Common Allergens

Allergens are a part of our daily lives, which is why it is our job to help you manage them. Knowing common allergens that can potentially trigger your allergy symptoms is the easiest way to prevent allergy flare-ups.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are a common cause of nasal allergies. These mites are tiny organisms that live in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpet. They live in warm, humid conditions. House-dust mites are almost impossible to get rid of, but you can keep them under control with these tips:

  • Replace horizontal blinds with pull-down shades or vertical blinds.
  • Use washable curtains instead of heavy drapes.
  • Cover your mattress, box spring, and pillows in allergy-proof casings.
  • Wash sheets, blankets, and mattress pads every 1 to 2 weeks in hot water.
  • Remove stuffed animals and other things that collect dust, such as wall hangings, knickknacks, and books- especially in the bedroom.
  • Dust your home every week with a damp cloth. Vacuum once a week. Use HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filters or double-ply bags in the vacuum cleaner. Or, use a vacuum designed to lessen allergens.
  • Dust mites need moist air to live. Use a dehumidifier to reduce air moisture. Do not use humidifiers, or vaporizers.

Pollen

The pollen that causes allergies are made by plants (trees, grasses, and weeds) that do not have flowers.  Tips to limit your exposure to pollen are listed below:

  • After spending time outdoors, bathe or shower, wash hair, and change clothes.
  • Check pollen counts and avoid spending a lot of time outdoors when counts are high. Pollen tends to be higher during warm, dry weather. They also tend to be higher during early morning and late afternoon hours.
  • Keep windows closed and air conditioning on, if possible, in your car and your home.

Pets

Many people think that pet allergy is caused by the fur of cats and dogs. But researchers have found that the major allergens are proteins made by oil glands in the animals’ skin. These proteins are shed in flakes of skin called dander. Cats tend to be more likely than dogs to cause allergic reactions- this may be because they lick themselves more, may be held more, and may spend more time indoors. Guinea pigs, mice, and rats can also cause allergies. The best way to avoid animal allergens is to not have a pet. If you already have a pet and want to keep it, try to reduce your exposure as much as possible with the following tips:

  • Use an air-cleaning unit with HEPA filter- especially in the bedroom.
  • Use filter bags or vacuums designed to lessen allergens.
  • Wash your hands after you touch a pet, and try to keep pets away from your face.
  • Brush and bathe your pet often. Bathing pets helps lessen dander. Bathing also washes other allergens like dust, mold, and pollen off the animal’s fur.

Mold

Molds grow best in dark, damp places. Outside, mold grows on rotting logs, wet leaves, and certain grasses and weeds. In the home, mold commonly grows in and on damp basements and closets, bathrooms, places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifiers, garbage cans, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and old foam rubber pillows. To control mold, try the following:

  • Drain wet areas off your yard, and clean leaves and weeds before they begin to rot.
  • If you are outside when mold counts are high, bathe, wash your hair, and change your clothes afterward.
  • While bathing or showering, leave the window open or use a fan.
  • If your house is damp, use a dehumidifier. Empty once a day.