our homes. Here are a few suggestions:
• Dust. The best way to deal with dust allergies is to simply reduce exposure to dust. If you have dust allergies, you will want to wear a mask when you are cleaning or have someone else do the cleaning for you! A couple of easy ways to reduce dust in your home: wash bedding in hot water once a week, use plastic dust-proof covers on your mattress, box springs, and pillows. If you have carpeting in your home, vacuum once or twice a week and vacuum upholstered furniture often. Remove stuffed animals and drapes. Wash throw rugs in hot water. When it is time to replace flooring – look at cork, hardwood, bamboo, or tile which tend to be more allergy friendly.
• Mold. The most efficient preventative for mold growth is to control moisture. Watch out for wet spots and condensation. Fix leaky plumbing as soon as it is discovered. Increase ventilation and air circulation in your home. Use a dehumidifier if necessary. Indoor humidity should be below 60%. There are inexpensive humidity detectors that you can purchase and use year round to keep an eye on the humidity levels in your home.
• Pets. Some might say that the only way to control this trigger is to remove the pet from the home. However, more realistic steps to take include not allowing the pet in the bedroom. Bedding can become a trap for allergens that are difficult to dislodge. Use a HEPA air filter in your home at all times. Give your pet a weekly bath to reduce the allergen count. While dander and saliva are the source of cat and dog allergens, urine is the source of allergens from rabbits, hamsters, mice and guinea pigs – so ask a non-allergic family member to clean the animal’s cage.A Tabby Cat with Green Eyes
If these suggestions do not help control your allergies, you may choose to visit an allergist. An allergist can help discover what indoor allergens are causing your symptoms and educate you to make changes to avoid them. The right care can help you manage your allergies and feel better year round.

Author: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension Franklin County
Reviewed by Lisa Barlage, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Ross & Vinton Counties

Sources:
Indoor Air Quality: Dust and Molds http://ohioline.osu.edu/cd-fact/pdf/0191.pdf
Tips to control Pet Allergies http://www.health.harvard.edu/press_releases/tips-to-control-pet-allergies
Winter Allergies http://www.webmd.com/allergies/winter-allergies
Indoor Allergens: Tips to Remember http://www.aaaai.org/conditions-and-treatments/library/at-a-glance/indoor-allergens.aspx

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