How to Conquer Your Allergies

Allergies can really get to you. But you don't have to suffer. Take these steps to control the things that trigger your reactions.

Pollen, mold, dust mites, and animal dander are some of the usual things that cause itchy eyes and congestion. To get rid of them, you can make changes in your home and your daily habits, as well as taking your medicine.

At Home

Keep windows closed and use air conditioning.

Clean air filters frequently and air ducts at least once a year.

Keep humidity in your house at 50% or below to prevent mold growth.

Install dehumidifiers in basements and other damp areas. Avoid moldy areas: basements, garages, crawl spaces, barns, and compost heaps.

Keep pets outside. If you must keep pets indoors, don’t allow them in bedrooms. And bathe them often.

Use special covers for pillows, mattresses, and box springs. You might want to get rid of overstuffed furniture or down-filled bedding/pillows, too.

Wash bedding in hot water every week to kill dust mites. Dry laundry in a dryer, not outside on a clothesline.

Wear a mask and gloves when you clean, so you limit your exposure to irritating chemicals.

Rethink your floors. If possible, hard surfaces are better than carpeting. Cut down on throw rugs, too.

Avoid dust-collecting window blinds and long drapes. Use window shades instead.

Vacuum with a double-layered microfilter bag or a HEPA filter. Wear a mask while you vacuum, and avoid the room for about 20 minutes to let the air settle back down.

Don’t smoke, and avoid secondhand smoke. It may aggravate your allergies.

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Outdoors

Check the forecast. Stay indoors on hot, dry, windy days when the pollen count is high. If mold is a problem, stay inside during rainy or windy days.

Time things right. Between 5 and 10 a.m., pollen counts are highest.

Rethink your yard work. Avoid being around freshly cut grass whenever possible. Mowing stirs up grass pollen. Flowers are loaded with pollen; so are many trees. Raking leaves stirs up mold spores. You’ll need to take your meds and limit your time, or ask someone to help you.

Wear a mask. If you must work in the yard, an inexpensive painter's mask will filter out some of the pollen as well as mold.

Take a shower. After being outdoors, get rid of allergens that may have collected in your clothes and hair. Take a shower, wash your hair, and change clothes.

Keep car windows closed, and close vents. Use air conditioning.

Pets

You’re allergic but want to keep your pet. Since there’s no completely “hypoallergenic” dog or cat, these strategies may help:

Make your bedroom off-limits. You spend a lot of time there, so if you keep your pet out of that room, that will help.

Dust with a damp cloth often. You might want to wear a mask when you do that.

Clean up after playtime. Wash your hands and change your clothes after you play with your pet.

WebMD Medical Reference Reviewed by Neha Pathak, MD on January 16, 2017

Sources

SOURCES:

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Pollen Allergy,” “Pet Allergy: Are You Allergic to Dogs or Cats?”

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences: “Pollen,” “Dust Mites,” “Pets,” “Cigarette Smoke.

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