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5 Steps to Indoor Allergy Relief
Written By : Bruce Kaler, MD 
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Managing your allergies inside the home or office is not too difficult but does take a few simple steps to succeed. Whether it is the peak of seasonal allergies or winter when there is no pollen, dust and mold are around all year round. Knowing exactly what pollens or molds bother you can be a start but managing your environment requires the same tools and organization.

1. Keep the house clean and dry. Molds and mildew thrive in warm moist environments. Areas in the house such as kitchen, bath, laundry room and basement tend to be damp. These are natural harbingers for mold to thrive. Molds and mildew are able to thrive in damp, poorly ventilated environments. Address proper ventilation in these areas like exhaust fans that re properly working, kept clean and actually vent to the outside, not just the attic space. Don't neglect small leaks. Getting a room dehumidifier can be an additional tool.

2. Cockroaches and pest control. These are common triggers for asthma and allergies. Keep all kitchen and bath areas clean and dry. Re-evaluate your food storage. Use sealed containers for all food storage as well garbage cans. The latter should be emptied regularly and cleaned. Research has shown that these are common problems even when people thought their housekeeping was above average. Weak bleach solution of 5% concentration is an inexpensive way to clean nonporous bathroom and kitchen surfaces. You can readily make this by adding a tablespoon of bleach to a one quart spray bottle of water. It's very cheap and a very handy application.

3. Vacuum with a HEPA filter. Cleaning and dusting with the vacuum cleaner is important but can really stir things up. The HEPA filter systems are very good at removing pollen and particulate matter from the exhaust and capturing it in the collection canister. Concentrate on all horizontal surfaces not just the floor. At least once a month trim around window and doors, under the bed or other furniture, shelves, blinds, curtains, and tops of cabinetry need your attention. Dust collects in these areas but is usually out of sight and out of mind. Take your time to look around at the more obscure places you take for granted. Under sink cabinets or the refrigerator drip pan are areas that collect moisture dust, pet hare and mold but remain out of sight.

4. Minimize use of carpeting. Wall to wall carpets although plush and inviting are terrible collecting repositories for dirt, mold, dust, pet dander.

If you must, vacuum regularly and carefully. However it is impossible to truly clean these things. Bare wood or vinyl floors are best for allergy relief. A throw rug or area carpet can be removed periodically for cleaning is more effective in controlling allergens. The bare floors don not collect and hold the particulate matter, mold, mildew, pollen, etc. Limit the use of upholstered furniture, plush furry toys that also cannot be cleaned easily.

5. Keep outside stuff out! Research has shown how many allergens are tracked in by us on shoes and clothing as well as pets. Remove your shoes at the door. Change your clothes and shower particularly if you have been engaged in outside recreational or work activities. Dogs are also vehicles for pollen and dust. Try bathing them regularly. Keep them off the bed or even out of the bedroom entirely if you are struggling for allergy relief. A hypoallergenic mattress cover can also help contain dust and dust mites in your sleeping area.

Follow these tips for allergy relief and easier breathing.

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