Spring is around the corner and you might already be suffering from allergies. It’s tough to enjoy the beautiful weather with a stuffy nose and constant sneezing keeping you inside. When spring allergies follow you indoors, it can make the situation even more frustrating.
Luckily, there are a few things you can do to help alleviate your symptoms, but first, let’s discuss what causes allergies.
What are Allergies?
Allergies are your immune system’s response to a perceived threat. When you are exposed to a substance that your immune system doesn’t recognize, it causes inflammation and a reaction that is different depending on the type of allergen.
Most common allergies are caused by airborne particles like pollen and mold. When you inhale these particles, immune cells in your respiratory tract release chemicals that help fight off the offenders.
So those itchy, watery eyes are just a sign that your immune system is doing its job, but that certainly doesn’t make it any more enjoyable!
What are the Symptoms of Spring Allergies?
Allergies can cause a variety of reactions, but the most common are:
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy, red, and watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
Outdoor temperature changes, pollen in the air, and increased humidity can all trigger the symptoms of spring allergies.
However, indoor allergies are common in the springtime as well. This is because allergens such as pollen can make their way indoors through an open window or door and get trapped inside the ductwork of your home. Other allergens like dust, mold, and pet dander can also be found on your furniture, carpets, and drapes.
Is There a Cure to Spring Allergies?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for spring allergies and you can’t prevent your body from reacting to allergens, but you can take steps to minimize your symptoms.
First, take a closer look at what is causing your spring allergies and try to eliminate the source as much as possible. This may involve removing certain plants or flowers from your yard or hiring a lawn service to minimize your interaction with these things that can trigger your symptoms.
There are also many over-the-counter treatments that you can use to relieve your discomfort. The best time to start an allergy treatment is before the symptoms become uncomfortable or turn into a full-blown allergic reaction.
What About Indoor Allergens?
When it comes to spring allergies, everyone assumes outdoor allergens are to blame but there are can also be indoor allergens right in your own home that can worsen your symptoms.
Common springtime allergy triggers in the home include:
For those with allergies, keeping the home dust-free is essential. Dust mites are microscopic bugs that thrive on the humidity found in carpets and mattresses. Dust can cling to almost any surface in your home and hide in crevices and behind furniture.
Dust mites thrive around where humans sleep and they are one of the top causes of allergies. In fact,4 out of 5 homes in the US have detectable levels of dust mites present.
How to Keep Your Home Dust-Free
While you aren’t able to eliminate every speck of microscopic dust in your home, there are steps you can take to minimize its presence.
Stay on top of the Dust – Keep dust at bay by vacuuming and wiping down the surfaces in your home daily. Pay special attention to easily-forgotten areas such as ceiling fans, heating vents, and window sills. The more frequently you clean the less time dust has to build up.
Clean your air ducts — Air ducts can accumulate a ton of built-up dust, pollen, and mold and expel it into your air each time the furnace or AC kicks on. Clean your air ducts yearly and change your air filters every 3 months to eliminate the opportunity for old dust to circulate through your home, worsening your spring allergies.
Stick to a routine vacuuming schedule — While vacuuming doesn’t get rid of dust mites completely, it does reduce their population and it helps remove their waste. Vacuum regularly and empty your vacuum cleaner bag after each use.
Even the most strict cleaning schedule may not be enough, especially for those who suffer from mold allergies.
Although mold isn’t visible in the air, it is a big problem for anyone who suffers from mold allergies. Mold spores can be found all throughout your home, but are especially prevalent in bathrooms, basements, and other areas with poor ventilation.
The spores grow and thrive best in dark, damp, and warm places. Some molds are even capable of degrading solid materials and can cause wood and building materials to rot.
The most common household molds are Aspergillus, Penicillium, Fusarium, Stachybotrys chartarum, and Trichoderma.
Mold exposure can lead to allergic reactions such as:
- Chronic sinusitis
- Stuffy nose
- Itchy, watery eyes
- Skin rashes and irritation
- Asthma attacks
- Changes in the immune system
Mold can grow anywhere there is moisture. This includes your carpet! The CDC says that exposure to mold can affect the health of people who are living in or working in damp buildings, and who have weakened immune systems.
How to Prevent Mold Growth in the Home
There are many steps you can take to prevent mold growth in the home. These steps include:
- Keep your home well ventilated. Use exhaust fans in the bathroom after showering.
- Try to keep humidity levels below 50 percent. A dehumidifier may help in problem areas, like the basement.
- Have a professional test for moisture and treat any mold before it has a chance to spread.
Once again, routinely cleaning your air ducts can help keep mold at bay as well. Mold can build up inside the ductwork and distribute through your home. Before you know it, you and your family are feeling the effects of mold allergies.
Although pets are a blessing to many of us, animal hair and dander can act as allergens. This is especially true during the spring and fall when your pet tends to shed the most.
Animal hair also clogs up your air filters. In addition to increased allergens in your air, clogged air filters can lead to higher energy bills and mechanical problems with your HVAC system. Pet hair can also get trapped in the carpet fibers along with pet odor.
How to Reduce Pet Dander in the Home
Depending on your pet, routine baths can help reduce the amount of dander in your home. However, you want to be careful about not washing your pet too much, as this can dry out your pet’s skin. Seek the advice of a professional pet groomer if you are in doubt.
It’s also a good idea to routinely brush your pet’s hair to cut back on dander as well. Vacuum frequently to sweep up any hair and dead skin that are contributing to your allergies. Be sure to empty the vacuum cleaner after each use and discard the contents outside.
Lastly, it’s a smart idea to have your carpets professionally cleaned if you are having problems with pet allergies.
Pollen from trees, grass, and weeds are also a big cause of allergies. Regular outdoor cleaning around your home such as washing the car and keeping the gutters free of debris can help reduce pollen buildup.
However, pollen can also follow you indoors. It can stick to your hair and clothing and become airborne inside the home. Just like the kids with their sticky fingers, pollen sticks to surfaces and floors.
If you have a lot of pollinating trees nearby, you may find quite a bit of pollen buildup throughout your home, especially if you leave your windows and doors open.
How to Get Rid of Pollen Allergens in the Home
Some ways to help prevent pollen allergies in your home include:
- Run a humidifier to help eliminate dust and pollen from the air.
- Replace your HVAC filters every 30 days.
- Clean your air ducts, especially if you have not done so within the last couple of years.
- Stick to a vacuuming routine and dusting schedule.
- Get your carpets professionally cleaned during the pollen season.
Get Clean Carpets to Alleviate Seasonal Allergies
Professional carpet cleaning is the best solution to get rid of all the allergens that get stuck in the fibers, such as pollen, dust, and pet dander. If you are suffering from spring allergies, contact Hydra Clean Northwest to discuss carpet cleaning and how it can help bring you relief.