People with allergies face the possibility of having a reaction almost everywhere they go. Though we cannot control the environments of other peopleâ€™s homes, businesses or other public areas, we can make a difference in our own homes. Here are some tips for reducing allergens in your home.
In the Bedroom
It is particularly important to clear the sleeping environment of allergens because symptoms tend to worsen at night and may cause an asthmatic to wake up with an asthma attack.
- Clean the room of any visible mold. Get behind dressers and furniture, in closets and in corners, where mold may lurk.
- Remove anything that may contain material you have not been cleared from by your doctor. Sensitivity testing will reveal which materials you are allergic to. Once you know what to look for find items containing or made up of those materials and remove them from your room (polyester, acrylic, nylon, wool, etc.).
- Keep pets out of the bedroom. You may not be allergic to the pets themselves, but all kinds of allergens get trapped in their fur â€“ from dust to other irritants which are rubbed off on blankets, clothing, carpet, and so on.
- Do some spring cleaning. Clean out your closets and dressers and 1) Get rid of anything you haven’t worn in a year; and 2) Wash everything else in an allergen-free detergent or one that you know does not irritate your skin. This includes sheets and blankets that you know are not made of or contain materials you are allergic to. Clothes should be rinsed twice to thoroughly eliminate any detergent residues.
BioSET practitioners clear patients for common allergens in the bedroom air. First, the person is asked to leave an open jar of water in their bedroom for 24 hours. Then they are cleared for whatever substances are suspended in the water. This technique clears for various gases that may be given off in the bedroom by furniture, fabrics, carpets, and other items that might be difficult to identify individually. The person is also tested and cleared for sensitivities to materials commonly used in bedding, including wool, acrylic, nylon, polyester, and cotton.
Use the process of elimination to identify irritants in your bedroom. Do you have any plants, potpourri, dried flowers or other accessories that could be causing your allergies? Remove the items from your bedroom one at a time for at least three days. If your symptoms subside while that particular item is out of the room; keep it out.
One of the most common allergens that trigger asthmatics is dust mites. It is important to get rid of accumulations of dust. These next few tips are specific to the bedroom, but should be applied throughout the house.
- There should be smooth, uncluttered surfaces in the bedroom, with few small objects like books, knick- knacks, CDs, tapes, or stuffed animals that attract dust (and dust mites).
- Bedrooms should not be used as libraries or studies. Dust loves books.
- Bedding should be washed weekly in hot waterâ€”135 degrees Fahrenheitâ€”to kill dust mites. Cool water just gives them a bath.
- Pillows can be encased in non-allergic and non-permeable dust-proof covers, if the person sleeping on them is not sensitive to the material. Otherwise, the cover will do more harm than good.
- Avoid feather comforters and pillows, and remove carpeting if possible.
- Carpeting is a major hiding place for dust mites.
- Avoid wall pennants, macramÃ© hangings, and other dust catchers.
- Stuffed toys should be machine washable.
- Keep all clothing in a closet with the door closed.
- When vacuuming or dusting, be sure to use a dust face mask.
- In the Kitchen
- Mold grows in refrigerators, particularly around door gaskets, in water pans below self-defrosting refrigerators, and on spoiled foods.
- Mold can also grow on garbage, so containers should be emptied and cleaned frequently.
- In the Bathroom
- Remove excess water from shower doors, tiles, and tubs with a squeegee.
- Shower curtains, bath tile, shower stalls, tubs, and toilet tanks should all be washed with mold-preventive solutions.
- Do not carpet the bathroom.
- Bath sponges and other so-called â€œspaâ€ items are breeding grounds for mold and bacteria. Use a wash cloth instead and wash it frequently with the laundry.
Chlorine is a common sensitivity for asthmatics, and when present in tap water, the effects are particularly noticeable after a shower. There may be difficulty breathing and a feeling of running out of oxygen. Some asthmatics have found that a chlorine-removing filter on the showerhead helps to prevent this reaction.
Chemicals used in toiletries, from cosmetics to perfume and lotions, are common allergens and irritants for asthma-sufferers. Learning about and using natural soaps and skin care productsâ€”as well as natural house-cleaning productsâ€”can make a huge and immediate difference in respiratory health and allergy symptoms.
In the Laundry Room and Basement
- In the laundry room, vent the dryer outside and dry clothing immediately after washing.
- In a basement, do not lay carpet and pads on a concrete floor. Use vinyl flooring instead.
- Dirt floors should be covered with a vapor barrier.
- Keep the basement free of dust, and remove stored items that are likely to harbor mold.
- Sensitive individuals should not have their bedroom on a basement level.
These tips may seem extreme, but for those who suffer from allergies and asthma attacks, making their home environment a cleaner place to live is well worth the time.
If you believe you have allergies and arenâ€™t sure what you are allergic to, or if you believe that your asthma is connected to allergies, see a doctor and be tested for sensitivities. Once you know what causes your allergies, you can take steps to remove those irritants from your home. Until then, you can follow some of these helpful tips.
Dr. Ellen Cutler, DC is the creator of BioSETâ„¢, a digestive enzyme replacement program that has been proven to alleviate allergies, asthma, digestive disorders and more. She is a best-selling author and considered Americaâ€™s only female â€œall naturalâ€ doctor.