Regardless of the season — in or out of doors — having allergies means being mindful of when and where a problem can arise. Today's energy-efficient and tightly constructed houses and buildings, for example, tend to trap humidity and can lead to a higher concentration of indoor allergens and pollutants that can activate allergies. At home, indoor allergens such as mold and mildew can collect in moist areas, and dust mites thrive in pillows, bedding, carpets and stuffed toys. At home or at work, there are ways to reduce your exposure and limit your suffering.
- Use hypoallergenic pillows, mattress pads and comforters made from washable materials. Down and feather pillows appear to collect dust mites less quickly than some synthetic materials, but synthetic pillow materials are still preferred because these can be washed in hot water to thoroughly eliminate mites. Avoid stuffed toys that can’t be washed in hot water.
- Wash bedding once a week in hot water to kill dust mites. Cover a fiberfill comforter in a duvet that can be removed for laundering.
- Have your house cleaned and thoroughly dusted regularly by a family member without allergies, or if possible, by hired help. It also is a good idea to have your air-conditioning and heating vents professionally cleaned occasionally, because they can harbor allergy-causing molds.
- Most people with moderate to severe allergies to animal dander cannot keep fur-bearing pets. If you or a family member has only mild allergic reactions, it may be possible to have a pet as long as the pet is kept outdoors. Keeping a pet indoors but limiting what rooms the pet is allowed to enter does not appear to be a successful strategy, since air (and dander in the air) circulates freely within a home. It may be helpful to wash a dog or cat to remove surface dander, if bathing is done every several days. Let someone else clean the animal's box to reduce your exposure.
- Even after you get rid of a pet, dander may remain on the surface of upholstered furniture, draperies and carpets for months. It will be necessary to clean the area thoroughly and to launder or replace draperies, bedding and carpeting to rid the house of the dander.
- If you use humidifiers in your house, be sure to clean them with diluted bleach after each use to prevent mold from forming. Check the manufacturer's instructions for tips on preventing bacterial growth.