A whopping 25% of us are thought to suffer from allergies of some sort. From mould to the family dog, there are all sorts of allergens lurking in the home that can give you nasty side effects like itching, sneezing, wheezing and even headaches.
Thankfully, there are some simple ways to reduce indoor allergy symptoms so families can enjoy a comfortable, allergy-free winter.
1. Beat dust mites
Around 1 in 5 of us are allergic to the house dust mite’s droppings, with symptoms ranging from wheezing and itching to muscle aches. Dust mites love warmth and moisture, so can often be found in carpets, curtains and bedding – particularly once the heating goes on and the weather gets damp outside.
If you are experiencing symptoms of dust mite allergy (read more here), there are some simple ways you can reduce the number of their allergenic droppings, and therefore reduce your symptoms. The key ways to manage their levels are to use dust mite proof bedding, allergy sprays and an air purifier or steriliser. A dehumidifier will also have a significant effect on the dust mite population, as they need warm, humid air to survive.
2. Tackle mould
Mould allergy is surprisingly common, but even non-allergic people can experience unpleasant symptoms as a result of exposure to mould spores.
Mould in the home can be lurking in places you may not expect. Although mouldy walls and windows are relatively easy to spot, many moulds are invisible to the human eye. They can also be found in indoor plants, Christmas trees and old air conditioning units.
When an allergic person inhales mould spores, their body mistakenly recognises them as dangerous invaders. The body produces IgE antibodies specific to mould to fight them off. The antibodies stick to mast cells in tissue, waiting to strike at the next exposure to the mould allergen. During this time, the mast cells absorb chemicals in the blood such as histamine. When the person next comes into contact with the mould allergen, the immune system goes into ‘attack’ mode. The mast cells release the absorbed chemicals, including histamine, which cause the characteristic allergy symptoms like itching, sneezing and rhinitis.
People can be allergic to one kind of mould without being allergic to the other. Common allergy-causing moulds include penicillium, aspergillus and cladosporium.
In non-allergic people, mould can still cause an infection or reaction. Symptoms of this are varied, and can range from skin infections to headaches, fatigue and depression. People with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (M.C.S.) are more likely to be allergic to mould as it emits MVOCs (Mould Volatile Organic Compounds) when in an active growth phase. M.C.S. sufferers often experience unpleasant, allergy-like reactions after exposure to such pollutants.
The bottom line is that it’s always a good idea to reduce mould in the home. We normally recommend that you measurethe mould levels in your home by using a home test kit like MouldCheck. Upon analysing the results of this, you should be able to see whether or not you have a mould issue in your home that needs to be addressed.
To remove mould spores, an air steriliser such as Airfree or Radic8 is ideal, as they kill the mould spores in the air rather than just trapping them in a filter. A dehumidifier is also a wise choice, to remove humidity which facilitates the growth of mould. Ensure any leaks in the home are resolved by a professional.
If you already own a pet, chances are you’ve become attached to it and the thought of giving it away doesn’t bear thinking about. But if pet allergy symptoms are causing you misery, there are some simple ways to reduce your exposure to the pet allergens and feel more comfortable. Keeping your pet out of the bedroom or confined to one area is always a good idea where possible. There are also many excellent, cost effective topical treatments and sprays available that can significantly reduce pet allergy symptoms. Read more here.
4. Household products
Some people, particularly those suffering with M.C.S., can be sensitive to V.O.Cs and harsh chemicals, commonly found in household products such as detergents, kitchen and bathroom cleaners and paint. We recommend looking for natural or organic products wherever possible, since laundry and cleaning products can be a major source of exposure to unwanted chemicals. Click here to see a range of household products that we feel are safe to use around the home, given their lack of harsh chemicals. Please make sure you read the ingredients of each product before you purchase, as not all our products are fragrance free - some contain essential oils, which some chemically sensitive people may react to.
When decorating in the home, many people experience headaches, tiredness and dizziness. The classic ‘fresh paint’ smell is indicative of the release of VOCs from the paint into the air, a process known as ‘off-gassing’. The long-term effects of exposure to paint fumes are unknown, but given the intensity of the short-term effects that some experience (particularly those with M.C.S), you may feel safer using a VOC-free, solvent-free organic paint. The ECOS range is just that, and comes in 180 colours. Click here to view the range.
Not sure where to start when tackling your allergy symptoms? Call our friendly, knowledgeable team during office hours on 0845 450 5950 and we’ll try our best to help.