13 Ways to Allergy-Proof Your Home
Sneeze much lately?
Is your throat scratchy? Eyes watering, too?
You're not alone: Allergies affect more than 20 percent of Americans.
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Medications can help relieve allergy symptoms, but removing irritants from your home is a much more effective way to stop your stuffy nose, headache, itchy eyes, and shortness of breath, according to the Allergy and Asthma Network/Mothers of Asthmatics (AANMA).
Read on for the most effective ways to clear the air.
Find Out What You're Allergic to First
Visiting an allergist will help you focus your preventative measures. The most common offenders are dust mites, mold, pollens, and pet dander. "There's no point in making changes at home if you don't address your particular allergies," says Laurie Ross, editor of Allergy and Asthma Today. "Who knows, you might be allergic to cats, and here you are keeping your windows closed."
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Then Start With the Bedroom
Once you've established what causes your allergies, work your way around the house eliminating those specific allergens, starting with your bedroom. "If dust is one of your problems, cover your mattress and pillows with zip-on dust mite covers. You spend so much of your day in bed—if you can just get a good night's sleep, you'll be off to a great start," says Ross.
Get Rid of Wall-to-Wall Carpet and Padding
If at all possible, replace them with hardwood or other impervious flooring, especially in the bedroom. "Just about every allergen accumulates in carpet—dust, pollen, pet dander. Walking across carpet re-releases all of that into the air," says Ross.
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Avoid Tracking in Trouble
Lay down two doormats at each entryway—one outside, one inside—to keep outdoor irritants from finding their way inside. Or, have your family and guests remove their shoes when they enter, so they don't spread allergens around.
Upgrade Your Vacuum Cleaner
If it doesn't have a HEPA filter, switch to one that does. They're specially made to trap particles as tiny as 0.3 microns—which means they'll be able to capture most allergens.