The first step that needs to be taken on the road to recovery is to reduce your “Total Load.” Every airborne and ingested allergen, as well as airborne irritants (perfumes, tobacco smoke, chemicals), add to your total load.
WHERE IS A GOOD PLACE TO START?
Concentrate on making changes in the areas of your environment that you seem to be most symptomatic. Because most people spend up to 90% of their time indoors, look for allergens in the areas in your work or home environment in which you spend most of your time. The bedroom is often an important place to make changes because it usually contains the highest level of dust mites.
Pollen comes from trees, grasses, and weeds on a seasonal basis. Exposure is not limited to outdoors because of infiltration and being carried indoors on pets, clothing, and shoes.
- Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible.
- Wear a mask when walking or doing outside activities.
- Bathe pets frequently.
- Take a shower after being outside with high pollen levels.
- Don’t bring cut flowers or dried weeds into the house.
Molds thrive in dark, warm, moist areas. Common sources of molds: moist surfaces in the bathroom or kitchen, spills, roof leaks, windows sweating, plumbing leaks, pet accidents, deteriorating carpet, drapes or upholstery, inefficient filters that allow dirt to accumulate on coils, drain pans, duct work, warm temperatures without air conditioning, trash compactors, garbage cans, drain pan in a frost-free refrigerator, worn clothes, leather, poorly ventilated closets, kitty litter, bird cages, and basements.
- Remove any visible mold with a stiff brush and treat area with mold retardant.
- Inspect the entire house for mold sources.
- Use high-performance filters on furnace.
- Culture out rooms to see what molds are present and in what quantities.
- Place a dehumidifier in the basement; fan to dry areas.
- Remove house plants, feather pillows.
- Decrease mold-ferment foods in diet (mushrooms, beer/wine, aged cheeses, etc.).
Dust mites inhabit bedding, upholstery, clothing, carpets, mattresses, and stuffed animals. Mites thrive in temperatures between 68 and 84 degrees and a relatively high humidity of 65-80%.
- Wash bedding in hot water weekly. Pillows can be put in the freezer for a day to kill dust mites or fluffed in a clothes dryer to remove dead mites.
- Encase pillows and mattresses with zippered coverings.
- Damp dust whenever possible.
- Vacuum carpets with a high performance vacuum.
Pet dander travels on the animal and everything it touches. Dander is light and stays airborne even longer than pollen.
- Keep pets outside or confine to one area of house.
- Bathe pets frequently.
- Wear a mask.
- Remove clothing after contact with pets in the laundry room, not the bedroom.
- Vacuum frequently and ventilate the house whenever possible.