You are getting all teary-eyed, your eyes are turning red, and you just can’t seem to catch your breath – oh no, you know what this means. It’s allergy season! While the symptoms sound pretty romantic, there isn’t anything lovely about seasonal allergies.
While there is no escaping it (just like love, sigh…), you definitely can learn how to manage your allergy better.
Use this guide to get to know more about allergies, how to reduce allergens, and tips on cleaning preparation for allergy season.
What is an allergy?
Cleveland Clinic defines it as ‘your body’s reaction to a substance it views as a harmful “invader.” When you come in contact with these harmful invaders (also called triggers), you get an allergic reaction.
This reaction causes your body to produce the IgE protein, an antibody that will find and remove the harmful invaders. In the process of fighting these invaders, a chemical called histamine is released into the blood, and this is what causes your allergy symptoms.
Your symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening and vary from person to person. Some people have to deal with this condition every day while some have symptoms only during allergy season (which we’ll be discussing more later).
Another factor is how you are exposed to triggers – is it through food, medicine, an insect sting, the air, or your skin?
Some allergy symptoms include itching in different parts of the body, getting rashes, developing hives, sneezing, having difficulty breathing, swelling, and the most severe one which is anaphylaxis.
What should you do when experiencing an allergic reaction?
If you don’t know what caused your allergy, then it is best to see a doctor, preferably one who can help determine what you are allergic to and prescribe the best treatment.
If you experience mild symptoms of a known allergy, you can take over-the-counter medications like antihistamines. However, if you or someone you know is having a severe allergic reaction, seek emergency medical assistance right away.
While there is no cure for allergies, you can avoid allergic reactions by preventing exposure to triggers, otherwise known as allergens.
What are allergens?
These are the harmful invaders mentioned before. You can come in contact with allergens almost anywhere, even in your own home.
Some of the most common allergens in homes are:
- Animal Dander
- The venom of insects (through bites or stings)
- Food (including peanut, egg, nuts, milk, seafood, and soy)
- Dust mites
- Medications (particularly penicillin)
Interestingly, these foreign substances don’t cause a reaction in most people. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t many people who suffer from allergies.
A 2017 Statistics Canada report on Chronic Conditions shows that 27.3% of Canadians aged 12 and older were diagnosed with having allergies after undergoing allergy tests. That is about 8.4 million people.
If you happen to be one of them, you want to avoid or minimize your exposure to allergens in your home by doing the following:
- Develop good cleaning habits to avoid dust buildup, mold growth, and bug or insect infestations.
- Improve your indoor air quality by having good ventilation, as well as installing filters and screens and making sure these are clean.
- Get rid of items that are traps for allergens (such as stuffed animals, plush toys, and wall-to-wall carpets).
- Opt for organicDIY cleaning productsand avoid those containing very harsh chemicals and strong scents.
- Keep your windows and doors closed especially during allergy season.
What is allergy season?
There are times in the year when your body tends to overreact to allergens in the environment, and these periods are called allergy season.
In temperate countries like Canada and the United States, where you get four seasons, there are certain months when plants pollinate. This is usually during spring, summer, or fall.
Some people have worse symptoms during a certain season because they could be allergic to the pollen of the plants pollinating during that particular time.
In Canada, for example, tree pollen is the main culprit in April and May, while it is grass pollen in June and July, and then it is ragweed from around August to October.
The most common symptoms of seasonal allergies are coughing, sneezing, watery and itchy eyes, and a stuffy or runny nose.
How to allergy-proof your home?
Whether your symptoms happen only during allergy season or at any time of the year, one of the best ways to minimize or avoid an allergic reaction is to allergy-proof your home.
- Get rid of pests like dust mites, cockroaches, and mice.
- Control mold growth by checking for and fixing leaks, improving your ventilation, and washing and cleaning any contaminated area and materials.
- Maintain the right temperature (between 68 F to 72 F or 20 C to 22 C) and the right amount of humidity (no higher than 50 percent).
- Clean cooling and heating system filters at least once a month and replace them when necessary.
- Implement a “NO SMOKING” policy inside your house.
6. Avoid upholstered furniture and opt for wood, leather, or metal (easier to clean).
7. Clean/Wash your curtains or shades and avoid horizontal blinds because they collect more dust.
8. Opt for double-paned windows, and don’t open your windows during allergy season. Clean the frames, sills, and panes.
9. Minimize clutter and remove items that collect dust (stuffed animals, books, ornaments, etcetera).
10.Pet lovers can either build a comfortable outdoor shelter for their furry buddies or designate no-pet zones in the house.
11. Develop a weekly cleaning routine. Clean surfaces with a damp cloth, mop floors with a damp mop, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to clean your carpet. To deep clean your carpets, we have a carpet cleaning specialist and state-of-the-art equipment to get the job done, so give us a call.
Here are some specific tips for different rooms:
- Change and wash your beddings in hot water (at least 130 F or 54 C). Do this at least once a week.
- Use dust mite-proof covers for your pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
- Keep toys, books, and knickknacks in storage boxes.
- Experts advise keeping pets out of bedrooms.
- Don’t leave any food and waste lying around (these attract pests). Place them in containers with lids.
- Wash dishes every day.
- Scrub the faucets and the sink.
- Throw out expired and moldy food.
- Clean the stove, oven, countertops, cabinets, and appliances.
- Reduce moisture when cooking by installing and using a vented exhaust fan.
- Wipe excessive moisture in your refrigerator and clean or replace moldy rubber seals. Empty and clean the dripping pan regularly.
- Sweep and mop floors.
- If you have a wood fireplace or stove, avoid using them (the smoke is bad for respiratory allergies) or consider replacing them with a natural gas alternative.
- Attend to any mold growth on your plants.
- Go for carpet-free flooring. If you really can’t do without any soft floor covering, use rugs or a low-pile carpet instead.
- Check the foundation, stairwells, and windows for leaks and water damage.
- Reduce dampness by using a dehumidifier and make sure to clean it weekly.
- Vent your clothes dryer outside.
- Use plastic storage bins to keep items and avoid storing too many things.
Allergy Season Cleaning Preparation Checklist
- Take note of when allergy season starts and when your allergies get worse. If you aren’t sure what type of allergy you have, see an allergist or immunologist.
- Create a cleaning plan (which room you will do first, what time or days you will clean, etcetera).
- Make sure you have the right cleaning equipment, such as a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter.
- Try to keep the pollen out of your home as much as possible. Wipe or remove your shoes at the door, wash your clothes when you arrive, and shower before bed. When cleaning during allergy season, make sure to also wash your clothes and shower after.
- Invest in HEPA air filters for your whole house. This can help with indoor allergies.
- Remember to include ceilings, fans, and walls when cleaning.
- Use synthetic air fresheners and commercial cleaners with harsh chemicals and strong artificial fragrances. These can cause irritation and the same symptoms as allergies
- Forget to include your pets’ beddings and living area.
- Dust with a feather duster; use a damp cloth instead.
- Expose yourself to even more allergens. Wear a mask, gloves, and eye protection when necessary.
Feel an allergy attack coming on?
Experts recommend the best way to avoid triggering an allergic reaction and worsening any symptoms is to let someone without allergies do the cleaning. Hire professional cleaners who are experienced in dealing with allergens and who use natural non-toxic cleaning solutions.
Get the best cleaning service in your area with Life Maid Easy. Check out our website for more details, including available franchise opportunities, or talk to us at 1 833 247 MAID (6243).