Spring home cleaning reduces allergies
April showers bring May flowers, but those spring blooms also bring misery to those who suffer from allergies. Although there are a myriad of ways to treat allergy symptoms, ranging from nasal congestion and sneezing to watery and itchy eyes, a cure remains elusive.
But there is one way you can help prevent allergies that may surprise you: spring cleaning.
In addition to making your home look and feel better, spring cleaning can also go a long way toward combatting allergy symptoms, according to a news release from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).
Dr. James Sublett, president-elect of the ACAAI said that a thorough cleaning of your home not only helps eliminate allergens, but it also prevents new ones from coming in. This is especially important for those who are sensitive to indoor allergens because, for them, allergy season can last all year round, but worsen when pollen becomes an issue in the spring.
Dr. Sublet said that year-round allergy sufferers need to remove allergens from the home in order to enjoy an active, healthy lifestyle.
Allergies are a major cause of illness in the U.S., with some 50 million Americans suffering allergies, including millions of children, according to the ACAAI. That's approximately one in five Americans who have immune systems that treat whatever they’re allergic to as an intruder, causing their body to release chemicals to defend against the intruding irritant.
This release of chemicals is what causes allergy symptoms, which can range from mild to severe – and even deadly.
To get rid of allergens in your home, while also preventing them from entering in the first place, the ACAAI offers the following tips for effectively and thoroughly cleaning your home:
1. Stay on top of routine household chores that prevent allergies, such as changing air filters every three months and using filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Vacuum regularly to get rid of dust mites, using a vacuum with a HEPA filter or a cyclonic vacuum, and also wash bedding and stuffed animals every week.
2. To help reduce moisture that causes mold, use bathroom fans, and clean up any standing water immediately. Use detergent and water to scrub visible mold from surfaces and completely dry them. It also helps to keep your home humidity below 60 percent and clean gutters regularly.
3. If you have any pets, your home probably has elevated levels of fur, saliva and dander after winter. You can lower levels of these allergens by vacuuming often and washing upholstery, including your pet's bed, and be sure to keep your pet out of your bedroom.
4. Opening your windows to let some fresh spring air in may also bring in pollen, and even air fresheners and scented candles contain chemicals that can trigger asthma attacks, so be careful about what you put inside the air in your home.
5. Stay indoors during the midday and afternoon hours, as that's when pollen counts are highest. Also wear gloves and an N95 particulate pollen mask before going outside to mow the lawn or garden, and be sure to take your allergy medication before hand. When outside, do not touch your eyes and do not forget to wash your hands, hair and clothing when you go back inside your home.
SOURCE: American College of Allergy, News Release: Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), Double Duty Spring Cleaning: Keep Healthy and Tidy, April 8, 2010.