An allergy occurs where a foreign object, known as an allergen, causes the immune system to respond abnormally. The resulting symptoms can vary in severity depening on the sensitivity of the person and the allergen. Food and medical allergies are common and can normally be easily avoided. However allergens that are found within the home are not so easy to see and can cause reactions on a regular basis if not controlled. Allergens in the form of particles include mould spores, pollen, pet dander and dust. These foreign objects can all be inhaled, irritating the nasal passages, throat and lungs. During the warmer months when the plants are releasing pollen into the air, seasonal allergies like hay fever can also occur, making other allergies and underlying conditions such as asthma worse. Fortunately there are a few helpful hints and tips that can ease indoor allergies at home.
Where the allergens are found in the air, personal hygiene can help to reduce the number of affectants. Particles will attach to clothing and are then brought into the home. Ensuring that washing is aired inside can help to reduce the risk of pollen, dust and spores being brought inside. It is also advisable that the person who is affected by allergies regularly showers and changes their clothes when they have been outside.
Using a damp cloth when cleaning will help to keep dust, pollen and pet dander on the cloth and reduce the number of particles allowed to float in the air. This is especially important when cleaning air filters and vents.
It is also a good idea to invest in a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter to use when cleaning the carpets. Using a hoover on soft furnishings such as sofas and beds will also help to reduce allergens.
Curtains, cushions, pillows and duvets should be washed regularly, but remembering to avoid drying them outside. It is also advisable to use a non-biological washing powder, as biological powders can cause allergic reactions such as itchy skin and eczema-type symptoms in people who already have allergies.
It is important to keep the air circulating around the home, and in the warmer months air conditioners and fans are often used to help keep that air cool. Make sure that any fans and vents are kept free of dust and pet dander by cleaning them with a damp cloth.
Keeping windows and doors closed will also help to reduce the number of outside allergens entering the home.
The type of medication taken depends largely on the symptoms of the allergic reaction. However, where the symptoms are similar to hay fever; itching skin, watering and puffy eyes, blocked or runny nose, over-the-counter medications including antihistamines, nasal sprays, throat lozenges and eye drops should be taken at regular intervals to help reduce the symptoms.
It may be necessary for medical advice as sinus problems can quickly occur when the nasal passages are irritated.
As well as the above mentioned, there are a few general tips that a sufferer can follow to help ease indoor allergies.
• Keep pets outdoors as much as possible to reduce pet dander (hair) being in the home.
• Do not let anyone smoke in the home as this can aggravate allergies.
• Line the nostrils with vaseline to prevent particles from irritating the nasal passages.
There is no true way to avoid allergic reactions to airborne particles, but by following these simple hints and tips you can reduce the severity of the symptoms and live comfortably.