Indoor allergies: Could your house be making you sick?
Do you have indoor allergies? If you answered yes, you are part of the more than 55 percent of Americans who sneeze, cough, and cry their way through allergy season every year. But what if your allergies aren’t confined to ragweed season? What if, no matter what you do or where you are, you just can’t stop sneezing and coughing? What if it is the inside of your house that’s making you sick?
You walk through the door after a sneeze-free day and Wham! You’re hit with a fit of sneezing and coughing. Chances are, you’ve got indoor allergies. In addition to the sneezing and coughing, other symptoms include: • Dry, scratchy throat • Itchy, watering eyes • Runny nose Indoor allergy symptoms can often mimic cold symptoms. If you have symptoms that last for only a few days and are accompanied by fever and chills, it’s probably a cold rather than allergies.
Most of the time, indoor allergies are caused by things you can’t see, and didn’t even know were lurking in your home. Some of the most common offenders are: • Dust. Dust can be made up of minute particles of skin, soil, animal matter, insect parts, food, and fiber. • Dust mites. Dust mites are tiny little creatures that live on…dust. Their droppings are one of the most common triggers of indoor allergies. Although you will find them all over the house, the most common places are the ones like your bedroom and bathroom, and in the carpets and rugs. These are places where there is either a high concentration of human skin cells, high humidity, or both. • Mold. Mold and mildew spread by shedding tiny spores into the air, and it’s these spores that trigger your allergies. • Pet dander. You are not actually allergic to the dog. You’re allergic to the dander in his fur. And even if you don’t have a pet in your home, pet dander sticks to just about anything, so chances are you are tracking it in on your shoes and clothing. • Cockroaches. These hardy little pests are found just about everywhere. And like dust mites, it’s not the bug itself that you’re allergic to, but rather the droppings.
If your home is making you sick, there are two ways to figure out what the problem is. You can either use the “trial and error” method or have allergy testing done. Trial and error involve keeping track of where you are when your allergies hit and examining your surroundings for clues. Look for patterns and see if you can narrow them down. Most likely, though, you will need to see an allergist and have testing performed. While you may not be able to eliminate all of the pests in your home, the doctor will be able to make suggestions to help minimize the problem and get you back to yourself. Sometimes getting rid of carpet or pets will help to cut down on the allergens, and sometimes medication or allergy shots will help to alleviate the problem. But the good news is, you usually don’t have to suffer—something can be done!