Spring is associated with higher amounts of pollen and a higher burden of allergies. But allergens are lurking at home all year. Instead of only paying attention during spring cleaning, year-round efforts to clean allergens from your home can substantially lower your symptoms of if you’re allergic to these common indoor allergens.
Vacuum and Dust Often
It’s crucial to dust and vacuum regularly to limit the buildup of dust mites and animal dander, two of the most common indoor allergens. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to avoid recirculation of these allergens. Consider a robotic vacuum to keep dust off the floor between vacuum sessions.
Resist the urge to open windows during the spring season, as it lets pollen into the home. For those with a pollen allergy of any kind (tree, grass, weed, mold), it is recommended to keep windows at home closed at all times and to keep windows closed while driving. If you go outside for a walk or other outdoor activity, shower before going to bed. Otherwise, you will bring that pollen into your bed with you. Consider a HEPA air filter in your bedroom and other areas, as they may help decrease allergen particles.
Maintain Clean Bedding
Dust mites are a very common allergen. These microscopic insects thrive in Florida’s humid environment. They also live in upholstery and materials such as bedding, blankets, drapes, decorative pillows and stuffed toys.
To combat dust mites, wash sheets weekly in hot water. Consider getting rid of as much carpeting and upholstered furniture from your home as possible. Good alternatives are tile or wood flooring and leather couches.
Use allergen-proof covers on your mattress and all pillows on your bed to ensure dust mites can’t burrow into these materials. Additionally, a dehumidifier set between 30 to 45 percent may help control dust mite populations.
Pets and Pests
We love our pets and hate any pests, and both produce allergens. When it comes to pets, dog and cat dander are common allergens. Although marketed as such, “hypoallergenic” animals don’t produce less allergens than non-hypoallergenic animals.
If you know you’re allergic to pet dander, strict animal avoidance is recommended. The next best thing is to control the animal dander. Don’t allow the animal in areas where you will have lots of contact, such as the couch and bedroom. HEPA filters throughout the home may help.
When it comes to pests, cockroach droppings are a common allergen. Practice pest management strategies: make sure food is properly stored, seal cracks and crevices in your home and put out gel bait if you see droppings.
Although allergen avoidance is the No. 1 recommendation to decrease allergy symptoms, it may be impossible to completely avoid all allergens. Thankfully, there are treatment options, including over-the-counter medications, prescription medications and allergen immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. If you’re unsure if you have allergies, talk to an allergist about getting tested. Once you’re aware of your sensitivities, you can take the proper measures to limit your exposure.
About the Author
Aishah Ali, MD, is a board-certified allergist and immunologist at UCF Health in Lake Nona. She helps patients minimize the impact of their allergies through testing and treatment. Learn more at ucfhealth.com.