Allergens are everywhere, indoors and outdoors; you can NOT escape them. It then becomes a matter of managing them to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. It would take some doing, especially when you factor in the 2008 study with results indicating that over 50% of American homes had at least six detectable allergens, with 45% containing at least three allergens at extreme levels.
Although good practice to proof your home against all allergens, it is often better to know what you are allergic to, and prevention against it (or them) should be your priority.
Continue reading to find out what you are allergic to and how this information makes you better equipped to improve air quality in your home and ensure better living standards.
What are you allergic to?
With 10-20% of the world’s population living with pet dander allergy, an average of 20% with pollen allergy in the U.S, 10% of the world’s population with dust allergy, and 25% of people in the U.S with mold allergy, it becomes vital to know which might cause you to show allergy symptoms.
You can find out what might cause you to show allergy symptoms with either of the following tests:
1. Skin Prick Test
This is the most common allergy test, and it requires the doctor to put a controlled amount of different allergens on your skin and then gently prick it so that they seep into your skin. The procedure is painless to most, with a handful of people finding it slightly irritating.
After having the skin pricked, the doctor waits for about 20 minutes for the results. Where reddish bumps, resembling a mosquito bite, would mean a positive reaction and no skin blemish indicating otherwise.
2. Patch Test
People skittish about needles can opt for the patch test. The operating principle is similar, but instead of using needles, patches with several allergens being tested for are applied to the skin.
They are often placed on the back for convenience for two to four days as it takes that long for the reactions to occur and results to be known.
3. Intradermal test
Although similar to the skin prick test, the intradermal test is more sensitive and gives more consistent results. Instead of pricking the skin for the allergens being tested to seep in, small amounts of the allergens are introduced directly under the skin.
Like the skin prick test, the results would be ready in 20 to 30 minutes.
How to Allergy-Proof Your Home: 18 Tips
The first step is knowing what can cause you to have an allergic reaction, with the tests above giving you a very good idea. What should follow is how you can limit your exposure to these allergens, and the following allergy-proofing tips for your home are an excellent place to start.
Regulate Temperature and Humidity
Other efforts to manage allergens in our home, whatever they might be, would be futile if you cannot regulate your home temperature and humidity levels properly.
The CDC state that mold grows in places with high humidity, but less commonly known is that dust mites also thrive in areas with 70 – 80% humidity and in temperatures between 68 and 77F (20 to 50C). It is no different with pollen allergy, as high humidity also causes allergic rhinitis (hay fever).
With humidity and temperature enabling the growth of some allergens and facilitating allergic reactions, it becomes vital to keep them in check. The following are some ways to do just that:
1. Close Your Windows and Doors
Controlling your home temperature and humidity can be as simple as closing your windows and doors. The longer they are open, the more challenging it will be to keep tabs on temperature and humidity.
2. Favor Cooler Showers
You will need to dial back on your hot bath as it warms up the air in your living space. This is a problem because warm air has more moisture content than cool air.
3. Dry Laundry Outside
People often dry their laundry indoors for reasons ranging from convenience to dark clouds in the sky. However, it soon becomes a problem as all the moisture from the clothes gets trapped in your living space.
4. Fix All Leaking Pipes
The last thing you need when trying to regulate humidity in your home is a faulty or leaking tap. Wet spots, stained drywall, and irregular water bills are dead giveaways for leaks.
5. Invest in a Quality Air Conditioner
Having a cooling unit in your home is an effective way to manage both temperature and humidity. The AC unit replaces warm, moist air with cool, dry air.
6. Reduce House Plants
Plants add immense aesthetic value to any space, but they also release moisture into the air. You should consider reducing or relocating a few of them if you have several plant pots.
An alternative would be to opt for dehumidifying plants like the following:
- Aloe Vera
- English Ivy
- Peace Lily
7. Use a Dehumidifier
If unsure about dehumidifying plants, you could purchase a dehumidifier instead. It removes moisture from the warm air current and circulates dry air in your living area. Having one or more around your home would check your humidity problem.
Develop Proper Cleaning Culture
Another reason many homes have allergens at extreme levels is an inadequate or total absence of a cleaning culture. The following are easy tips you can incorporate to keep your home clean and allergens at bay.
8. Remove Carpeting
You should replace old carpets with new ones, as pet dander, pollen, and dust mites could be trapped in the carpet fiber. Alternatively, you could replace the carpeting entirely with linoleum or wood flooring and washable rugs.
9. Favor Washable Curtains and Blinds
Like the carpets, you should also prioritize installing washable blinds and curtains in all the rooms. This makes it easy to clean more regularly and prevents the accumulation of pollen, pet dander, and dust mites.
10. Reduce Clutter in your Living Area
Elements in your living area that can collect dust should be kept away. You can store items you do not immediately need in plastic bins.
11. Wash Dishes Regularly
You should wash dishes and the sinks regularly and properly discard food debris. These discourage the growth of mold in your kitchen.
12. Handle Laundry Properly
You should keep your dirty laundry in a plastic bag until you are ready to wash them. After your laundry, you should wipe off excess water on the body of your washing machine.
13. Empty Waste Bins on Time
You do not want your waste bins running over before you take them out. Otherwise would encourage mold development on food debris and rodents and insects to sift through your garbage.
14. Invest in Quality Air Purifier
One surefire way to improve air quality in your home is the introduction of an air purifier. You can put these anywhere to remove unwanted particles in your air and circulate clean air in your living area. However, these are less effective in larger rooms and require a heavy budget to have one fitted in homes with multiple rooms.
A simple workaround would be to use the air purifier in tandem with the Respiray Wear A+. This way, you have this wearable technology on your person when you move about in your home and only place the chunky air purifier in spaces you frequent.
Adequate Pest Control
Pest control is essential because rodents and insects can track allergens into your home. The following are ways you can ensure adequate pest control:
15. Restrict Your Pet’s Adventures
Your pet can very easily become a pest if its outdoor adventures are not curtailed. If allowed to roam free, your dog or cat can introduce pollen into your home. Also, you should consider limiting your pet’s access to certain areas in your home to prevent the spread of dander.
16. Insect Proof Lids on Storage Containers and Waste Bins
You can discourage rodents and insects from making a home in your house by using insect-proof lids on food storage containers and waste bins.
17. Set Traps
If your home is already infested with pests, you should consider setting traps around your home to remove these unwanted visitors.
18. Call an Exterminator
Sometimes, it is best to leave the trapping to the professionals. This way, you avoid heavy lifting, reduce the risk of making a mess in your home, and guarantee a thorough service.
Consistency is Key
Proofing your home against allergies just got easier with the tips above. Combining one or more of these tips would ensure protection against different allergens. But almost as important as these tips is being consistent in their application — only then would you be able to get substantial results.