Pollen and dust clouds might be a minor irritation for some, but for millions of Americans who suffer from allergies, spring cleaning is not the only culprit that creates a battle with fits of sneezing, runny noses, watery eyes or more severe symptoms. If you are prone to itchy eyes, stuffy nose, sinus pain or breathing problems from the great outdoors, chances are that allergens in the home can make you sick too. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, (AAAAI), a recent study found that half of all homes contained at least six allergens.
According to AAAAI, allergic disease affects one out of six Americans and costs millions in medications, physician services and missed days from work and school.
Experts at AAAAI explain that an allergy is an abnormal reaction to an ordinarily harmless substance called an allergen. When an allergen is absorbed into an allergic individual, the immune system treats it as an invader and a chain reaction begins. This reaction causes white blood cells of the immune system to produce antibodies, which attach themselves to certain cells that cause a release of potent chemicals. These chemicals bring on the symptoms prevalent in allergic people. Common allergens include pollens, molds, dust mites, animal dander, food, medications, cockroach droppings and insect stings.
Long Island business owner, Maria Heller has suffered with allergies for most of her life but the most severe symptoms occurred after her first child was born. In addition to having eczema as a child, she was also allergic to milk, eggs, chocolate and pets. After her daughter was born, she developed other allergies.
Heller learned she was allergic to mold spores, dust, chocolate, onions, monosodium glutamate, and dairy products, after a series of allergy tests. She was hospitalized over fifteen times, and in one instance, nearly lost her life. Allergy shots controlled her symptoms.
“My allergies changed later,” Heller said. “I developed asthma and had allergy shots to relieve the symptoms. After many years, I found that preventative medicine works best for me. Acupuncture and regular chiropractic treatments are all I need now to boost my immune system and keep my body aligned so it functions better. ”
Unlike pollen and other outdoor allergens, indoor allergens can cause people to suffer from allergies year-round. Recent information from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) states that indoor air quality is a serious health issue, being nearly 70 times more polluted than outside air quality.
Taking specific precautions in your own home can control indoor allergens: Encase mattresses and bedding in special allergen-proof fabric covers or airtight plastic covers. Bedding should be washed weekly in hot water and dried in a hot dryer. Keep humidity low by using a dehumidifier. Use a high efficiency particulate filter or a double layered bag to vacuum carpeting.
To control indoor mold and mildew, which thrive on dampness found in basements, bathrooms or anywhere with leaks, you should inspect your home for moisture buildup. Mold can release toxic mold spores and is a health hazard. Removal should be done by a licensed contractor who performs environmental inspections and can provide qualified industrial hygienists.