Allercy and Asthma Health
The Official Publication of AAN - MA

Cleaning Tips for Allergy Sufferers: Breathe Easier This Fall

By Brian Cayko, MBA, RRT

For those of us with seasonal allergies, or those with allergen-related asthma, avoiding the things that trigger our flare-ups may seem like common sense. I have seasonal allergies and my nine-year-old son has undergone allergy testing to confirm that he is allergic to pretty much every animal, grass, weed, or particle floating in the air. So you can imagine that we have learned to pay close attention to our exposures.

While avoiding your outdoor allergens may seem obvious, what may not be quite so clear are all the exposures you live with every day in your own home. Yes, your home is most likely the #1 location where you are being exposed to your allergic triggers. Slowly, and little by little, allergen-laden dust accumulates, and just as gradually we may simply become conditioned to living with the stuffy, sneezing noses and tight lungs that result from the constant exposure.

This article will provide you with some cost effective tips to help rid your home of these allergens without breaking the bank, and the best part is that you will be breathing better as a result!

Air filtration units

While I do want to focus on low-cost or free methods of reducing in-home allergens, first I would like to note that room or home air filtration units can dramatically reduce circulating dust and its eventual buildup. As a result, they can provide relief.

These filters can range in price and quality, and research has demonstrated varying results. However, the data clearly demonstrate that whole house filtration using your home’s heating and air conditioning unit, as well as portable room air filters, can make a statistically relevant improvement in both symptoms and “dust” accumulation.

It is important to note that these filters should be HEPA filters and should be cleaned and/or replaced frequently. Not doing so will actually increase your allergy-related symptoms as they become contaminated.

Clean your indoors wisely

Now for some of those low cost methods —

  • Don’t use a broom. It will only stir up the allergens you are trying to limit. Instead use a wet mop and damp cloths.
  • When using spray cleaners, spray on the cloth instead of on surfaces to avoid breathing in the small particles you are trying to clean.
  • Vacuum several times a week with a quality vacuum utilizing HEPA filtration.
  • Have the allergen sensitive family member leave your home during cleaning to avoid the particles you may have stirred up.
  • If you are sensitive and have to clean, wear a disposable dust mask. You can find these at local hardware stores in packs and they are fairly inexpensive.
  • Utilize your home’s filtered ventilation system or portable room filters during your cleaning.
  • Opening windows may help as well, but remember that by doing so you are also letting those environmental allergens into your home through the window.

Here are some other things to consider too —

  • Reconsider whether to bring pets into the home.
  • Wash your bed linens weekly.
  • Consider using hypoallergenic pillowcases.
  • Stuffed animals and clutter are allergen sponges.
  • Humidifiers, although helpful for some conditions, are rarely helpful for people with asthma and those with allergies and can instead increase symptoms.
  • Take your medicine as directed!

Respiratory therapist Brian Cayko is a member of the American Association for Respiratory Care from Great Falls, MT, where he is director of clinical education for the respiratory care program at Great Falls College MSU.

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