Allergy Avoidance Tips

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Dust is the most common allergen. It is a combination of several different antigens like cockroach and dust mites, which may live in mattresses, pillows, and carpets. Here are some things you can do to limit dust mites in your home:

  • Change air filters often or install an air conditioner to reduce humidity.
  • Use a hypoallergenic zippered dust mite covers on your mattresses, box springs and pillows.
  • Once a week wash your sheets and blankets in very hot water to kill dust mites.
  • Remove carpets, if possible, or vacuum frequently with high-filtered bags that capture dust mites.
  • Close your closets and desk drawers

Several sources, including websites and the media, report on pollen counts, but it’s important to interpret a pollen count relative to your location. Days that have moderate and high pollen levels may cause your symptoms to be more severe, so it’s best that you consider more aggressive avoidance measures on those days take your prescribed antihistamine before you develop symptoms.

New Orleans area Pollen Counts: http://www.weather.com/forecast/pollen/l/New+Orlea...

Plant pollen grains are microscopic and can easily be inhaled, causing an allergic response in some people. The type of plan pollen that causes allergy symptoms is lightweight, abundant and small, which allows it to remain airborne and travel tens to hundreds of miles on wind currents. Plant allergens come from weeds, grasses and trees.

It is best to stay indoors during high pollen count days to avoid inhaling plant pollens, though that is not always practical. Dry and windy days are worse, while rainy days tend to bring down airborne pollens. Here are a few things you can do to reduce your pollen exposure:

  • Close windows at home, especially during high pollen levels
  • Keep windows in your car closed and set the air conditioner to the recirculate setting
  • Change air-conditioning filters often
  • Minimize outdoor activity when pollen levels are highest, such as in the morning between 5:00 and 10:00 a.m. The late afternoon or after a heavy rain typically have the lowest pollen levels
  • Shower and change clothing after being outdoors
  • Use HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filters in your home and office
  • Do not hang clothes to dry outside on clothing lines

Molds, also known as fungus, are microscopic, plant-like organisms that grow in colonies on various substances. Molds give off spores that cause allergies. If you are allergic to one mold, there is an 85% chance that you are also allergic to other molds. A mold allergy causes symptoms year-round and can occur even though the pollen count is low. Mold grows in dark and damp (humidity >60%) environments, and spores peak in the warm summer months. Inside, molds are typically found in bathrooms, under sinks, or even on houseplants, so eliminate dampness and darkness. Outside molds flourish on dead plants and in shaded areas, and outside mold is more prevalent than inside. Here are some modifications you can make to reduce your exposure to mold:

  • Avoid dark, enclosed areas like garages, barns, basements, crawl spaces, woodpiles, and fallen leaves.
  • If you have a basement, keep it dry and ventilated to reduce moisture and darkness.
  • Be sure to vent your clothes dryer to the outside.
  • Keep the humidity in your home below 50% with air conditioners and dehumidifiers.
  • Regularly examine refrigerators, air-conditioning vents and humidifiers for mold growth and clean with mold and mildew remover.
  • Clean out the refrigerator often, discard spoiling food promptly, and empty its water pan regularly.
  • Use the exhaust fan over the stove and in the bathroom to remove extra humidity.
  • Use machine-washable bath mats in the bathroom and wash and dry at least weekly.
  • After showers, stretch out the curtain to deter mildew.
  • When watering houseplants, immediately empty the water that seeps into the saucers under the plants.
  • Store firewood outdoors.
  • Keep curtains open to allow drying sunlight to shine in.
  • Rake fallen leaves in your yard
  • Choose “hypoallergenic” pillows and mattresses, avoiding those that contain foam rubber
  • Consider using a HEPA filter to pick up any mold spores that enter the air, especially if you also use a humidifier
  • Use mold-resistant paint in mildewed areas
  • Remove any construction materials that have suffered water damage.
  • Promptly repair any plumbing leaks, especially under cabinets.

Allergies to “furry” animals is not only caused by their hair but also their dander, saliva and urine. While removing the animal from the house is the most effective method of controlling an animal allergy, that is not always practical. Even if that is the route you take, it may require an additional 3-6 months to decrease the animal particles to an acceptable level.

People who are allergic to their pets will likely not experience complete relief from using medication and immunotherapy (allergy shots) alone, but if you cannot part with your pet, here are some things you can do to reduce your symptoms:

  • Limit close exposure to your pet
  • Do not allow your pet to sleep in your bed or even be in the bedroom
  • Bathe your pet often
  • Vacuum floors and upholstered fabric often
  • Wash your pet and vacuum often
  • Keep your pet outside as much as possible

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