Medicines help treat allergy symptoms once they strike. But these easy steps can help you avoid having an attack no matter where you are.
- Keep windows closed and run the air conditioner 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 trap pollen. Use HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filters, and clean them often. Hire someone to clean out your air ducts at least once a year.
- Keep the humidity in your home below 50% to help prevent mold growth.
- If you have pets, consider keeping them outside. If your allergies are severe, you might ask someone else to take care of them. Animal dander and saliva are common allergens for many people. If you decide to keep your pets inside, don’t let them in your bedroom. Bathe them often, too.
- Avoid areas where mold can collect, like basements, garages, crawl spaces, barns, and compost heaps. Have someone else clean these areas often.
- Install dehumidifiers in your basement and other parts of the home where mold grows. Clean these devices every week.
- Get mold testing kits from a big-box store or hardware store. They’re easy to use and will tell you how much mold is in your home. If there’s a lot, you can work to get rid of it, especially in the rooms where you spend most of your time.
- Air out damp clothes and shoes inside before you store them.
- Remove laundry from the washing machine promptly. Don't leave wet clothes in the washer, where mold can quickly grow.
- Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles with mold-killing solutions.
- Don't collect too many indoor plants. Soil encourages mold growth.
- Store firewood outside.
- Use plastic 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 allow anyone to smoke in your home.
- Wear a mask and gloves when you clean, vacuum, or paint. That will limit your exposure to dust and chemicals.
- Vacuum once or twice a week.
- Limit how many throw rugs you keep to reduce dust and mold. If you do have them, make sure you can wash them.
- When possible, choose hardwood floors. If you must have carpeting, go with a low-pile option.
- Avoid dust-collecting Venetian blinds or long drapes. Replace old window coverings with shades or shutters.
- Install an exhaust fan over your stove to remove cooking fumes.
In the Car
- Keep windows closed, and set the air conditioner to use recirculated air if you’re allergic to pollen.
- Don't let anyone smoke.
In the Great Outdoors
- Take fewer walks in wooded areas or gardens.
- Check the forecast. Stay indoors as much as possible on hot, dry, windy days, when pollen counts are highest.
- Try to avoid extreme temperature changes -- they can triggers asthma.
- If you can, stay inside between 5 and 10 a.m., when outdoor pollen counts are highest.
- Wear a mask (a cheap painter's mask is OK) when you mow if you’re allergic to grass pollen or mold. But skip the task if someone else can do it. It smells great, but keep your distance from freshly cut grass, too, if you can.
- Wear a mask in the garden. Flowers and weeds give off pollen.
- Don’t rake leaves or work with hay or mulch if you’re allergic to mold.
- When you come back inside, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes. That’ll get rid of pollen that may have collected in your clothes and hair.
- To protect yourself from insect stings, wear shoes, long pants, and sleeves. Don’t use scented deodorants, perfumes, shampoos, or hair products.
- If you have severe allergies and your doctor has prescribed an epinephrine injector kit, carry it with you at all times.
- Don't hang clothes or linens out to dry. They’ll collect pollen and mold.
On the Road
- Pack medicines in your carry-on bag.
- Bring an extra supply of meds in case you need them.
In a Hotel
- Ask for a nonsmoking room.
- Remove feather pillows and ask for synthetic, nonallergenic pillows. Or bring your own plastic pillow cover from home.
- If possible, keep the vent on the room air conditioner shut.
Out for Dinner
- Choose smoke-free restaurants.
- Avoid ingredients that trigger your food allergies. Read menus carefully, and ask your sever how the dish is made. Choose fresh foods over prepared or processed ones. If you have an epinephrine shot kit, keep it with you at all times. If your doctor has prescribed two, keep them both nearby.
At Your Kid’s School
- Discuss your child's allergies with the staff.
- If she has food allergies, tell the front office, her teachers, and lunchroom workers.
- Teach your child about her allergies early. That’ll make her less likely to eat something that will trigger an allergic reaction.
- Leave one or two epinephrine kits at the school. Make sure the staff -- and your child, when she’s old enough -- are able to use it correctly.
- Tell them about any other medicines your child is taking. Make sure the school has doses of anything she needs.
- Encourage her to play sports, but let her coaches know if she needs to take medicine before she hits the field.