Pollen beware, this week is national allergy week! Set up to raise public and media awareness about the many different allergies that are now becoming increasingly common, from hay fever to allergies to cat hair and provide advice and information to allergy sufferers, this week will no doubt prove a god send to so many long suffering people around the UK. Allergies are so wide spread and so reactive to countless substances, materials and atmospheres that many of us will have an allergy that we don’t even know about!
So what exactly is an allergy? The term allergy is used to describe a response, within the body, to a substance, which is not necessarily harmful in itself, but results in an immune response and a reaction that causes symptoms and disease in a predisposed person, which in turn can cause inconvenience, or a great deal of misery. The most common allergens are: pollen from trees and grasses, house dust mite, moulds, pets such as cats and dogs, insects like wasps and bees, medicines, and foods such as milk and eggs.
The most common symptoms are: sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, severe wheezing, coughing shortness of breath, sinus problems, a sore palate and nettle-like rash and as any allergen sufferer will tell you, all are quite unbearable and can really ruin your day.
Whilst there is very little we can do about the atmosphere outside, there are lots of effective steps that can be taken towards making you home an allergen free environment. The first thing you should do is to buy an air cleaning machine or filter for your home. Air cleaners are machines that filter out dust, pollen and other allergens from the air and you will probably need one for each room. An air cleaner can only clean the air in a specific amount of space depending on how large the air cleaner is.
These cleaners have removable filters which can be replaced or clean when they get dirty. You can also purchase special filters to be fitted on your heating or air conditioning system that help to remove allergens from the air in the entire house depending on your heating and air conditioning set up. If you can’t afford filters at the very least you should put up ready made curtains or install vertical blinds at windows to provide a physical barrier to the pollen when windows are open
Your carpet is big culprit for harbouring dust mites and pet fleas. Removing wall to wall carpeting in favour of bare floors and area rugs will have a huge effect in terms of removing these allergens from your home. Dust mites live in carpeting and it is impossible to remove them and their droppings from your carpet and whilst steam cleaning may provide short term relief, it is not a long term solution.
Bare floors can be wiped with a damp mop daily to pick up any dust or pollen. It is especially important to remove the carpeting from the bedroom where the allergic person sleeps. The bedroom should be a sanctuary for clean breathing complete with an air conditioner. If you can’t remove the carpeting from the entire house, at the very least have it taken out of the bedroom.
This last pointer may prove unpopular, but without a doubt the biggest help to any family members who suffer from asthma or allergies is the removal of any pets- Rover pack your bags! While it may be hard to part with a pet, it will make a tremendous difference to the health of your loved ones. People who have needed daily doses of asthma medication have been known to cease medication all together after the pet had been removed from the home. So it really just boils down to a simple choice- who do you love more?!