Reducing Allergens in the Home

Fortunately for us, they are too small for us to see, and make us cringe even more. Dust mites are something we all live with.

Most of us co-exist with dust mites just fine. Dust mites and allergy sufferers, not so much. Allergens from dust mites cause allergy symptoms to flare up–symptoms such as sinusitis, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, itchy/watery eyes and other symptoms.

Ways to “Mite-Proof” Your Home

A recent ABC News Health article provided some tips from allergists on making your home more comfortable for you and less comfy for dust mites and other allergens.

  • Encase your bedding. Encasements could run a bit costly depending on the brand you purchase and the size of your mattress, but it is a small price to pay for allergy relief. Encase your box springs, mattresses, pillows and even your comforters in “mite-proof” covers from a reputable company. Allergists also recommend weekly washing of linens and stuffed animals.
  • Pick smooth, rather than porous surfaces when shopping for chairs, couches and car seats. It is easier and takes less effort to clean dust off smooth surfaces than porous ones.
  • Keep humidity low. Dust mites thrive in moisture, so the last thing you want to do is go overboard with vaporizers and humidifiers. Keeping humidity between 35 and 50 percent–the lower, the better- will keep dust mites away.
  • Perform regular maintenance of your heating and air conditioning units. Allergists recommend a thorough cleaning and suggest servicing your units every six months. Make sure that fireplaces and gas appliances properly vent to the outdoors.
  • Get rid of curtains and other fabric or fiber based decorations. Carpets, heavy drapes and rugs are a haven for dust mites. If you cannot remove carpets or do not wish to part with your rugs and curtains, frequently vacuum them using a HEPA filter. Allergy sufferers should steer clear or wear an N95 particulate mask during vacuuming and for at least two hours after vacuuming.
  • Individuals who are very susceptible to allergies should use air filters to keep indoor air clean, as well as maintain a smoke-free environment. It is a good idea to keep pets out of the bedroom.

In your bedroom, place a HEPA air filter with a clean air delivery rate (CADR) according to the room size. Install a high-efficiency disposable filter, preferably a MERV 11 or 12, in your furnace and air conditioner. These types of filters can be changed every few months.

Call Your Doctor if Necessary

Following these tips should help you obtain some relief from your allergy symptoms. If your symptoms persist even after making these suggested changes, make an appointment with an allergist or an ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialist. Your doctor may prescribe some medication to treat your symptoms or conduct tests to determine if you have a condition other than an allergy.

 

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