Reviewed by Robert Falk, MD
Allergy sufferers, to ensure as little suffering as possible, must make certain that their home is as free of allergens as they can make it. Stop external allergens from entering and clean all of the internal allergens if you want to avoid the trigger, say experts. If you are unlucky then the trigger can cause all of the normal symptoms such as sneezing, runny and sore eyes, itchy skin and coughing, additionally it could bring on an asthma attack or a bout of eczema. If you are suffering from ‘hay fever’ then take your medications as advised and try to avoid any known triggers.
The impact of allergy
A study commissioned by Allergy UK Research identified that 41% of allergy sufferers would not visit a friend or family member because they believed that their home had triggers that would start an allergic reaction. In the UK the most common allergens are house dust mites and pets. Pollen can also be found depending on the weather and the season. Research is now identifying the serious impact that these allergies have on the lives of the sufferers.
Parents often comment on how their children miss the normal things in life such as sleepovers or visits to friends where the friends have a pet for example. One lady even commented on how the frequency of visits to her mother had to be curtailed because her son was allergic to pets and her mother had two dogs. It also affected her household because she had four children who all wanted a dog but because one was allergic then it was not possible.
Allergens are present in every home. In the UK the most common allergens are house dust mites, pet allergens, from cats and dogs and moulds. In the summer pollen can get in because of open windows and doors. This affects hay fever sufferers. Normally people think of the bedroom being the abode of the house dust mite allergen but that is not totally true. These mites can be found anywhere in the house although the bedroom is probably where most of them are.
The allergens found externally, such as pollen, can stick to your clothes or hair and enter the home that way. The allergens are then transferred to the furniture that you have sat on. In the summer, when the pollen is the highest many people feel the need to open windows because of the heat. This exposes the home to external allergens too.
Removing the allergens
To remove the allergens requires lots of frequent cleaning. It is the same action whether they are external or internal allergens. Dust mites are likely to be everywhere so you must dust everywhere with a damp duster, this means window sills, on top of the TV, all hard surfaces, on top of picture frames and book cases. Vacuum all the floors daily, whether carpeted or not, do the soft furnishings twice a week and don’t forget the curtains. Under the bed should get extra attention as that is a favourite for the house dust mites.
Barrier mattress covers are a good idea and you can get them for duvets and pillows too. Spend time cleaning your bed, wipe down any hard surfaces and vacuum the mattress and wash bedding at above 55ºC. Another option which kills the mites is to put bedding into a plastic bag and then put it into the freezer for 24 hours.
If you have pets then keep them away from the bedrooms. Some people do not allow them into the living room either. Make sure that your pets are washed once or twice a week. And whenever they have been outside give their coats a wipe down before coming in.
Keep your windows closed whenever possible as this helps keep pollen out. Keep your dirty washing in a plastic bag or sealable washing bin because there will be pollen and other allergens stuck to your clothes. Remember that pollen may be on your arms and face and hair. Have a quick shower as soon as you get home.