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Allergies Health Center

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Living With Severe Allergies

Experts share 3 strategies to cope with chronic allergies.

Controlling Dust Mites continued...

Put barriers between you and those mites, he says, by buying and using the allergy-proof covers for bedding.

Miller suggests allergy-proof encasings for the mattress, pillows, and box springs. "The mites feed on skin cells, and they live on your bed. They dig down into the mattress. The encasings don't allow them to penetrate into the mattress."

Pay close attention to the cleanliness of your bedding, too, to avoid allergens. Wash it weekly in hot water that is 130 F or higher, Williams says, to kill the critters. Newer models of washers may be capable of heating the water this hot, he says, but "most of the time you have to turn up the water heater."

His advice: "Turn it up and measure the water the next day, 12 to 24 hours later, with a candy thermometer. If there are kids in the home, turn it up a day before you do the wash [and then lower it later, to reduce the risk of scalding]."

Using a dehumidifier to keep the humidity lower than 50% can help control your dust-mite population, according to experts at the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Controlling Pollen

While some allergy-prone people take great pains to plant so-called ''low-allergy" trees and shrubs, it's not foolproof. "Pollen can travel great distances," Miller says.

"Even if your yard has 'low allergy' trees, pollen can come from miles away," Miller says.

With pollen, agrees Gupta, "There's only so much you can do without having to live in a bubble. If you are indoors, keep your windows shut, use the air conditioner, drive with the car windows shut."

Controlling Mold

Molds are more an outdoor problem than indoor, says Williams, unless your plumbing indoors is leaking. If the bathroom shower or tub gets a little mold ring around it, he says, it typically won't bother the allergy-prone unless it's disturbed and the spores become airborne.

To get rid of household mold, apply a cleaning solution of 5% bleach and a small amount of detergent, suggest experts from the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology.

Outdoors, airborne mold from vegetation can trigger an allergic reaction, too. Allergic reactions to mold are most common from July to late summer, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.

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