Winter is on it's way, and allergies don't stop there. Here are some room by room tips to help you cope with winter allergies!
Bedrooms (number one important allergen is the house dust mite) 1. Encase your pillows and bedding (mattress and box spring) with tight allergen-impermeable slip covers that "seal in" indoor house dust mites if you have allergic sensitivities to this powerful indoor allergen 2. Dust mite levels in mattresses are more closely linked with asthma attacks 3. Wash bedding in very hot water every 7-14 days 4. Remember to reduce dust collectors, particularly in the bedroom, such as drapes, horizontal blinds (tend to trap dust easily and more problematic to clean them), non-washable items (stuffed toys) 5. Washable window shades are preferred 6. Unpacking of winter clothing may have accumulated dust and mildew from open storage in basement or attic areas 7. Try and keep pets out of the bedroom if you have pet allergies
BathroomsLook for problem areas with excess mildew and molds, leaking faucets, damp carpets and/or rugs
Kitchen1. Exposure to household cleaning agents, aerosols, cleaners, cockroach traps 2. Limit candle usage 3. Check refrigerator drip pans for excess mildew and moisture 4. "Always open the window or run an exhaust fan, when you're cleaning in an enclosed space, you must always have good ventilation," says Pramod S. Kelkar, MD, chair of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology's Cough Taskforce.
Living Areas1. Smoke from fireplace, chemicals from carpeting and furnishings, pet hair and dander 2. Avoid scented candles and potpourri 3. Use a HEPA air cleaner (either room model or central HVAC) to remove unwanted airborne pet allergens (cat, dog hair) 4. Even if you're not the one out of ten allergy sufferers allergic to pets, your household pets are still quite capable of bringing outdoor hidden allergens indoors on their skin and fur 5. Cover air vents with allergen filters 6. Keep humidity in check - don't over do it with trying to over humidify your home. Get a hygrometer and measure humidity inside, try and keep it less than 40-45% to avoid a buildup of mold spores and dust mites (they love excess humidity). 7. Avoid excessive amounts of house plants if you have sensitivities to mold spores 8. Hardwood floors and tile are better than wall to wall carpets and heavy rug 9. Vacuum frequently with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter in the vacuum cleaner which will able to catch many allergy-irritating particles (hopefully this can be done by non allergic individual) 10. Keep out of rooms recently vacuumed or dusted for about 30 minutes to let the "dust settle"
Remodeling, renovations and decorating your home1. Try to choose products made with real wood and low-VOC sealants 2. If you must use carpeting in your home, go for ones that are free of formaldehyde and use allergy-friendly paints 3. Open the windows to properly ventilate the home
GarageExposure to chemicals, paints, mildew, fumes and gardening products
Additional tips1. Control your stress during the frantic holiday period 2. Learn coping and stress management strategies (yoga, meditation) if you are one of over 17 million with asthma. Holiday stress can tighten respiratory passages and aggravate asthma. 3. Lastly, don't forget if you have allergies and/or asthma have your emergency medications on hand at all times
Get some more expert advice from the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at http://www.aaaai.org/patients/topicofthemonth/1107/ and http://www.aaaai.org/winterallergy/2006/as well as from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology at: http://www.acaai.org/public/indoor/indoor.htm
Dr. Clifford W. Bassett is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the Long Island College Hospital and on the faculty of NYU School of Medicine. He is the current vice chair for public education committee of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. No information in this blog is intended as medical advice to any reader or intended to diagnose or treat any medical condition.