Sneeze Patrol: How to Stifle Seasonal Allergies
Reduce Indoor Allergies
First, visit the allergist to find out which allergens give you grief. Then, target your efforts.
For Mold: Try to keep the humidity down to at least 40 percent or lower; anything higher can promote mold growth. Central air conditioning and heating units and/or a handheld device can measure levels. "A dehumidifier can dry out damp basements, and a fan can help by circulating air in the bathroom," says Dr. Georgeson.
For Dust Mites: Avoid using feather pillows and down comforters, and put airtight encasements on your box spring, mattress, and pillows, suggests Dr. Georgeson. "If you have children, buy hypoallergenic stuffed animals, or put their favorites in the freezer for 24 hours, which will kill the mites." It's also better to have hardwood floors rather than carpet, which is an allergen magnet and difficult to clean. If you do have carpeting, Dr. Dobozin recommends cleaning it every six months to a year with acaracide, a chemical that kills dust mites. (It's a moist powder that you apply and then vacuum off; carpet-cleaning companies also offer this service.)
For Pets: Make your bedroom off-limits to them -- or at least keep them off your bed. It's the room you probably spend the most time in, so keep it as allergen-free as possible.
For All Allergens: use a freestanding air purifier with a HEPA air filter in living rooms and bedrooms. Research has shown that these are particularly good at reducing pet-allergen levels and improving breathing symptoms such as coughing and wheezing. In addition, keep windows and doors closed to prevent outdoor allergens such as pollen from floating in. If you have central heating and/or air conditioning, consider installing a central filtration system that removes dust and allergens. Again, look for models that use HEPA filters. Experts also recommend using vacuums that contain HEPA filters.
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