It has been extremely cold around the Atlanta area recently, forcing many of us to stay indoors more than we would like. For many, staying indoors isn’t helping to keep them from feeling sick, it is making them worse, as indoor allergies flair up.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, 40 million people in the United States have indoor allergies, including pet dander, dust mites, mold spores and cockroach allergens.

If your allergies are flaring up, here are some ways you can drastically reduce the number of allergens, and the severity of your flair-ups, in your home:

  1. Eliminate humidity. Warm, humid environments breed mold and dust  mites. Keep your home’s thermostat set to 70 degrees and use a dehumidifier to keep your home’s humidity below 50 percent. Don’t forget to change the filters in your heater and keep your dehumidifier clean.
  2. Ditch the carpet. If at all possible, get rid of carpeting in your home. Hardwood or laminate flooring eliminates the ability for allergens to collect in carpet. This is especially true in older homes and homes with pets. If you rent and cannot change out your flooring, vacuum with a high quality vacuum daily, and keep the vacuum cleaners HEPA filter clean.
  3. Barricade. Creating physical barriers using impermeable covers to encase the pillows, box spring and mattress will prevent that passage of dust mite and pet allergens from escaping and being inhaled.
  4. Exterminate and clean. Pests cause health problems. Vacuuming floors can reduce dust mites, washing draperies and wiping down surfaces regularly. Mice, roaches and other pests also cause major problems for those with allergies. Even pest free homes should have a routine pest control service- remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!

By Rodney M Johnson, MD, Atlanta ENT Allergy Specialist