You’ve heard about “spring cleaning,” but what about a “fall cleaning?” As days get shorter and temperatures continue to fall over most of the United States, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology is recommending that perennial, or year-round allergy sufferers, take some precautions before retreating inside during the colder months.
While pollen from ragweed is the main cause of fall allergy symptoms, perennial allergy sufferers are affected by indoor allergens such as dust mites, mold spores, pets and cockroaches.
“Many allergy sufferers believe they are out of the woods once fall allergy season is over,” said allergist/immunologist Robert Wood, MD, FAAAAI, and Chair of the AAAAI’s Indoor Allergen Committee. “But when their symptoms continue to persist, chances are it is something in their home making them miserable.”
Allergies can be mistaken for the common cold. While many of the symptoms are similar, allergies can persist for several weeks, and require more than a standard cold medication. If left untreated, allergies can seriously impact your quality of life, causing a significant amount of missed work and school. Untreated allergy symptoms can also develop into more chronic conditions, such as asthma, ear infections and sinusitis. Research shows that as many as 38% of patients with allergic rhinitis also have asthma.
Indoor allergy sufferers should consider seeking the help of an allergist/immunologist, who can determine the exact cause of your symptoms, determine whether medication is needed and work with you to control the allergies in your home. An allergist/immunologist can also work with you to develop control measures in your home.
“Indoor control measures should focus on sites where allergens accumulate,” Wood said. “Progressive changes will produce an indoor environment that is less allergenic, easier to clean and healthier for the whole family.”
The AAAAI offers the following tips to help allergy proof your home:
Remove extra clutter in your home that may be collecting dust. Dust also settles in carpeting. If possible, remove carpeting and replace it with washable throw rugs. Also, don’t store anything under the bed.
Put mattresses, box springs and pillows in special plastic cases that are allergy-proof or “non-allergenic.” Studies have proven that these reduce dust mites. Also wash blankets, sheets and pillowcases in 130 degree water every week.
If possible, keep pets out of the bedroom. This may decrease your exposure to animal dander. Wash your hands after touching pets.
Clean moldy surfaces, such as the corners of showers or under the sink. Fix leaks that may leave surfaces wet and allow mold to grow. Avoid having carpeting in bathrooms or basements.
To keep cockroaches out of your home, keep food in containers with tight lids and wash dishes immediately after use in hot, soapy water. Clean under stoves, refrigerators or toasters where loose crumbs can accumulate. Block areas where they could enter the home, especially small spaces, like wall cracks, window or floor cracks, cellar doors and outside drains.
Contact an allergist/immunologist for more information on treatment options and recommendations for reducing your indoor allergen exposure.