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Beat Allergies with Spring Cleaning

March 4, 2024

Beat Allergies with Spring Cleaning

Spring is in the air! The warmer weather and blooming flowers are a welcome change after winter. However, for millions of allergy sufferers, spring also brings sneezing, congestion, itchy eyes, and other bothersome symptoms. As the trees and grass start pollinating, all that pollen floating around can wreak havoc if you have allergies. But don’t despair! With some diligent spring cleaning and other preventive measures, you can help reduce allergy symptoms and breathe easier this season.

Deep Clean Your Home

One of the best ways to reduce allergens is to thoroughly clean your home before allergy season hits full force. Here are some tips:

Target Dust and Pet Dander

  • Dust mites and pet dander are two major allergy triggers. Vacuum carpets, rugs, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and other fabric surfaces. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter for best results.
  • Wash bedding, including sheets, comforters, and pillowcases in hot water at least weekly. This kills dust mites.
  • Consider using allergen-proof mattress and pillow covers to reduce exposure at night.

Disinfect Surfaces

  • Use a disinfecting cleaner to wipe down hard surfaces like countertops, floors, and tables. This helps remove pollen, dander, and mold.
  • Pay special attention to kitchens and bathrooms as they tend to harbor more allergens.

Clean Air Ducts and Change Filters

  • Dirty air ducts circulate dust and other allergens. Have yours professionally cleaned if needed.
  • Change out air filters in heating and cooling systems to help trap allergens. Use high efficiency MERV 13 filters if possible.

Wash Windows

  • Pollen clings to window glass and sills. Give your windows a thorough spring cleaning inside and out.
  • Close windows on high pollen count days to keep it out of your home.

Plan Outdoor Activities Carefully

When pollen counts are very high, it’s best to spend more time indoors. But don’t stay cooped up all spring! Here are some tips for outdoor activities:

  • Check the daily pollen count. Plan outdoor activities on low pollen days when possible.
  • Exercise early or late when pollen counts tend to be lower.
  • Shower and change clothes after spending time outside to remove pollen.
  • Limit lawn mowing which stirs up pollen. Wear a mask if you do mow.
  • Avoid hanging laundry outside to dry as pollen can stick to the fabric.

Consider Air Purifiers and Dehumidifiers

Portable air purifiers and dehumidifiers can help filter allergens out of indoor air. Look for HEPA and activated carbon filters. Run them continuously in bedrooms and main living areas. Also, use exhaust fans in kitchens and bathrooms when cooking or showering to vent humidity and allergens outside. Keep indoor humidity below 50 percent.

Take Medications as Needed

Work with your doctor to find the right allergy medications for your symptoms. Some options include:

  • Oral antihistamines like Zyrtec, Allegra, and Claritin. Start before symptoms begin.
  • Nasal corticosteroid sprays like Flonase and Rhinocort. Use daily.
  • Eye drops for itchy, watery eyes.

Some medications may cause drowsiness so check labels. Also avoid unnecessary exposures if taking sedating antihistamines.

Get Immunotherapy

For people with severe seasonal allergies not controlled sufficiently with medications, allergy shots or sublingual (under the tongue) drops can help desensitize your immune system over time. This is a big commitment but can significantly reduce symptoms and need for medications. Talk to an allergist to see if it might be right for you.

With some diligence about cleaning, staying indoors when pollen is high, and using medications as needed, seasonal allergy sufferers can still enjoy the outdoors. Don’t let allergies keep you stuck inside all spring!

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