Dr. Roy

Attacking allergens in your home

While there are a multitude of allergy relief medications available today, these medications oftentimes only provide partial relief from allergic reactions. The vast majority of people suffering from chronic allergies can be further relieved simply by targeting common airborne allergens within the home. Prevention is the key.

Mold

Mold grows very easily in moist, dark, humid places. Therefore, sometimes it is can go unnoticed in an area of the home less-traveled, such as under a sink or in the basement or attic. Walls in often-damp basements or other areas are also particularly troublesome.

A few key tips to keep mold in check:

  • Use a dehumidifier or portable air conditioner to keep the relative humidity below 50%.

  • Basements very often need dehumidifiers to keep them dry enough to ward off mold. Remember to empty the units often and clean them to prevent mildew from forming.

  • It is important for bathrooms to have adequate ventilation – use venting fans, always vented to the outside. Turn on the fan when showering to reduce moisture in the air.

  • Air out confined spaces such as closets and bathrooms.

  • Periodically check pipes, faucets and ductwork for leaks.

Airborne Mold

Much of the airborne mould and mould spores comes into a home through doors and windows or on clothing, shoes and pets. Inside it finds an ideal environment to settle and reproduce.

 The greatest reservoir and contribution to airborne mould in the home is the carpet, rugs and other soft fabrics. Carpets provide a fertile environment for non-visible microorganisms (mould, fungi and bacteria) to settle and grow. Even though the carpet may appear clean, it rapidly becomes heavily contaminated and a major reservoir of these microscopic organisms. Carpets in often-damp homes & basements are particularly troublesome. Pets also contribute microorganisms that settle on the carpet and cause familiar pet odours.

Normal activity easily disturbs these organisms and releases the allergens into the air where they remain airborne for hours before settling back on the carpet.

 Toddlers get a particularly heavy exposure when they sit or crawl because the spores tend to settle on the floor. Vacuuming removes dirt but spreads the tiny organisms around. Steam cleaning is equally inefficient. In fact, the added moisture causes spores to germinate and multiply, making matters worse.

Because carpets offer warmth, sound deadening and a “cozier” environment, removing them is not always the best answer.

Dust Mites and Dust

There’s no way to eliminate dust from your home, because dust is made up of things from inside the house itself. Dust mites thrive in the dust in your home, particularly in your bed and bedroom where they readily find the two things they need to survive: food (dead skin cells) and water (humidity). It is the body parts & waste products of these tiny bugs that is a trigger for allergies. The waste products are readily found on surfaces around the home and floating around in the air. Defeating dust comes down to minimizing your home’s exposure to it, as well as knowing how to properly eliminate the dust that inevitably makes it through. Reducing the number of dust mites in your home is the key to reducing their airborne allergens.

  • To eliminate these critters in your bed, use mattresses and bedding that are made with dust mite resistant materials.

  • Mattress and bedding covers can be used with any type of bedding to eliminate even minute dust mite allergens.

  • Consider using an air purifier to target the dust mites and dust mite particles moving around in the air. Choose a properly sized air purifier with a HEPA filter to treat the area.

  • For carpeted areas, vacuum OFTEN with a high-quality vacuum. Use a vacuum with a filtration system specially designed for allergen removal.

  • Keep humidity down – dust mites thrive in high humidity. Do not over humidify in the winter and consider using a dehumidifier if needed – especially in hot, humid months.

  • Reduce the number of stuffed animals, dry flowers, wicker baskets and other dust “collectors” in your home.

  • Keep mattresses and pillows encased in a zippered cover, and change the bed linens at least every week.

Pollen

Pollen can easily find a path into your home through windows and doors, and can be tracked inside by people and pets.

  • Air purifiers are an effective way to eliminate any pollen that enters your home. A properly sized air purifier with a HEPA filter will control pollen in the air.

  • Dust your home with a damp cloth to properly collect and remove the dust and pollen which has settled. Dry cloths will simply brush it into the air.

  • Use a high quality vacuum system to vacuum up pollen off floor surfaces and upholstery.

Pet Dander

Many people choose to live with pets that can give one or more family members slight allergic reactions. A few easy suggestions to reduce reactions:

  • Air purifiers are very effective in eliminating dander & fur in the air.

  • Keep the pets outside as much as possible. If this is not possible, try to limit them to specific areas of the house – preferably areas without carpet or upholstered furniture. In addition, keep pets out of the bedroom.

  • For carpeted areas, vacuum OFTEN with a high-quality vacuum. Consider purchasing a vacuum with a filtration system specially designed for allergen removal.

  • Wash your pets to reduce airborne dander.