With the hot and humid weather of summer, the symptoms of allergies are in full swing for many. If you suffer from the ‘wheezes and sneezes,’ there are 10 things you must be aware of according to Robin Wilson, an ambassador for the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, and author of Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle.
1. Fruit is not always your friend – Many of our favorite fruits, from apples and bananas to peaches and plums can cause symptoms similar to grass or tree pollen reactions. If you are sensitive, place the fruit in the microwave for 10 seconds to deactivate the proteins, and never eat the peel.
2. Cleaner is not always better – In general, the old saying “Cleanliness is next to godliness” is true. However, a little exposure to dirt and germs is actually a good thing, because it strengthens the immune system. When cleaning, always use a non-toxic cleaner, and remove excess books, magazines and other clutter from the sleeping area to reduce dust build up.
3. Vintage pillow equals heavy symptoms – If your pillow is older than three years and has not been washed, it weighs more now than when you bought it. It’s loaded with dust mites that are next to your face while you sleep. Use hypoallergenic pillows over down pillows, and use a zippered pillow protector that you wash weekly for a double barrier. Wash your pillow twice a year and replace pillows every three years.
4. There’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog – Poodles, Labradoodles and Yorkshire terriers are all considered hypoallergenic because they don’t shed hair, but there’s no scientific proof that these breeds produce lower amounts of Can f 1, the most common dog allergen. Avoid exposure to pets, never allow them on the bed and always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after playing with an animal.
5. Tear out the carpet – Tile and hardwood floors are a much better choice, but must be vacuumed or cleaned on a regular basis to eliminate dirt and dust. Shake out and vacuum area rugs on a regular basis, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. I recommend the Honeywell True HEPA Air Purifier to keep your home’s air as clean and safe as possible. The true HEPA filter captures up to 99.97% of microscopic airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander, that pass through the filters (that is as small as 0.3 microns–250x smaller than the width of a human hair!)
6. Always use a nylon shower curtain liner – Allergy sufferers are told to shower often to remove pollen and pet dander from their bodies. But the phthalate chemicals in vinyl shower curtains off-gas with humidity and heat, and also attract mold and mildew. Replace your vinyl liner with a nylon shower curtain liner.
7. Watch out for indoor mold – Mold is a huge trigger for allergies and asthma, and it’s more prevalent than you realize. Watch for mold in the dishwasher and refrigerator pan which can build up quickly and with very little warning; on your air conditioning system; and on any wood, paper or cotton materials that sit in water for too long.
8. Freeze stuffed toys – Your child’s favorite stuffed animals can harbor dust mites which can trigger allergies and asthma. Freeze all stuffed toys for 24 hours in a Ziploc bag to prevent buildup at least once a month.
9. Caution with sunscreen – We’re told to lather up in sunscreen when going outside for extended periods of time, especially during allergy season, when the sun is the strongest. But unfortunately, not only will the outdoor pollen get you wheezing, sneezing and itching; so too can that sunscreen. Always look for products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to be safe and reduce your chances of a photoallergic reaction.
10. Keep the outside world from coming in – Always take off your shoes before going indoors, and keep all outdoor tools and toys in a garage or shed. If not, you will be dragging in the outdoor dirt and pollen into you living area, and provoking allergies and asthma.