Considering that 40 to 50 million Americans deal with allergies of one kind or another, it’s not surprising that so many are constantly looking for ways to reduce their impact. After all, allergies are more than just a minor irritation; they can have a very negative impact on a person’s day-to-day life, causing reduced productivity at work and generally making the days difficult to get through. Even mild cases of allergies can cause enough problems for a person to make them dread this time of year – and prompt them to seek solace from its effects.
Many people turn to things like allergy shots and antihistamines, and those treatments can help a great deal. However, there are other ways to mitigate and otherwise lessen the effects and power of allergens. Such efforts can – and should – begin in the home, where people spend the majority of their time. By using the following tips and advice about reducing allergens in your home, you can take control of your allergy suffering and begin experiencing a greater degree of relief.
Dust Mites in the Home
One of the biggest culprits affecting indoor air quality and allergy suffering are dust mites. These white, eight-legged creatures are under a third of a millimeter in size and are invisible to the naked eye. However, they cause allergic reactions in over 20 million Americans. They can be found all over the house, from the bedroom to the living room, and must be dealt with if indoor allergies are to be reined in to any reasonable degree. HEPA air purifiers can effectively deal with dust mites, but basic housekeeping can enhance those effects, reducing the presence of dust mites in your home dramatically.
Dust mites occur naturally and can appear in nearly all homes. Humidity is the most important factor in determining whether a house has high concentrations of dust mites. Dust mites do not drink water like we do; they absorb moisture from the air. In areas with low humidity, like deserts, dust mites cannot survive.
House dust mites are microscope bugs that primarily live on dead skin cells regularly shed from humans and their animal pets. Dust mites are generally harmless to most people. They don't carry diseases, but they can cause allergic reactions in asthmatics and others who are allergic to their feces.
Skin cells and scales, commonly called dander, are often concentrated in lounging areas, mattresses, frequently used furniture and associated carpeted areas, often harbor large numbers of these microscopic mites. Since the average human sloughs off 1/3 ounce (10 grams) of dead skin a week. That gives dust mites a lot to eat. Cats and dogs create far more dander for dust mites to eat. A typical mattress can contain tens of thousands of dust mites. Nearly 100,000 mites can live in one square yard of carpet. A single dust mite produces about 20 waste droppings each day each containing a protein to which many people are allergic. The proteins in that combination of feces and shed skin are what cause allergic reactions in humans. Depending on the person and exposure, reactions can range from itchy eyes to asthma attacks.
If you suffer from allergies and have carpet in the majority of your home, you might want to rethink that. If possible, you should rip out that carpeting and replace it with hardwood floors. Carpets are perfect breeding grounds and refuges for dust mites. Homes that use hardwood floors tend to be easier to keep under control. If removing your carpeting is not possible, then you should be diligent about vacuuming it at least once a week with a high quality vacuum cleaner. Keep in mind, though, that vacuuming will stir them up into the air – that’s where HEPA air purifiers come in. Also you should have your carpets professionally cleaned at least once a year.
Make sure to wash your sheets and pillowcases regularly in hot water to kill any dust mites that might be present. You can also purchase special dust mite proof covers that zip up over your pillows and keep them safe. Similar items are available for covering your entire mattress, and can help a great deal. Every little thing that you do contributes to reducing the effects that these microscopic pests can have on your allergies.
Molds are fungi that can be found both indoors and outdoors. No one knows how many species of fungi exist but estimates range from tens of thousands to perhaps three hundred thousand or more. Molds grow best in warm, damp, and humid conditions, and spread and reproduce by making spores. Mold spores can survive harsh environmental conditions, such as dry conditions, that do not support normal mold growth.
Mold is one of the biggest signs of allergens in the home. If you start noticing the beginnings of mold growing on surfaces in your home, clean them promptly with bleach. Seeing mold means that mold spores are profuse in the air and that you are inhaling it regularly. Keeping it under control by scrubbing it with bleach and using a well-designed HEPA air purifier can help improve the indoor air quality of your home dramatically.
Take these simple precautions to help in the prevention of mold.
Keep humidity levels as low as you can—no higher than 50%--all day long. An air conditioner or dehumidifier will help you keep the level low. Bear in mind that humidity levels change over the course of a day with changes in the moisture in the air and the air temperature, so you will need to check the humidity levels more than once a day.
Use an air conditioner or a dehumidifier during humid months.
Be sure the home has adequate ventilation, including exhaust fans.
Add mold inhibitors to paints before application.
Clean bathrooms with mold killing products.
Do not carpet bathrooms and basements.
Remove or replace previously soaked carpets and upholstery.
People with pet allergies have over-sensitive immune systems. They can react to harmless proteins in the pet's urine, saliva or dander (dead skin cells). The symptoms that result are an allergic reaction. The substances that cause allergic reactions are allergens.
Pet allergens can collect on furniture and other surfaces. The allergens will not lose their strength for a long time. Sometimes the allergens may remain at high levels for several months and cling to walls, furniture, clothing and other surfaces. Pet hair is not an allergen. It can collect dander, urine and saliva. It also can carry other allergens like dust and pollen.
Cat and dog allergens are everywhere. Pet allergens are even in homes and other places that have never housed pets. This is because people can carry pet allergens on their clothing. Also, allergens can get into the air when an animal is petted or groomed. Pet allergens can also be stirred into the air where the allergens have settled. This can happen during dusting, vacuuming or other household activities. Once airborne, the particles can stay suspended in the air for long periods.
Here are some simple ways to minimize pet allergy symptoms.
Try not to hug and kiss pets if you are allergic to them.
Designate your bedroom as a pet-free zone, allowing you hours of dander-free sleep. Keeping pets out of your bedroom can reduce allergy symptoms since you spend about eight hours every day in this room. So can keeping your pet off of upholstered furniture.
Have someone who doesn't have allergies brush the pet regularly—outside, not indoors.
Use a HEPA vacuum cleaner or use a double or micro-filter bag in the vacuum to reduce the amount of pet allergen present in carpeting that leaks back into the room air.
Use a HEPA air purifier, which can be a big help in removing unwanted allergenic particles from the air.
Remove carpeting and rugs, which can trap pet dander and other allergens.
If you are a pet lover, though, getting rid of your beloved pet is certainly out of the question. However, dander can infiltrate all areas of a home, and the only truly efficient way to remove it from the air is by using a HEPA air purifier.
By keeping these basic tips in mind, you can help keep allergy-producing particles at bay in your home. Escaping from allergens by staying indoors obviously isn’t practical, but keeping the air in your home as clean as possible can drastically improve your health and reduce your allergy suffering. Clean Air Plus is happy to provide some of the best HEPA air purifiers around. Our lineup can help with allergy relief in ways that other products can’t hope to. The allergy symptoms that you and your family contend with can be greatly reduced by using a HEPA air purifier now.
Clean Air Plus is a veteran and family owned small business. We represent the leading manufacturers in HEPA filtration including Austin Air, IQAir, Amaircare, Oransi and Airpura. Shop online or call one of our friendly experts at 888.247.1147. We'll be happy to help.