Last time we discussed how and why seasonal allergies make us sniffle, snort, and in general be miserable. In today’s blog post we’ll learn about common allergic triggers and ways we can help treat ourselves and our homes to help ease unwanted symptoms.
Pollens are tiny particles released from grasses, trees, and other plants and are carried on the wind or by animals to areas where they can reproduce. Unfortunately, many times the pollen ends up in the respiratory tract of humans and starts the allergic cycle as discussed in last week’s blog post. Standard medical treatment for pollen allergy includes oral antihistamines or nasal steroid sprays. Other ways you can help reduce your exposure to pollen:
- Wear eyeglasses or sunglasses while outside
- Shower before going to sleep at night
- Remove shoes before entering the house
- Garden on a day when winds are calmer
- Wipe your dog or cat down with a damp towel before letting into the house
- Clean air-conditioner filters frequently
Having an allergy to pets like cats, dogs, or birds doesn’t mean you’re allergic to hair, fur, or feathers. Dander refers to skin cells being shed by the animal that create allergic symptoms in some people. Animals which groom or preen themselves frequently (like cats or birds) may produce more intense reactions because of saliva particles that get “stuck” to the skin flakes. You can reduce your exposure to animal dander by:
- Wash hands thoroughly after handling your pet.
- Keep ‘Fluffy’ out of the bedroom or off the couch, which helps reduce the amount of skin flakes shed onto room surfaces.
- Frequent vacuuming, preferably with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter
- Clean animal cages frequently and remove litter boxes to more remote areas of the house if possible
- Groom or bathe pets on regular basis *if possible* (cats aren’t too keen on being bathed!)
Dust mites are microscopic insects related to the spider family. The mites feed on the skin cells (dander) of humans and pets and are more prevalent where the environment is warm and humid. They tend to have a high concentration on mattresses, bedding, carpets, upholstered furniture, and curtains. It’s impossible to eliminate dust mites from the home completely, but there are ways to reduce their numbers:
- Use a dehumidifier or air conditioning to reduce the ambient humidity in the home to <50%
- Purchase allergy bedding to encase mattresses and pillowcases
- When cleaning, use a damp cloth instead of “dry dusting”
- Vacuum frequently, preferably with a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter
If possible, remove carpeting and replace with tile or wood/laminate flooring.
In the final installment of the seasonal allergy blog series, we’ll discuss natural remedies which may help reduce your pollen misery! See you next time on “The Bridge”!