The best way to keep your allergy symptoms in check is to minimize your contact with the things that trigger them. Typically, allergy triggers include:
- Pollen from grass, trees, and weeds
- Animal dander from furry and feathered pets
- Dust mites
- Mold spores, both indoor and outdoor varieties
Let’s take a look at some of the main ways you can avoid allergy triggers.
Pollen triggers. Pollen is a tiny egg-shaped particle from flowering plants. All plants have pollen, but only pollen from certain trees, grasses and weeds trigger allergies. Their pollen tends to be small, light, and dry, so winds can spread it far and wide. The heavier, waxier pollens found on roses and other flowers is not spread as easily and is less likely to cause allergy symptoms.
To avoid pollen, the best bet is to stay indoors during hot, dry, windy days in the spring, summer and fall, especially in the early morning, when pollen counts tend to be highest. Keep your windows closed and the air conditioning on, if possible.
It’s best not to hang clothes outside to dry, as they can collect pollen. If you must be outdoors during times when the pollen counts are high, then try to shower or at least change clothes when you return indoors, to get rid of pollen.
Animal dander. When you have an allergy to an animal, it’s generally not to the fur or feathers, though it’s that type of animal that are most likely to trigger your allergies. Actually, your allergies are triggered by small scales of skin that the animal sheds, which is called dander. Pet allergens can also be found in the saliva of the pet, especially in cats.
Of course, the easiest way to avoid triggering pet allergies is to avoid animals. But that’s not always easy to do, particularly if you have a beloved pet of your own. So, try to keep your pet off of your bed and your living room furniture.
Get someone else in the family to bathe the pet weekly, to remove dander. Vacuum your carpet and floors frequently to pick up dust and dander.
Dust mites. Dust mites are tiny microorganisms that live in dust. They eat your dead skin flakes, and live in your bedding, furniture and carpets. Getting rid of carpets and scrupulous vacuuming/dusting is the best way to limit the numbers of dust mites in your home environment.
Encasing your pillows and mattress in allergen-proof covers can also help. And, since dust mites like humid environments, using a de-humidifier may also help.
Molds. Mold produces spores that are airborne and can trigger allergies. There are both outdoor varieties of mold that thrive in soil and dead leaves and indoor versions, which accumulate in dark, moist areas such as those under kitchen and bathroom sinks and in basements.
If mold is one of your triggers, then you should avoid working in the garden soil or raking fall leaves (or even just scuffing through them). For indoor mold, a de-humidifer can help. Visible mold growth can be washed and killed with a bleach solution.
Implement just a few of the suggestions above and you should see your allergy symptoms lessen greatly. You may also be able to reduce the amount of allergy medicine you need to take, though you should always discuss medication changes with your doctor first.
Kathi is an experienced consumer health education writer, with a prior career in nursing that spanned more than 30 years — much of it in the field of home health care. Over the past 15 years, she’s been an avid contributor for a number of consumer health websites, specializing in asthma, allergy, and COPD. She writes not only as a healthcare professional, but also as a lifelong sufferer of severe allergies and mild asthma, and as a caregiver for her mother with COPD.