- Dust Mite Covers – Dust mite covers or encasements are made of impermeably woven sheets that cover pillows, mattresses, and box springs, serving as an effective method of dust mite allergen control. These encasements serve as a barrier method by preventing the release of dust mite allergens in our beds.Dust mite allergen is a major cause of perennial allergies. There is a misconception that we become allergic to these microscopic creatures thinking that they bite us. However, humans are not allergic to the actual dust mite itself; they are allergic to its waste or excretions and the debris it leaves behind.Dust mites feed on our skin flakes; therefore they migrate toward our beds and other places where we spend a lot of time. Dust mite encasements can be purchased online in allergy supply stores.
- Portable Air Cleaners – Portable Air Cleaners purify air by sucking it into the device and having it pass through a filter. The portable air cleaners or purifiers use extremely effective filters such as HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter or an electrostatic filter that can trap up to 99.9% of allergens such as cat or dog allergen, mold spores, pollens and dust mites.Portable air purifiers or cleaners are not, however, the most effective means in decreasing dust mite allergen load in a home. The reason is dust mite allergen is a relatively “heavy” allergen; this means it only stays airborne for a brief time, not enough time for the air cleaner to suck the allergen into the machine.Portable air cleaners are most effective when used to filter out allergens that tend to stay in the air for several hours (“light” allergens), like pet allergens, pollen, and mold. Be sure to check that its size is appropriate to the square footage of the area where it will be used when choosing a portable air cleaner. Portable air cleaners can be purchased at most hardware stores, department stores, online, or at allergy stores.
- Air Filters
Air filters can be used in the furnace or outflow vents to help clean the indoor air of allergens. HEPA or electrostatic filters can be obtained for a furnace to be used as a centralized air cleaner instead of having portable air cleaners. This option is both economical and practical especially with most modern homes having centralized heating and air-conditioning systems.
It is important to be knowledgeable on the type of available filters. HEPA and electrostatic filters have been proven to work; however caution must be made with “electronic” filters. It is important to distinguish electrostatic from an electronic filter because electronic filters produce ozone that could aggravate asthma or potentially make someone more susceptible to develop asthma.
HEPA air filters should be changed every 3 months and can be purchased at most hardware stores, department stores or online allergy control supply stores. Electrostatic filters also need to be cleaned every 3 months.
Both centralized and window units help regulate the humidity and temperature of indoor air to a comfortable level. This is particularly important for patients with respiratory problems such as asthma or COPD who develop breathing difficulty with exposure to warm, humid air, smog or “dirty” air. When used with the correct filter, these can help cleanse the air of aeroallergens.
The benefits of using air conditioning for allergy and asthma sufferers include:
- They keep outdoor allergens such as pollen and mold out of a living area
- They keep smog, smoke, diesel fumes and other harmful air particles from getting indoors
- They keep the indoor air humidity low and temperature controlled and regulated. A benefit of low indoor humidity is it prevents indoor mold growth, and makes conditions less conducive for dust mites to survive.
About Allergenic Plants
Your allergist can educate you on which plants can cause allergies. Some plants’ sap can cause contact skin allergies, while some cause respiratory allergies because of their pollen.
Not all plant pollen causes respiratory allergies. Plants that are generally bright and colorful, some would say beautiful plants, are least likely to cause respiratory allergies because they depend on insects for spreading. Therefore, their allergens are not light enough to be airborne for us to inhale. On the other hand, less colorful plants depend on the wind to spread pollen, and therefore are light enough to get inhaled, allowing our bodies to get sensitized and develop allergies. Your allergist can help you understand in detail why certain plants tend to cause allergies.
We know that smoking is very harmful to our bodies. In addition to causing heart disease, lung diseases and increasing the risk of many cancers, it increases our chances of getting sensitized and developing allergies and asthma. Research has shown that children exposed to second hand smoke over a period of time have an increased chance of developing asthma, and higher chance of getting sensitized to environmental aeroallergens. Every effort should be made to quit smoking. There are various methods and programs that can help you quit smoking. Ask your doctor how you can start a smoking cessation program.