Your home is your castle -- except when you’re allergic to it. A recent nationwide survey found that over half of all Americans test positive for at least some allergens, and many of these are indoor allergies such as dust, mold, and pet dander.
How can you allergy-proof your home to make it a refuge, not a source of sneezes? Take a tour of your house from room to room, find out where the allergens are lurking, and get relief from indoor allergies.
Here's a wild guess: When an allergy attack hits and leaves you sneezing and itching, with teary eyes and a nose that is runny and stuffed, you probably aren't much in the mood for romance.
It may sound obvious that drippy noses don't bring out the sex kitten in people. But for the first time, a study has looked at the impact allergies have on our sex lives and found that many people with chronic allergic rhinitis, or hay fever, often put the kibosh on sex when symptoms are flaring.
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“This is the most allergen-prone room in your house, because the most common indoor allergen is dust mites,” says James Sublett, MD, an allergist in Louisville, Ky.
The single most important thing you can do for dust mite allergies is to put hypoallergenic casings on your beds, mattresses, box springs, and especially the pillows. “They’re right in your face all the time, so they particularly need allergy casings,” says Sublett.
You can also reduce the presence of dust mites in your beds by using only washable bedding. Many people may pile their beds with fancy quilts, throw pillows, and wool blankets that aren’t washed regularly.
“If you move them around at night when you’re getting ready for bed, you stir up the particulate found in these linens,” says Sublett.
This applies to stuffed animals in children’s bedrooms as well. Instead of piling stacks and stacks of cuddly toys on the bed, limit the furry friends to one or two favorites that are washable. (Take a look at the label -- many stuffed animals are marked “surface clean only.”) Your child’s linens and stuffed animals should be washed in hot water at least once a week.
Remove carpets from the bedroom (and elsewhere in the house as well if you can). A smooth-surfaced floor reduces the dust mite particles that accumulate in carpets.
Keep pets out of the bedroom and most certainly off your bed. “Even if you’re not actually allergic to the pet dander, they can bring allergens into the bedroom and onto the bed on their fur,” notes Sublett.
The bedroom is also a good place for a HEPA air filter to clean bedroom air. (This is not an “air purifier,” which is a different product and does nothing for allergies).