There are many allergens in the environment which can trigger an allergic symptom in somebody. These allergens make life difficult if they are present indoors where one tends to feel safe and lets their guard down. But we must know how to identify the most common culprits of allergies and also have to learn how to deal with them.
But before we do that, we need to learn about some basic terms
What Are Allergies?
An allergy is a sensitive reaction. It is the reaction which the immune system puts out when encountered with a foreign substance. It is this exposure to an allergen that triggers the reaction. You experience an allergic reaction when an allergen particle rests in the linings if the nose, eyes or airways.
5 Common Home Allergens
Dust mites are very common allergens which are present indoors. They are usually found in beddings, beds, clothes or upholstered furniture. Many people confuse being sensitive to dust mites as being sensitive dust.
Mold is a kind of fungus which has no leaves, stems or roots. Molds are generally found outdoors but they can definitely also be found in an indoor environment. Molds can trigger asthma symptoms and hay fever symptoms in people.
They reproduce by releasing the spores into the air, which then float around till they find a hospitable environment. Molds grow well where there is an excess of humidity and heat.
It should be kept in mind that not all mold is visible and they can even grow in unseen areas of the house. But these areas generally tend to be damp areas
Many people express an allergic reaction to pets. They find it hard to be around cats, dogs, hamsters, gerbils and other such furry animals. Any close contact with such animals results in symptoms like stuffy nose, asthma, itchy eyes and sneezing.
There is a common misconception regarding allergies related to pets- that it is caused by the hair of the animal. It isn’t the truth as the allergic reaction is caused by the urine, saliva and dander (dead skin flakes) of the animal.
Many people don’t even want to consider the fact that insects might be living in their houses. But it is a fact of life that they indeed do. If you live in an urban crowded area, in a warm climate like Singapore or in an older multifamily dwelling then the chances of there being cockroaches are high, even if you yourself haven’t seen them.
But remember that cockroaches like places which are moist and where food is available. That’s why a kitchen is their favorite place but they can be anywhere in the house. Moreover, the problem increases more when they die as their bodies then break apart and become part of the house dust.
House dust is basically an airborne mixture which can contain fine particles of plant and soil materials, human and animal skin, fabric fibres, mold spores, dust mites, insect dust, food particles and more such debris.
House dust differs depending on the age and type of the house you live in, what things you keep in your house as well as the humidity and temperature of the house.
It should be kept in mind that some dust is always present in every home regardless of how thoroughly it might get cleaned. The worst part about house dust is that allergies due to it might last all year long as well.
Steps to control indoor allergens
- Keep clean: To control dust mites, keep the surfaces of your home uncluttered and clean. It is advisable that you keep the floors and walls bare, especially in the bedroom where you have to spend about one-third of your daily time. Along with this, also avoid wall to wall carpets if possible. But if you absolutely need a carpet then use low pile carpets or washable throw rugs. Along with this, also avoid using heavy drapes or overstuffed fabric furniture. Make sure your aircon-filters are washed regularly to filter the air effectively.
- Use Covers: Use allergen resistant zippers or plastic covers on your mattresses, box springs and pillows. These covers are really effective in limiting contact with dust and dust mites. Apart from just encasing your bedding, you should also wash it and then dry them in hot dryer cycles to kill the dust mites.
- Vacuuming: You should vacuum only once or twice a week. This is because vacuuming helps in keeping the allergens low. But also keep in mind that poor quality vacuums can put dust into the air instead of removing it. To prevent such situations, use certified allergy and asthma friendly vacuums.
Various kinds of allergens are present in every house but it is important that appropriate care is taken to get rid of them and keep yourself safe. Not maintaining cleanliness in the house can give rise to bigger problems than allergies. So it’s better to take steps first and remove the issue at its core.