Close to 60 million Americans suffer from allergies, the fifth leading cause of chronic disease in the United States (That is one in five people!) What most people do not realize is that the most common allergens come from inside the home. Not ironic to say the least, is that the percentage of the lives Americans spend indoors is estimated to be about 90%, and the degree by which levels of indoor pollution in U.S. homes exceed levels of outdoor pollution is two to 100 times!
Abnormal reactions are usually in the form of asthma, hay fever, eczema, hives and chronic stuffy nose (allergic rhinitis). Common symptoms include sneezing, itching, and skin rashes.
An allergic person is usually sensitive to more than one allergen. He/She may have one or several allergic diseases at the same time and may have different allergic diseases at different times of life. It is quite common for an allergic person to have eczema as a young infant, asthma as a child and hay fever as an adult; however, many people with allergies have periods in which they are free of symptoms.
Most people react to waste particles produced by dust mites, the biggest allergy culprit. Dust, mold and animal dander are the big three indoor allergy sources that trigger symptoms. Mold and dust mites thrive at high humidity. Relative humidity of 50% or below should be maintained inside the home (but any reduction in humidity will be beneficial because it leads to a decrease in possible mold growth and mite allergen production). During humid seasons, air conditioners and dehumidifiers are important tools for keeping indoor humidity at a low level. You can always plan on monitoring humidity with a gauge inside the home during dry seasons to avoid over-humidification.
Mold and mildew can grow in dark, damp areas around the home that tend to be poorly ventilated. Ridding the home of mold and mildew and preventing its future growth is an important step towards allergy prevention.
1. Keep humidity levels below 50% (a humidity gauge will indicate levels)
2. Avoid having carpet in bathrooms, basements and other damp areas
3. Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom(s)
4. Remove moldy items and use a dehumidifier to keep the basement dry
5. Clean all visible mold and use a mold inhibitor to prevent future growth
6. Use air cleaners and vent/furnace filters to remove airborne spores
7. Use convection heat units to reduce the spread of mold spores
8. Add a mold inhibitor to pain before applying
✦ emotional upset
✦ respiratory infection (such as colds, and irritating matter in the air such as smoke and strong perfumes)
✦ sudden changes in the weather
Research points to allergy as incurable. Rather, the symptoms are controlled by removing the offending substance from the person’s environment or diet, injection of the offending substance to build up a person’s immunity to them, taking a drug to control symptoms after the allergic disease has appeared and controlling aggravating factors such as emotional disturbance or infection.
Resources: Missouri University, EPA.gov, NPS.gov.