American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI)
March 13, 2019
Lots of people view the coming of spring as an opportunity to clean out winter’s cobwebs and freshen up their home. It’s also a chance to get rid of allergens that have been settling in over the winter and help ease your spring allergy and asthma symptoms.
“If you aren’t someone who regularly undertakes spring cleaning, consider tackling it this year,” says allergist Todd Mahr, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “A thorough cleaning helps get rid of things like dust, mold, pet dander and other allergens which may have been making you miserable all winter. Many people think spring and fall is when their seasonal allergies kick in. They might not realize indoor allergens can also cause chaos with your nasal passages and lungs and that a thorough cleaning can help.”
Below are five tips from ACAAI to improve your spring cleaning and ease your allergies and asthma.
- Fresh air? Don’t open that window! – Although spring breezes are very tempting, it’s better if you keep windows closed during the spring allergy season. Breezes and open windows can bring in unwanted pollen that can make your allergies flare. Keep windows closed, including in your car where you should use your air conditioning system as a first line of defense.
- Get rid of Fluffy and Fido’s dander – Pets are awesome, but if you are allergic to their dander, it can build up over the winter and make your allergy and asthma symptoms worse. Along with dander, which is what generally causes the allergic reaction, levels of fur and saliva can build up. The best way to remove pet allergens is to vacuum frequently and wash upholstery, including your pet’s bed. Always keep your pet out of the bedroom to help you sleep symptom-free.
- Be bold. Banish the mold – Mold can grow anywhere there is water and if you have a mold allergy, that’s a big problem. Reducing moisture is the key to eliminating mold, which can be found in your basement, bathroom, kitchen or in a pile of dead leaves in your backyard. Use bathroom fans and clean up any standing water immediately. Scrub any visible mold from surfaces with detergent and water and then make sure surfaces are completely dry. Help prevent mold by keeping home humidity below 60 percent and cleaning gutters regularly.
- Use an arsenal to blast allergens – It’s not easy to clean your whole house, but there are some tools that can help. Change your air filters every three months and use filters with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Vacuum regularly to help reduce the presence of dust mites. Use a cyclonic vacuum, which spins dust and dirt away from the floor, or a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Wash bedding and stuffed animals weekly.
- Start medications before symptoms begin – Although spring starts in March, spring allergy symptoms can begin much earlier. Start taking your allergy medications two to three weeks before your symptoms usually begin to appear to lessen your worst symptoms. Talk to your allergist if over the counter medicines aren’t helping.
It’s probably not possible to entirely rid your home of allergens. That’s where a board-certified allergist can help. Allergists are specially trained to help you take control of your allergies and asthma, so you can live the life you want. Find an allergist in your area with the ACAAI allergist locator.