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Sneezing, Itchy Eyes Eased by Inspecting Your Home for Allergens

Sneezing. Coughing. Running nose. Itching red eyes. Sound familiar??Up to 50-million Americans each year experience these symptoms due to allergies. In the Ohio valley, we seem to have more than our share of allergens.

Even though we can’t control the allergens in our environment, according to many allergists, we can impact the sniffing, sneezing and wheezing within our homes.home-allergens-inspection-HomeMD

Common household allergens such as dust,?dust?mites,?mold, pet?dander, and cockroaches can trigger allergies, explains pediatric allergist Dr. Mary Lasley. “Simple changes in your routine house cleaning can reduce allergies and help your family live more comfortably,” she adds.

1. Control?Ventilation?and Filter the Air
Simply opening?windows?to let indoor allergens out of the home can bring outdoor allergens such as pollen and?mold?spores into the house. Instead,

  • use heat and air conditioning to clean, circulate and dehumidify the air in the home.
  • use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove airborne allergens, such as pet?dander, can lessen the amount of circulating allergens.

Just remember, dust mite and cockroach allergens are generally heavy particles that do not stay suspended in the air and settle quickly, so?air?filters?or air purifiers do not work well for these allergens.

2. Reduce Moisture

Dust?mites?and?molds?thrive only in high?humidity?areas. Inspect your home’s ?relative?humidity?level and try to maintain below 55 percent by using heat and/or air-conditioning equipment consistently and using a dehumidifier where necessary – doing so will discourage dust mite and mold growth. Inspect and repair all roof and plumbing leaks to prevent mold.

3. Regular Cleaning
Cleaning is the best way to reduce allergens. Done regularly, cleaning stops allergens from accumulating, which helps minimize allergy and/or asthma symptoms. Pay special attention to the bedroom since most exposure to dust mites is while sleeping – 60 percent of dust mite allergen is found in mattresses and bedding. In order to control these allergens, wash bed linens in hot?water?(at least 130 F) weekly and vacuum mattresses regularly.?Comforters, blankets and curtains should be washed frequently. Encase pillows, mattresses and box springs in “allergen-control” covers, and freeze or wash stuffed animals weekly in hot?water?(at least 130 F).

  1. Clean and disinfect wet, warm areas – such as?kitchens?and?bathrooms?- weekly to stop mold growth.
  2. Smooth floors should be vacuumed, dusted and wet mopped weekly. When sweeping, take care not to circulate dust from the floor into the air.
  3. Vacuum carpet and rugs at least once a week – twice a week in bedrooms and high-traffic areas. Use a well-functioning?vacuum?cleaner?that has adjustable brushes, and bears the?Carpet?and?Rug?Institute’sSeal of Approval (SOA). These are?vacuum?cleaners?that have been tested for and meet strict standards for removing soil and containing the dust within the bag and the vacuum cleaner.?The SOA program endorses only vacuum cleaners that perform each of the following three tasks well: soil removal, dust containment (without putting the dust back into the air) and carpet appearance retention.
  4. Vacuum upholstered furniture regularly, and clean hard furniture with a damp cloth. A damp cloth should be used on?window?treatments, windowsills and window frames, ceiling fans, light fixtures, and storage units as well. Dust also can be reduced by storing?books?and?knick-knacks?in closed cabinets – doing so leaves fewer places for dust to settle and makes cleaning easier.

With just a little modification in your routine house cleaning chores, you can help control the allergens in your home- even if Mother Nature continues to antagonize our outdoor environment.

If you think you may have other environmental concerns in your home, you can visit our website atwww.homemd.comfor more information on air quality inspections.

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