Indoor allergens can cause problems for your family year-round. Chronic sinus inflammation, skin issues, or even behavioral problems can often be attributed to allergies, and the symptoms can interfere with the quality of your sleep and your daily life. If you want to control your symptoms without the side effects of medication, you’ll need to eliminate the source of the problem. Here are the most likely culprits and some tips for combatting them.
Dust and Dust Mites
Image via Flickr by tinafranklindg
One of the most common, and often overlooked, sources of allergy symptoms is probably collecting around your baseboards and on top of your window frames. Dust is made up of minuscule bits of plants, dirt, fibers, insects, skin, and other matter, any one of which could be triggering your allergies. Dust mites are tiny creatures that thrive in dust, and their droppings are the most common source of asthma and allergy symptoms. They love dead human skin flakes and humidity and tend to settle in your bedding and rugs.
The biggest step to combat dust in your home is encasing your mattress and pillows in dust-proof covers. Keep dust down by washing your bedding regularly and vacuuming rugs thoroughly with a HEPA vacuum. Have your ducts professionally cleaned to remove any dust mite nests lurking there, treat your drapes and upholstery with a dust mite treatment, and install a dehumidifier to reduce the moisture content in your indoor air.
Contrary to popular belief, pet dander is not animal hair, but a protein that comes from the pet’s saliva. It’s a sticky substance that coats the hair and can also cling to people’s clothing and shoes, so dander is often present even in homes without pets.
If you are allergic to your best friend, there are some ways to minimize your suffering. Keep pets out of your bedroom and restrict them to rooms without carpeting if possible. Bathe your pets often and wash your hands after touching them. If you can’t keep your animals off your upholstered furniture, at least give them towels to lie on and wash those frequently.
Preventing mold is mostly a matter of controlling moisture in your home. Repair leaks promptly, waterproof your basement if necessary, and keep your gutters in good repair. Fix any ventilation issues that cause moisture to collect in your bathrooms or kitchen. Encourage airflow throughout your home by opening doors and installing ceiling fans as needed. If your home is prone to mold or mildew issues, a dehumidifier would be a good investment.
Like dust mites, the real problem with cockroaches is the droppings, which contain a protein that is a common allergen. If you choose not to use chemicals to control cockroaches, you can discourage them by sealing up cracks in walls, cabinets, doors, and cupboards. Take your trash out often and keep the kitchen floor clean of crumbs and spills that might feed them.
Controlling allergens in your home can feel daunting at first, but once you’ve tackled a few initial tasks, the maintenance work will be fairly simple.