Every year, the arrival of allergy season leaves 17.6 million Americans sniffling, sneezing and drying their watery eyes. In Florida, we have mild winters and as a result our pollen season tends to be sooner and last longer than in other parts of the country. If you’re among these allergy sufferers, you know how miserable the symptoms can be. But did you know many offenders lurk inside your home, waiting to trigger your allergies regardless of the season? Learn more about allergy symptoms, indoor allergens and how to reduce them.
Common Indoor Allergy Symptoms
As an allergy suffer, it is easy to blame the allergens themselves for your symptoms. You may have noticed that some people remain immune when exposed to the same allergens that send your immune system into overdrive.
That’s because your immune system is actually to blame. It detects a harmless substance touching your skin or entering your body and – due to genetics, the amount of exposure to the allergen and possibly other factors – your immune system launches a misguided attack against the foreign object. This attack is what causes your allergy symptoms, which may include:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Rash or itchy skin
- Asthma attack
- In severe cases, anaphylaxis (high degree of facial and throat swelling, abdominal cramps, diarrhea, vomiting, confusion and dizziness)
Common Indoor Allergens
Allergens can cause susceptible people to suffer from an allergic reaction. Food allergies, latex allergies, insect bite allergies and many other sorts of allergens cause our immune systems to react.
Many allergens exist and thrive right inside your home. People spend 90 percent or more of their time indoors and these allergens can be a serious threat to your health. Listed below are some of the most common indoor allergens that make people sneeze and sniffle:
- Dust mites
- Cockroaches: When they die, their bodies crumble and mix with the dust in your home.
- Pet dander: Contrary to popular belief, it’s your dog or cat’s dander (tiny flecks of skin) that makes you sneeze, not their fur.
- Mold:Microscopic spores exist in the air everywhere you go. Mold is most often found in showers, sink drains, basements, cellars, crawlspaces, attics and potted plant soil.
- Pollen:Yes, pollen is generated outside, but it clings to your clothing, hair and shoes, catching an easy ride into your home. When you leave the windows open, more pollen is carried in on the breeze.
How to Reduce Allergens
To keep your indoor environment cleaner and reduce your allergy symptoms, follow these tips:
- Replace wall-to-wall carpeting with wood or tile flooring.
- Sweep, mop, vacuum and dust often.
- Encase mattresses and pillows with plastic hypoallergenic covers and wash bedding in hot water once a week.
- Keep food in sealed containers and refrain from keeping uneaten pet food out too long.
- Bathe your pet often and don’t allow him into the bedroom.
- Run an air purifier when you sleep.
- Take off your shoes at the door.
- Change your clothes when you get home and shower before bed.
- Run the kitchen and bathroom exhaust fans when you cook, clean and shower.
- Clean your shower with bleach every few weeks.
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