By Marti Schuman
Living in South Mississippi can feel like a never-ending allergy season for those easily affected by elements like pollen and those suffering from inflamed sinuses. We can’t control Mother Nature and the air quality outdoors, but we can focus on our indoor living conditions to help create cleaner air and reduce allergy symptoms like headaches, stuffy nose, sneezing, nasal drip, itchy or watery eyes, rashes and cough.
Allergy triggers occupy every room in your home, but there is a lot you can do to help eliminate or control common allergens. Most experts recommend a room-by-room approach for banishing pollen, pet dander, smoke, mold and dust mites. Here is how to eliminate or reduce their effects.
Generally, we spend the most time in the bedroom, so start the process of allergy-proofing there. Purchase dust mite-proof covers for your pillows, mattresses and box springs. Wash your bedding, including comforters, at least once a week in water above 130 degrees. Hard flooring is best in bedrooms to keep clean and free of allergens. If you have carpet, vacuum weekly with a vacuum cleaner that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Window treatments, including blinds, should be cleaned weekly. As hard as it may be, if you have pets, keep them out of the bedroom. Keep windows closed and run a HEPA filter while you sleep.
Mold and moisture rule in bathrooms. Take steps to eliminate as much moisture as possible. Run the exhaust fan during and after showers to quickly move steam out of the room. Use mildew-resistant rugs and remove fabric window coverings. Towel-dry the tub or shower after each use, replace moldy shower curtains or liners and clean the tub, tiles, sink, toilet and floor weekly. Use a 5 percent chlorine bleach solution to kill any visible mold. Most people don’t know that some household cleaners require a period of time to elapse for the product to be the most effective. This is true for bleach products. Check the label for details.
The goal in the kitchen is also to control moisture. Use an exhaust fan to vent steam from cooking. Wipe down all surfaces. Keep the sink empty and dry. Check the refrigerator for moldy food and remove immediately, and empty water from the drip pan on a regular basis.
The key is to have as few places as possible for particles to collect. Knick-knacks give our living space personality, but be mindful that the dust that collects on or around them could be hindering your ability to shake those nagging allergy symptoms.
Being consistent about allergy-proofing may seem daunting at first, but the comfort you’ll enjoy will be worth it!
If you are not sure whether you’re suffering from allergies, visit one of Memorial’s 16 walk-In clinics, listed at gulfportmemorial.com, or call (228) 867-5000.
Schuman is a public relations specialist at Memorial Hospital at Gulfport. Reach her at Mschuman@mhg.com.