What Steps Can I Take to Control Allergens at Home?

The most obvious steps in controlling allergens at home are to control dust and dust-related allergens, however, there are others that should be considered such as food allergies in some households. The simplest form of allergy control is avoidance or decreasing the amount of exposure.

Key takeaways:

The irony is that cleaning the house can exacerbate allergic reactions, too. Dust and dust mites can be brought into the air by vacuuming, sweeping, and dusting. Molds travel with aerosolized dust.

Allergies to dust and dust mites can trigger asthma and eczema flares. Therefore, those with known allergies should take caution.

Controlling food allergies should also be considered at home. The precautions should mirror those taken at restaurants, including education and training of those in the household who prepare food for those people who have known allergies.

What are the allergy symptoms to watch out for relating to dust?

  • Runny or stuffy nose.
  • Itchiness.
  • Wheezing.
  • Coughing.
  • Tightness in the chest.
  • Shortness of breath.
  • Sneezing.
  • Eye symptoms (redness, tearing, itching, blurry vision).

What are the most common dust allergy triggers?

  • Dust and dust mites.
  • Cockroaches, other insects.
  • Mold.
  • Pollen.
  • Dog and cat hair or fur.
  • Feathers.
  • Animal pests such as rodents.

Best methods of dust allergy management and treatment in a home or office

  1. Remove or reduce the number of carpets, curtains, drapery.
  2. Use hardwoods or hard surface flooring, if possible.
  3. Sweep and vacuum using high-efficiency particulate air filtration (HEPA), if available.
  4. Clean hard surfaces with a wet mop.
  5. Clean, wash or encase all bedding, mattresses, and box springs.
  6. Use non-allergic coverings for pillows, furniture, and other household items when appropriate.
  7. Clean window treatments.
  8. Keep windows closed.
  9. Change furnace and air conditioning filters frequently, using a HEPA filter, if available.
  10. Maintain humidity in the home to be less than 50%.
  11. Minimize pet exposure to areas where you spend the most time such as the bedroom.
  12. Don’t forget to wear a mask and gloves while cleaning to minimize exposure.
  13. Remember dust mites can trigger asthma in children so it may be best to have them play outside or go to another room when cleaning is taking place.
  14. Consider having a heating and air conditioning specialist examine your house’s system and duct work since leakage can introduce dust, dust mites, molds, pollens, and other hazards into your home without your knowledge.

Best methods of food allergy management and treatment in a home or office

You can take control of food allergy management and treatment in your own home. This is especially relevant during the holiday season because different foods and recipes are being tried.

There are hidden food allergies, possibilities of cross-contamination of foods, and planning steps that may help the holiday season go smoothly. These include:

  • If there are people with known allergies such as peanuts or eggs, make sure everyone is educated as to what the ingredients are in different foods.
  • Separate kitchen equipment and areas to prepare and cook food. Use the techniques restaurants employ such as different color cutting boards for meats, vegetables, and bread. Wipe down and wash surfaces and pots and pans thoroughly to avoid cross-contamination.
Food intolerance is different than food allergy. Rich and unusual foods during the holidays may bring on food intolerance. Food intolerance is another term for food sensitivity. The person may have difficulty digesting a particular food causing symptoms such as intestinal gas, abdominal pain, or diarrhea, but they are not allergic to the food. They should merely avoid it.

Most food allergies cause minor symptoms. However, some food allergies, even microscopic exposure to some foods, have the potential to lead to serious or life-threatening reactions called anaphylaxis.

Anaphylaxis demands immediate medical intervention, including a rapid injection of epinephrine. Anaphylaxis can occur with food allergies and environmental allergies such as insect stings, medications, pollens, or chemicals.

Most people with known food allergies wear medical jewelry with specific instructions. Prevention of food allergies involves having a designated plan which includes access to antihistamines and epinephrine.

Medications will include antihistamines, decongestants, corticosteroids, antihistamine nasal sprays, and other common over-the-counter medications. It is important to use these medications only when needed since prolonged use may lead to tolerance or decreased effectiveness over time.

Perhaps one of the best methods of controlling and treatment of allergies at home should involve professional evaluation by a licensed, trained allergist.

In addition to recommending allergy medications, an allergist will perform a history and physical exam as well as a thorough evaluation of your home or office environment. The allergist will ask questions and act as a detective in trying to figure out potential areas of concern that may have been overlooked.

The investigative work in determining what you, your family members, or co-workers may have allergic reactions to can take time. There may be issues that have been hidden or missed. These include both environmental and food allergens.

After a complete evaluation, an allergist may recommend allergy testing and allergy immunotherapy treatment. Allergy immunotherapy can be offered as traditional allergy shots, allergy tablets, or sublingual (under the tongue) liquids, or some of the newer versions are available as toothpaste for children.

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