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Top Indoor Air Allergens for the Summer

Itchy eyes, scratchy throat, runny nose… Wait—aren’t those symptoms supposed to go away with the coming of summer? Just because spring is gone does not mean that the allergies are gone with it. In fact, summer allergies can make your summer fun and relaxation anything but fun and relaxing.

Summer Allergies

What causes allergies? Allergies are triggered when you breathe certain particles and the immune system fights back. When allergens find their way into the nasal passage, the immune system treats them as foreign invaders and begins to release antibodies, which are generally made to fight off harmful organisms like bacteria and viruses. The antibodies attack the allergens, during which histamines are released into the blood. With the release of the histamines comes the runny noses, scratchy throats, itchy eyes, etc.

Take pollen, for example. As the worst summer allergy trigger, pollen is an expert traveler. Airborne pollen travels from plant to plant, fertilizing other plants; in fact, pollen can travel for miles. Pollen and other grains from weeds and grasses are not just confined to outdoors, however; they find their way indoors, resting on furniture and in carpets and becoming miserable troublemakers. This is how allergies get their start.

Indoor Allergens

Numerous allergens are out there just waiting to trigger your allergies this summer. Although the bulk of summer allergens are found outdoors, indoor air allergens are also a big problem during the summer. Indoor allergens can be anything from mold growing in the basement, microscopic dust mites and their residue, or tiny grains released from outdoor plants that find their way inside. The most common indoor air allergens are:

  • Mold
  • Dust mite droppings
  • Pollen and “outdoor” allergens
  • Pet dander
  • Cockroach droppings

Most of us spend the vast majority of our time indoors, especially during summer when we need relief from the heat. Unfortunately, this leaves us open to attack from common indoor allergens.

Mold

Mold and mildew are two common allergens that are found not just during the summer months but throughout the entire year as well. Wet, damp areas like bathrooms and basements are perfect breeding grounds for molds. They grow best in moist surroundings, and they release spores that can travel airborne and can be breathed. Breathing these allergens triggers allergies and asthma, so it is a good idea to keep damp areas dry and free of mold and mildew, especially during the humid summer months. If you have a particular problem with humidity or live in a very humid area, then you may wish to consider having a dehumidifier.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are allergens that also love breeding in hot, humid air, so they present a significant problem during summer. Dust mites are microscopic insects that feed on dust and settle in places like pillows, carpets, and mattresses. According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology, dust mite feces is the number one trigger for allergy and asthma symptoms.

Grains

Though especially a problem during pollination season during the spring, pollen grains and grains from weeds and grasses are also key allergy triggers during the summer. Ragweed, for example, which usually makes its grand debut in August, can travel for miles and can be a misery for allergy sufferers. Ragweed can also cause oral allergy syndrome (OAS), which can cause an itchy, swollen throat after eating certain fruits and vegetables.

Other Allergens

There are many other indoor allergens that contribute to allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and other breathing problems. For example, roach droppings contain a protein that triggers allergies and asthma. Also, pet dander is a major allergen; like pollen, it automatically begins an onslaught of sneezing coughing, tearing, and other allergic reactions.

Relief for Summer Allergies

Completely avoiding allergies is hardly possible, but there are ways to reduce the number of allergens around you, thereby reducing your allergy symptoms. Here are a few tips on how to keep a more breathing-friendly environment:

  • Keep a clean house. Dusting and vacuuming may sound like a given, but without doing these household chores regularly, allergens have a higher chance of flourishing in your house. Dusting and vacuuming can lower the amount of dust, dust mites, pollen, and other airborne debris that settle on furniture and in carpets.
  • Wash your sheets and change your pillows. Washing your sheets regularly in hot water kills dust mites, so if you suffer from dust mite allergens, you should be washing your sheets at least once a week. Also, dust mites love to nest in pillows. In fact, 10% of the weight of a 2-year-old pillow is dust mites and their droppings. Pillows should be washed regularly as well and changed about every two years.
  • Keep doors and windows closed. If you really suffer from outdoor allergies like pollen and other grains, then you should keep your doors and windows closed as often as possible during the summer. Staying inside can also help reduce “hay fever.”
  • Use an air purifier. Air purifiers are perfect for concentrating cleaner air in a specific room space, which can be particularly helpful for allergy sufferers, especially for those who have trouble sleeping. Air purifiers draw air from the room through a filter, which traps allergens like dust mite droppings and mold spores, and sends purified air back into the room. Air purifiers can relieve allergy symptoms, improve breathing, and provide a more enjoyable lifestyle.
  • Use a dehumidifier. Lowering the amount of humidity in your air can decrease the growth of mold and mildew as well as the growth of dust mites. A good humidity level is between 30 and 50 percent.
  • Regularly replace HVAC filters. The air in your house is constantly being circulated through the HVAC system. If you have an air conditioner during the summer, you can be certain that microscopic allergens are circulating throughout your house with your air. You can reduce this problem by using a good HVAC filter and by keeping those filters regularly replaced. Filters trap those allergens and keep your air healthier to breathe.
  • Seek medical treatment. Not all people experience allergies to the same things. If your allergies do not go away, you may need to seek medical diagnosis for your allergies and treatment for them. Just remember that it is best to ask a doctor’s advice before taking any medication.

Don’t let summer allergies stop you from having fun during the summer season. There are several ways to help reduce the amount of allergens in your house and to have a better breathing environment. Find what allergen(s) are triggering your breathing problems, seek a way to reduce them, and have some fun enjoying the brilliant summer season!




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