With allergy season in full swing, many sufferers are headed to the drug store to get a little relief from itchy eyes, runny noses and sore throats. But while a dose of antihistamines can provide quick relief, you may also be able keep your symptoms at bay with a few allergy-zapping gadgets around the house.
An air purifier with a high-quality HEPA filter is your first line of defense against allergies in the home. HEPA filters, commonly used in hospitals to prevent the spread of illness, are capable of filtering out 99 percent of allergens and pathogens.
Which model to get will depend on the size of your home. A basic unit, like Hamilton Beach’s True Air Ecoclean Air Purifier ($99.00), can handle rooms up to about 190 square feet, while a more expensive model, like the Rabbit Air MinusA2 ($460), will clean around 815 square feet.
Whichever one you get, there are a few things to consider. For real allergy relief, you’ll want a unit that uses real HEPA filters, not basic cloth filters found in some cheaper units. Second, consider the cost of replacement filters — you might think you’re getting a great deal, only to find that replacing a filter costs nearly as much as a new unit. And finally, HEPA filters alone won’t kill mold and bacteria, so for added defense, you might consider a unit that also uses UV rays alongside a filtration system.
Mold, dust mites and mildew thrive in humidity, so managing your home’s humidity level is an important way to limit the growth of these nasty allergens.
You want to keep your home’s humidity level between 30 and 50 percent, which you can check with a simple humidity monitor. If your humidity level regularly exceeds 50 percent, consider investing in a dehumidifier.Frigidaire sells units starting at $179.
Running your air conditioner regularly will also help keep the humidity down, as water condenses once it hits the cooling coils. So check to see what your humidity levels are with the A/C running before buying a separate dehumidifier.
A poorly constructed vacuum will end up kicking up as much dust as it collects, aggravating your allergies every time you clean. A vacuum with a HEPA filter, such as the ones made by Dyson, keeps dust and mites from recirculating through the air as you clean. Dyson also offers an allergy kit ($70), designed to scrub dust and debris from mattresses, blinds and hard-to-reach places.
Though you might be able to scrub your home of pollen and dust and seal it off from aggravating allergens, at some point you’re going to have to go outside. And when you do, it’s best to go armed with information. There are a number of free apps for smart phones, such as Zyrtec’s AllergyCast for the iPhone or Allergy Tracker for Android, both of which give you up-to-the-minute pollen forecasts, so that you can plan ahead and bring an extra dose of allergy medicine before leaving for work in the morning.