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Allergies Health Center

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Allergy-Proof Your Environment

Medicines can help ease your stuffy nose and itchy eyes once they strike, but you also can take steps to prevent symptoms.

Allergy-Proof Your Home

  • Keep windows closed and use air conditioning if you're allergic to pollen. Don't use fans. They can stir up dust.
  • Filter the air. Cover air conditioning vents with cheesecloth to catch pollen, and use HEPA filters. Clean air filters often.
  • Keep the humidity in your house below 50% to prevent mold growth.
  • If you have pets, keep them out of the bedroom and be sure to bathe them often.
  • Avoid areas where molds may collect, including basements, garages, crawl spaces, barns, and compost heaps. Have someone else clean these areas often.
  • Put dehumidifiers in basements and other areas of the house where mold tends to collect. Clean them every week.
  • Make sure shoes and clothes are dry before storing.
  • Take wet clothes out of the washing machine right away, so mold doesn’t grow.
  • Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles with mold-killing solutions.
  • Don't overwater indoor plants. Soil encourages mold growth.
  • Store firewood outside.
  • Use hypoallergenic covers for pillows, mattresses, and box springs. Avoid overstuffed furniture and down-filled bedding or pillows.
  • Wash your bedding every week in hot water.
  • Don’t let anyone smoke in your house.
  • Wear a mask and gloves when you clean, vacuum, or paint to limit dust and chemical exposure.
  • Vacuum twice a week.
  • Limit throw rugs to reduce dust and mold. Make sure rugs are washable.
  • Choose hardwood or vinyl floors instead of carpeting. If you must have carpeting, choose low-pile.
  • Avoid dust-collecting blinds or long drapes. Use window shades instead.
  • Make sure there is an exhaust fan over the stove to remove cooking fumes.

When You're Outdoors

  • Keep walks in wooded areas.
  • Check the forecast. Stay indoors as much as possible on hot, dry, windy days when pollen counts are generally highest.
  • Try to avoid extreme temperature changes. They are triggers for some people with asthma.
  • If possible, stay indoors in the early morning, when pollen counts are usually highest.
  • Wear a mask (like a low-cost painter's mask) when mowing the lawn if you are allergic to grass pollen or mold. Better yet, get someone else to mow your lawn.
  • Wear a mask when gardening, if pollen bothers you.
  • Avoid raking leaves or working with hay or mulch if you are allergic to mold.
  • After being outdoors, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes to remove pollen.
  • To protect yourself from insect stings, wear shoes, long pants, and sleeves. Do not wear scented deodorants, perfumes, shampoos, or hair products.
  • Don't hang clothes or linens outdoors to dry, as pollen and molds may collect in them and can make your allergies worse.

Allergy-Proof When You're Traveling

  • Pack your allergy drugs in your carry-on bag.
  • Bring an extra supply of medication in case you need them.
  • Ask for a non-smoking room.
  • Ask for non-allergenic pillows. Or bring your own hypoallergenic pillow cover from home.
  • If possible, keep the vent on the room air conditioner shut.
  • Eat in smoke-free restaurants.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on November 07, 2012

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