For the more than 40 million people throughout the country who suffer from indoor allergies, spring cleaning can be an important step to take in order to reduce allergy symptoms, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI). Spring cleaning takes some time and effort, but it will produce an indoor environment that is less allergenic, easier to clean and healthier for the whole family.
Symptoms of indoor allergies
Indoor allergy sufferers will often wheeze, sneeze, cough and hack their way through the winter months, thinking they have a chronic cold. In actuality, they are probably reacting to indoor allergens. Some symptoms between a cold and allergies are similar, such as sneezing and a stuffy or runny nose. But, if your symptoms are also accompanied by a fever, sore throat, colored nasal discharge, and aches and pains, then you probably have a cold. With allergies, there is never a fever, the nasal discharge is clear, and eyes may become red and itchy. Furthermore, while a cold usually lasts about a week, allergies can last all year.
Prevention of common indoor allergens
The key is to focus on sites where allergens accumulate. The term “allergen” refers to any substance that can trigger an allergic response. First, you must know which allergens or irritants in your home provoke your symptoms. Common allergens and some ways to prevent them include:
Molds: These are microscopic fungi. Their spores float in the air like pollen and are present throughout the year in many states. Molds can be found indoors in attics, basements, bathrooms, refrigerators and other food storage areas, garbage containers, carpets, and upholstery.
Pets: People are not allergic to their pets’ hair, but to a protein found in the saliva, dander (dead skin flakes) or urine of an animal with fur. These proteins are carried in the air on small, invisible particles and can trigger allergy symptoms.
Cockroaches: These live in warm, tropical climates, but various species dwell in the offices and homes of humans living in various climates. A protein found in their droppings can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms.
When should you see an allergist/immunologist?
By conducting a thorough history of your health and performing allergy tests, if needed, an Asthma and Allergy Center Clinician can help you determine which indoor allergens provoke your symptoms. Environmental control measures differ for dust mites, animal allergens, cockroaches and molds, but your Asthma and Allergy Center Clinician can help you determine ways to reduce your exposure to these allergens. To relieve your symptoms, your Asthma and Allergy Center Clinician may also prescribe appropriate medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants or asthma medications and allergy vaccine therapy (immunotherapy).