Tips to Ease Indoor Allergies at Home

Is your house filled with allergy triggers you cannot see?

Medically Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD on July 08, 2008

Try these simple tips to control allergens that may lurk in your home.

Shower Power:Pollen sticks to everything. Shower, wash hair, and change clothing if you've been outdoors during heavy pollen times.

Sleep's Secrets:Sleep relieves stress and helps your body heal when fighting allergy symptoms.

Fixer Upper: Updating your house? Hardwood floors are a great amenity -- and perfect for allergy-prone families.

TLC for the AC: Don't take your air conditioner for granted. Change the filter every month or so. Clean air ducts at least once a year.

Hibernation Season: When pollen count or pollution levels are high, hibernate. Try indoor exercise -- stretching, yoga and weight training.

Steam Heat: Vacuuming or steam cleaning upholstered furniture and carpets -- and doing it often -- helps control allergens.

Separate Rooms: Room air cleaners can be a breath-saver -- in the bedroom, kitchen, TV room, office, or wherever you spend lots of time.

Filter It Out: Use air conditioning during warm, humid months. You'll filter out 99% of all pollen and allergen-producing materials.

Beware the Breeze: Wash bed linens in hot water to kill dust mites. And use the dryer. Hanging clothes in the breeze brings allergens inside.

Tough Love: Many people are sensitive to animal dander and saliva. Wash pets often. Banish them from the bedroom. Send Fido outside.

Infant Insomnia: Chronic insomnia in infants has been linked to allergies to cow's milk proteins. Does your infant need an allergy test?

Toy Terrors: Children's stuffed toys can harbor dust mites. Buy ones that are washable so you can clean them regularly.

Pillow Talk: Keep dust mites out of the bedroom. Box springs, mattresses, and pillows should be enclosed in zippered allergen-proof casings.

Nightly News: Even if night temperatures are cool, keep windows closed. Air-conditioning keeps pollen and mold out.

Hobby Hazards: Could a hobby worsen your asthma? Paint fumes, wood dust, and other irritants in the air can trigger and aggravate airways.

Got a Basement? Then you've likely got mold. Install a dehumidifier, and clean it often. Stay upstairs as much as possible.

Mite Not: Want to control dust mites in bedrooms? Replace carpets with hardwood floors. Attach cheesecloth over air vents. Ban fuzzy blankets.

Deal With Dry Air: A little moisture in the air makes breathing easier for most. Turn on the humidifier if your house is dry.

Inside Job: Don't hang clothes out to dry -- you'll bring in loads of pollen and mold. The clothes dryer is your friend.

Food or Mold Allergy? Runny nose, itchy eyes, rash, and wheezing are mold allergy symptoms. Mold grows in basements,but also on food like cheese.

Get Bold With Mold: Banish mold from your bathrooms. Clean with mold-killing products. Use exhaust fans to vent steam. Wash shower curtains.

Cleaner Crisis: Most vacuums don't pick up tiny allergens. They stir them up instead. Get a vacuum with a HEPA filter. It makes all the difference.

Duct Season: Before turning on heat the first time, get ducts cleaned. Otherwise, you'll get blasted with mold and other allergens.

Moldy Oldies: Mold grows on old bread -- but also on cheese, mushrooms, dried fruits, soy sauce, sour cream, and hot dogs. Got a mold allergy?

Cleaning Crisis: House cleaning is a good thing, but cleaning agents can cause serious airway irritations. Good ventilation is key.

Humidity. Too Much or Too Little: Mold and dust mites thrive in moist environments. Keep the humidity in your house between 40% and 20% to control allergens and still breathe comfortably.

Awake With Allergies: Stuffy nose, postnasal drip -- these allergy symptoms can wreak havoc on sleep. Could allergies be causing your insomnia?

Got You Covered: Your air vents push allergens into every room. Cover bedroom vents with cheesecloth -- and replace when soiled.

In Hot Water: Check your water heater. Wash sheets and pillowcases in hot water -- at least 130 F -- to kill dust mites.

Got Ragweed Allergy? Then you're likely sensitive to bananas, cucumbers, melons, zucchini, sunflower seeds, and chamomile tea.

Your "Om" Home: Stressed? Try meditation. Stress makes allergy symptoms worse -- and meditation is a fast-acting stress reliever.

Misery Mystery: If seasonal allergies are triggering sinus infections, it's time for allergy treatment. See an allergist.

Stuffed Up? Could it be a sinus infection? Facial pain -- and thick nasal discharge for over 7 days -- are a few symptoms.

Shower Spa: Stuffed up? Take a hot shower. A steamy bathroom helps to open and thin the mucus in your sinuses.

Dry, Itchy Skin?Eczema is common in people with allergies. Cold compresses can help relieve itching. Be sure to use lotions to keep skin moist.

Rip It Up: Carpets and throw rugs collect dust, mites, and mold. Rip up wall-to-wall carpeting. Make sure small rugs are washable.

Sweet Heat: Warm compresses on a child's face can help soothe sinus pressure and pain.

Wrap It Up: In fall, indoor allergens are our biggest pests. To control bedroom dust mites, wrap your pillows, mattress, and box springs in special allergen-proof covers.

Time to Winterize: Fixing leaks around windows and doors helps cut heating bills. It also keeps allergens outside.

Keep It Closed: Keep windows closed, even if temperatures are milder. You'll keep outdoor allergens where they should be -- outdoors.

Arid Home Air: Your home heating system dries indoor air, which can lead to sinus infections. A humidifier bumps humidity to 50%.

Tricked by Treats:Food allergies can cause a serious reaction. If your child is allergic to nuts or other foods, check candy carefully.

Show Sources


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology web site.

WebMD Medical Reference: Allergies Guide.

WebMD Medical Reference: Asthma Guide.

WebMD Feature: "Tips for Handling Allergies in School."

WebMD Feature: "Living With Chronic Allergies."

WebMD Medical News.

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