The first frost often brings welcome relief from hay fever and the symptoms caused by outdoor allergens. But coming in from the cold means hunkering down with a whole new set of allergy and asthma triggers including dust, pet dander and mold. The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) and its allergist members, doctors who are experts at diagnosing and treating allergies and asthma, offers tips on how to stay sneeze- and sniffle-free indoors this winter.
‧ Reduce moisture in your home to keep dust mites in check. Maintain humidity below 55 percent, and don’t use a humidifier or a vaporizer.
‧ Filter out dust and other allergens by installing a high efficiency furnace filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12, and be sure to change it every three months.
‧ Banish allergens from the bedroom (where you spend a third of your life). “Keep pets and their dander out, and encase mattresses and pillows with dust-mite proof covers,” said allergist Dr. Myron Zitt, ACAAI past president. “Limit curtains – use blinds that can be washed instead.”
‧ Keep it clean. A clean home is especially important for allergy sufferers, who should wear a NIOSH-rated N95 mask while dusting, a chore that should be done regularly. Wash bedding and stuffed animals in hot water every 14 days and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
‧ Turn on the fan or open the window to reduce mold growth in bathrooms (while bathing) and kitchens (while cooking). Wear latex-free gloves and clean visible mold with a five-percent beach solution and detergent.
‧ Don’t overlook the garage if it’s attached to the house. Noxious odors or fumes can trigger asthma, so move insecticides, stored gasoline and other irritants to a shed, and don’t start the car and let it run in the garage.
‧ Box up books and knick-knacks and limit the number of indoor plants. When you are buying new furniture, like chairs or sofas, opt for leather or other nonporous surfaces to make cleaning easier.
Not sure exactly what’s making you miserable? An allergist can help ease your suffering by identifying your allergy or asthma triggers and prescribing treatment. To find an allergist near you visit http://www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
Source: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)