Our homes are where we escape to when it’s time to relax and unwind. They are supposed to be our safe zones, replete with all the things we love. When we are feeling sick, it’s our homes that we most often want to escape to. So, when it’s your home itself that starts to make you sick, it’s a huge detriment to your quality of life.
Our homes can contain multiple allergy triggers that can leave you feeling rundown and stuffed up. People will avoid you, assuming you are ill, when it’s just allergies giving you those red eyes and that stuffed up nose. Some allergies can cause even more symptoms, including respiratory issues, coughing, hives, wheezing, and also the swelling of your eyes, lips, tongue, and face.
Allergies are incredibly common. They affect over 24 million people in the United States alone, including more than 6 million children.
Anyone who suffers from known allergies knows that the key to allergy symptom relief is exposure mitigation. However, if you don’t know what’s causing your symptoms, you will struggle to understand what you need to avoid and how to get your symptoms under control.
When something in your home starts to make you sniffle and sneeze, it can often be attributed to a common household allergen—but do you know what those allergens are and how to mitigate them? Here are the seven most common household allergens and how you can help alleviate your symptoms if you’re allergic to one of them.
We may adore our furry friends, but it’s an unfortunate fact that numerous people are allergic to them. Many people mistakenly believe they are allergic to pet fur, but in reality, it’s usually pet dander or saliva.
Pet dander is made up of microscopic particles of skin shed from the skin of dogs, cats, rodents, and even birds. These microscopic bits of skin can cause allergic reactions when inhaled or when it comes into contact with mucous membranes like eyes. Proteins found in the saliva, urine, and feces of pets can also cause allergic symptoms.
The most common advice people are given when they discover an allergy to their pets is to remove the pet from the home. Understandably, this is not something the majority of people are willing to do. If you are allergic to your pets, you can help alleviate your symptoms by regularly washing your hands after touching your pets and by avoiding
cleaning the litter box. Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum and try to keep your pets out of the bedroom. At its worst, some medications can be taken daily to mitigate symptoms.
2. House Dust
House dust is composed of many things like mold spores, pollen, dried food particles, pet dander, and insect parts, especially bits of dust mites and cockroaches. Interestingly, dust allergies are often caused by dust mites. These tiny bugs live in house dust and, when inhaled, can cause sneezing and a runny nose. They can also contribute to asthma symptoms.
To help prevent this, use allergen-proof bed covers and pillowcases and wash your bedding often in bleach or other hypoallergenic detergents. Keep the humidity in your home low, since dust mites like humid spots. Vacuum regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum and cut down on the clutter in your home.
Mold spores float through the air in many places, and we inhale them regularly. If you’re allergic to mold though, inhaling mold will give you an allergic reaction or asthma if you’re exposed to too much of it.
If you’re allergic to mold, your immune system will be triggered by their presence and cause sneezing, rashes, nasal congestions, and swelling of the mouth and lips.
Having mold in your home isn’t uncommon since it can form in many places. However, if your home has too much mold, then it can be a serious health risk. Certain types of mold, known as toxic mold, can cause respiratory issues. However, this is quite rare, and most household molds don’t negatively affect people.
If you do have a mold allergy, try to reduce the amount of humidity in your home and be sure to clean mold-prone areas like bathrooms and kitchens. Run dehumidifiers in your basement and be aware of a musty smell, especially in your storage areas. If you do spot mold, don’t just clean it, find the sources and use a commercial mold killer to kill the spores.
Most of us don’t ever want to consider the idea of cockroaches living in our homes, but they are a common household pest that can cause more than just a creepy feeling. If you live in a city, in an older home, especially a row-house, a large apartment building, or in a
warmer climate, cockroaches are common issues and are living in most of these places, even if they’re not seen. Cockroaches like kitchens for the damp, dark spots and the access to food, but they can end up anywhere in a home.
When cockroaches do die, their bodies break apart and become part of household dust. If you inhale this dust, you may experience allergic reactions. You could also be allergic to cockroaches’ feces, saliva, and the shedding of body parts.
If you have cockroaches and allergies, you can help mitigate the issue by keeping your house clean, especially in kitchen sinks, under cabinets, and fridges. Keep your food containers, and garbage cans sealed and don’t let piles of paper like newspaper and magazines build up. Finally, consult an exterminator to get rid of the cockroaches.
Pollen is a common allergy trigger that people prone to allergies learn to avoid when they’re outside. However, pollen can cause issues inside your home as well. If you commonly sleep with the windows open during pollinating seasons, this can exacerbate your symptoms. Also, if you bring cut flowers or dried flowers into your home, they can start to shed pollen as well.
Indoor plants are often leafier than they are flowering, which means they don’t usually trigger allergies. There are a couple offending indoor plants that should be avoided though. These include weeping fig and flowering maple, which can cause allergies.
Indoor plants are also a common source of mold, another one of our allergy triggers on this list. The warm, damp nature of indoor plants means they are ideal for growing mold. Plant terrariums and wicker basket planters are especially bad offenders and should be avoided.
One surprising allergy trigger? Christmas trees. These festive additions are often molding carriers.
6. Aerosol products and scented products
We often want our homes to be welcoming spaces, which means keeping them clean and fresh smelling. Unfortunately, the products we use to achieve that can be terrible allergy triggers for some. Air freshener sprays and scented candles can trigger allergy symptoms, aggravate existing allergies, and make asthma worse. Some of these lovely scents can contain VOCs—Volatile Organic Compounds—that help mask bad odors. Unfortunately, they can cause plenty of adverse side effects.
Even if you’re not allergic to scented products, VOCs can cause things like headaches, dizziness, nausea, and eye irritation.
Regularly cleaning your home and opening the windows to turn the air over will keep your home smelling fresh without risking allergies. If you still want pleasant scents in the home, you can make your air fresheners using essential oils, distilled water, and witch hazel combined in a spray bottle will create an easy, cheap room freshener. Beware of certain oils if you have pets though. Some essential oils negatively affect many cats and dogs and can cause health issues in your furry friends.
If you or someone in your home is a smoker, you most likely already know the dangers surrounding cigarette smoke. While not considered a traditional allergen, cigarette smoke is a terrible irritant for both smokers and non-smokers alike. Second-hand smoke can irritate the bronchial passages of people with asthma and increase the chances of people developing asthma.
It’s recommended that if you’re a smoker and you have allergies or asthma; you should do everything you can to quit. Join a quit smoking program to prevent the smoke from continuing to irritate your lungs and causing worse health issues.
If you smoke in the home, it’s recommended you alter your patterns to smoke outside—especially if you have children. Children are more susceptible to the negative effects of cigarette smoke since they are still developing and also breathe more rapidly, which causes them to inhale more quickly.
If you are experiencing allergies If you’re noticing that allergies are affecting you in your home, see an allergy specialist. Before making any medical decisions on your own, it’s essential to see a medical professional who will conduct a series of allergy tests to confirm what is actually causing your allergy symptoms so that you can eliminate the trigger. If your pets cause your allergies, know that there any many alternative treatments you can do and many steps you can take before considering giving any your pet.