Guest Author - Carolyn Chambers Clark, RN, EdD
An antihistamine or some other medication may work just fine for you, but remember, they only treat your symptoms. The underlying cause of the problem is still there and can reoccur. Also, keep in mind that allergies are often hard to diagnose and difficult to treat, so complementary approaches have become very popular. Be sure to advise your health care practitioner of any self-care measures you're undertaking.
Environmental Actions to Reduce Allergies to Pollen or Mold Spores
1. For allergies to pollen or mold spores, buy a high-efficiency particular air cleaner (HEPA filter).
2. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to eliminate airborne allergens.
3. Turn on the air conditioner in your car and at home and then cleaning damp areas with bleach or a citrus cleaner.
4. Avoid household pets and/or give them frequent baths and keep them outside as much as possible.
5. Remove rugs in your house and install tile or wood floors. Wall-to-wall carpeting also invites roaches and their waste products. Carpeting plus increased insulation and sealed windows can lead to symptoms of "sick building syndrome," including eye, nose, throat, and skin irritation, headache, fatigue, and breathing problems. Chronic colds and dull headaches have also been associated with sick building syndrome.
6. Cover pillows, mattresses, box springs and furniture with plastic casings.
7. Wash all linens in hot water to kill dust mites.
8. Keep the windows in your house shut to keep outdoor allergens outside.
9. Use a dehumidifier for damp spaces.
10. Avoid heaters that release irritating particles, including wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.
11. Avoid carbonless paper, toners (from laser printers and copy machines), adhesive floor coverings, and smoking. All can increase symptoms.
12. Avoid permanent-press clothes (containing formaldehyde). They have been associated with allergies. Look at the concentration of a rash and see if it matches areas where your permanent-press clothes fit tightly. To avoid allergic responses, wear natural fiber clothing such as cotton, silk, and wool.
13. Birds can also be the source of allergens. Bird antigens linger in a house for as long as l8 months. The best action you can take if you have lung irritations (hypersensitivity pneumonitis) is to avoid the room in which a bird was kept.
14. Make your bedroom allergy-proof: encase your mattress in allergen-proof plastic; wash your sheets, blankets, pillowcases and mattress pads every week in water that is at least 140 degree F; and, use hypoallergenic bedding materials.
If you have allergies, try one or more of these suggestions and let me know how it goes.
Carolyn Chambers Clark, EdD, ARNP, AHNC
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