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Complete avoidance of allergenic pollen or mold means moving to a place where the offending substance does not grow and where it is not present in the air. But even this extreme solution may offer only temporary relief since a person who is sensitive to a specific pollen or mold may subsequently develop allergies to new allergens after repeated exposure. For example, people allergic to ragweed may leave their ragweed-ridden communities and relocate to areas where ragweed does not grow, only to develop allergies to other weeds or even to grasses or trees in their new surroundings. Because relocating is not a reliable solution, allergy specialists do not encourage this approach.
There are other ways to evade the offending pollen: remaining indoors in the morning, for example, when the outdoor pollen levels are highest. Sunny, windy days can be especially troublesome. If individuals with pollen allergy must work outdoors, they can wear face masks designed to filter pollen out of the air and keep it from reaching their nasal passages. As another approach, some people take their vacations at the height of the expected pollinating period and choose a location where such exposure would be minimal. The seashore, for example, may be an effective retreat for many with pollen allergies.
Mold allergens can be difficult to avoid, but some steps can be taken to at least reduce exposure to them. First, the allergy sufferer should avoid those hot spots mentioned earlier where molds tend to be concentrated. The lawn should be mowed and leaves should be raked up, but someone other than the allergic person should do these chores. If such work cannot be delegated, wearing a tightly fitting dust mask can greatly reduce exposure and resulting symptoms. Travel in the country, especially on dry, windy days or while crops are being harvested, should be avoided as should walks through tall vegetation. A summer cabin closed up all winter is probably full of molds and should be aired out and cleaned before a mold-sensitive person stays there.
Around the home, a dehumidifier will help dry out the basement, but the water extracted from the air must be removed frequently to prevent mold growth in the machine.
Those with dust mite allergy should pay careful attention to dust-proofing their bedrooms. The worst things to have in the bedroom are wall-to-wall carpets, venetian blinds, down-filled blankets, feather pillows, heating vents with forced hot air, dogs, cats, and closets full of clothing. Shades are preferred over venetian blinds because they do not trap dust. Curtains can be used if they are washed periodically in hot water to kill the dust mites. Most important, bedding should be encased in a zippered, plastic, airtight, and dust-proof cover.
Although shag carpets are the worst type for the dust mite-sensitive person, all carpets trap dust and make dust control impossible. In addition, vacuuming can contribute to the amount of dust, unless the vacuum is equipped with a special high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Wall-to-wall carpets should be replaced with washable throw rugs over hardwood, tile, or linoleum floors. Rugs on concrete floors encourage dust mite growth and should be avoided.
Reducing the amount of dust mites in a home may require new cleaning techniques as well as some changes in furnishings to eliminate dust collectors. Water is often the secret to effective dust removal. Washable items should be washed often using water hotter then 130 (degrees) Fahrenheit. Lower temperatures will not kill dust mites. If the water temperature must be set at a lower value, items can be washed at a commercial establishment that uses high wash temperatures. Dusting with a damp cloth or oiled mop should be done frequently.
The best way for a person allergic to pets, especially cats, to avoid allergic reactions is to find another home for the animal. There are, however, some suggestions that help lower the levels of cat allergens in the air: bathe the cat weekly and brush it more frequently (ideally, this should be done by someone other than the allergic person), remove carpets and soft furnishings, and use a vacuum cleaner with a high-efficiency filter and a room air cleaner (see section below). Wearing a face mask while house and cat cleaning and keeping the cat out of the bedroom are other methods that allow many people to live more happily with their pets.
Irritants such as chemicals can worsen airborne allergy symptoms and should be avoided as much as possible. For example, during periods of high pollen levels, people with pollen allergy should try to avoid unnecessary exposure to irritants such as insect sprays, tobacco smoke, air pollution, and fresh tar or paint.
This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. You should not use this material to diagnose or treat a health condition or disease without consulting with your healthcare provider.
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