Saturday, June 25, 2011

Allergens and your home

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An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

If you wish to go straight to the tips, kindly scroll down to the bottom of this article at the section "Simple tips you can follow". You won't miss it there.

Sneezing, itchy or runny nose, itchy throat and headache. You could be experiencing some form of allergy. Specifically hay fever or sometimes referred to as allergic rhinitis.

The first time I heard about allergic rhinitis I was shocked. I thought I had a very serious condition. But when my doctor described to me what it is, I was quite relieved. Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, as it turned out is a genetic predisposition that manifests itself when your airways get into contact with allergens like dust, pollen and mold.

When we hear dust and pollen we immediately think of the outdoors
 (I know I did). So our first instinct is to stay indoors. But you may be wondering why even after shutting yourself from the outside world to the confines of your own home your condition have not improved. If you want to know why, read on.

Dust particles, even pollen still exist in our homes. I am not saying here that you are not doing your cleaning chores because no matter how much we clean, there will always be some dust present in our homes but following these simple tips may provide you with better relief.

Pollen comes from plants and at their highest during the summer (at least that is my experience, so this bit f information is not based on any scientific measurement). And they spread better when it is windy. This is good for plants' flowers because then they are germinated but not for you. So it is hot and windy, you might be tempted to open those windows to let that much needed wind in. But by doing so, you are also letting those pollens and dust into your home. Ventilating your house is also needed but it is but wise when you know that the pollen count outside is high. So the first tip is, close windows during times of high pollen count specially if you are not in your home.

Dust, like pollen, can also get into your homes but some may not know that there are other sources of dust not carried by the wind. It could also come from the sole of our shoes, animal feces, dust mites and dead skin tissues.

Dead Skin and Dust Mite
It is said that we shed off millions if not billions of skin cells everyday, roughly about 5 to 9 pounds of skin a year. Five pounds is a lot to count if we are talking in microscopic terms. And because they are so tiny they get carried into the air even with the slightest disturbance. But it gets worst. These dead skin tissue are the food for dust mites.

Dust mites
House dust mites (see photo) are uninvited guest in our homes. They are so tiny, a little less than half a millimeter, you won't even realize they are there. They feed on dead skin tissue that we shed off. Dust mites love to dwell on beds, carpets and sofa especially on humid places (click link if you want to know how to reduce humidity in your home). They normally do not pose any problem but to people with allergy, the feces and remains of these tiny creatures could trigger an allergic reaction.

Simple Tips You Can Follow
Since we can not totally avoid getting in contact with these allergens, you can follow these simple tips to at least minimize our exposure to it and get that much needed relief.

1. Close any point of entry of pollen and dust from the outside during windy and high pollen count season.
2. During cleaning, minimize dust particles from getting airborne. You can use damp cloth to map your floors and other surfaces.
3. If using vacuum cleaner is necessary, use it with filters that prevents dust particles from escaping to the air.
4. Avoid using carpets as they are good breeding ground for dust mites. If you can not let go of your carpets, regular cleaning is necessary and do the cleaning outside.
5. Your bed probably is where most of the dust mites are concentrated because that is where you spend a lot of time and the environment is just right for dust mites. So a more frequent changing of the covers is a must.
6. Wash pillows and stuffed toys. Using pillows with synthetic fibers are also advised since they are more washable and do not clump when washed.
7. Your bed and sofa must also be cleaned. You can do this by taking them outside and vacuum it or you can just beat it until you are satisfied that it is clean.
8. Dust mites also die under the heat of the sun so it is a good practice to leave your bed, sofa, pillows, stuffed toys and the like under the sun.
9. Look for any places where dust can collect and if possible cover them up.
10. Clean your air conditioning filters. You might also want to consider using a HEPA filter.
11. There are also stand alone air filters, that you can buy from department stores.
12. Pets also bring a lot of dust particles so you might want to reconsider having one or you can build a shelter for them outside.
13. Search your house for molds and clean them. Humid environments are ideal places for mold to grow. Try my simple tips in removing moisture in your home as outlined here.
14. Use face masks when cleaning and leave the room after you are done and re-enter when the dust settles.

That is it. Have I left out anything? Post them at the comments area or just let me know what you think.

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