Simple Tips for an Allergy Free Home
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, you know how awful the sneezing, coughing, runny nose and sinus headaches can be. The sources of these symptoms come from the outdoors: pollen from trees, flowers and grasses, and leaf mold.
Unfortunately, many people also suffer from year-round – or “perennial allergies” – that also cause irritating symptoms. Certain environmental allergens like mold and mildew spores tend to peak in the summer months but can be present all year which can contribute to year-round issues. But these allergens can also come from within your own home.
Allergens and Indoor Air Quality
The vast majority of allergens in your home cannot be seen to the naked eye. Dust can become visible on surfaces and in sunbeams, but there’s more to it. A thin film of dust can also contain fungi, skin cells, pet dander, bacteria, mold and dust mites – minuscule arachnids (yikes!) that feast on skin flakes from humans and animals and are big triggers for allergy symptoms.
These indoor, airborne allergens can lurk in even the tidiest homes, causing flare-ups of redness, itchiness, coughing and sneezing. Even beyond these symptoms, the quality of our indoor air can have major sway over our health, as we spend a significant amount of our time at home.
Practice Good Air Hygiene
The good news is some simple practices and investments can make a significant difference to home air quality and reduce its allergy potential.
- Put down the feather duster! Conventional sweeping methods of dusting can kick up the dust – and everything that comes with it. For more effective dusting, use a damp cloth to trap and hold on to dust which has accumulated on household surfaces.
- For an added level of allergen-prevention, you can invest in a high-quality vacuum cleaner with a certified HEPA filter. HEPA filters, which stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, are specialized filters designed to catch and trap very fine particles like pollen and dust mite allergens.
- Portable air purifiers with HEPA filters can also be run to filter air – and are especially effective in bedrooms — considering the stretches of time spent sleeping inhaling the air in these rooms.
- Houseplants are also beautiful, calming additions to a home’s decor that also have air-filtering benefits. Peace lilies, snake plants and ficus are a few that help to clean the air naturally.
- Invest in mattress and pillow covers specially designed to reduce dust mite allergens. These sheets can seal away dust mite allergens that may have accumulated on your bedding. It’s no wonder you’ve been waking up with itchy eyes and a scratchy throat!
- If the season is triggering your reactions, close your windows when the irritants are at their most active between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. This helps to reduce the accumulation of pollen from the outdoors from coming in and collecting on furniture and floors during these peak pollen times.
Cleanse your Cleaners
Do we really need our homes to smell like “pine freshness” or “ocean breeze” for them to feel clean? The irony of these “clean” scents is that they tend to come from ingredients that can be irritating to skin, eyes and respiratory systems – and they aren’t necessary for the actual cleaning action. Opt for unscented products and maintain a neutral-air palate to ensure you aren’t masking any smell culprits.
It’s not just scents – many household cleaners are packed with unpronounceable ingredients that can make allergy symptoms worse. Our guide to green housecleaning and DIY cleaning products can help you make the switch to simple, all-natural formulas that can be made without allergens. Your local CHFA member retailer should stock plenty of safe and effective products and ingredients for DIYing that won’t compromise the air you breathe.
Alleviate symptoms with quercetin
The discomfort of allergies – whether seasonal or perennial – comes from inflammation caused by your immune system over-reacting to pollen, dander or mold spores. This is what leads to the runny nose, itchy eyes, headache and tight chest, largely caused by the release of histamine in the body.
Quercetin, an anti-inflammatory phytonutrient, can be a promising supplement for helping to prevent allergy symptoms before they start. This plant pigment, found in apples, red onions, broccoli and berries, can help to decrease inflammation by reducing the release of histamine in the body, which in turn, decreases the production of chemicals called cytokines that overexcite your immune system.
A recent study of subjects with seasonal allergies found that supplementing with quercetin reduced 70% of their symptoms and nearly three quarters of subjects reduced their intake of over-the-counter anti-allergy medications.
These few simple strategies can help to reduce the discomfort of allergies, not only providing a safe haven when seasonal allergies strike, but also preserve your health all year round. Whether you’re looking for allergy-specific quality supplements or clean-ingredient household products, visit your local CHFA member retailer for guidance and selection so you can enjoy the great indoors!