Allergens

Allergies, also known as allergic diseases; are a number of conditions caused by hypersensitivity of the immune system to typically harmless substances in the environment. These diseases include hay fever, food allergies, atopic dermatitis, allergic asthma, and anaphylaxis. Symptoms may include red eyes, an itchy rash, sneezing, a runny nose, shortness of breath, or swelling. Food intolerances and food poisoning are separate conditions.
When it’s finally time to store away your winter coats and boots, it is also a good time to rid your home of the allergens that accumulated over the winter, an allergist suggests. “If you are not someone who regularly undertakes spring cleaning; consider tackling it this year.
“A thorough cleaning helps get rid of things like dust, mold; pet dander and other allergens, which may have to make you miserable all winter. Many people think spring and fall are when their seasonal allergies kick in. They might not realize indoor allergens can also cause chaos with your nasal passages and lungs and that a thorough cleaning can help,” Mahr explained in an ACAAI news release.

High-efficiency particulate air

Pet dander, fur, and saliva are among the allergens that can build up during winter. The best way to control them is to vacuum often and wash upholstery; including your pet’s bed. Never let your pet in the bedroom. Change your air filters every three months and choose ones with a MERV rating of 11 or 12, Mahr advised. Fight dust mites by vacuuming regularly with a cyclonic vacuum which spins dust and dirt away from the floor or one equipped with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.

Mold is another major indoor allergen typically found in the basement, bathroom, and kitchen. Reducing moisture is the key to eliminating it. Use bathroom fans and always wipe away any standing water immediately. Use detergent and water to scrub visible mold from surfaces, and then dry surfaces completely. Keep your home’s humidity below 60 % and clean your gutters regularly to prevent leaks.

As tempting as that fresh, warm air outside is, keep your home’s windows closed during spring; Mahr suggested because breezes can bring pollen through open windows. Keep your car windows closed too; use your air conditioning. Mahr pointed out that allergy symptoms can appear before spring actually arrives. By starting to take your allergy medications two to three weeks before symptoms usually begin; you can avoid severe symptoms. If over-the-counter allergy medicine does not help, talk with an allergist, he said.