Basic things that can protect you from allergies.
When you're outdoors, pollen is likely to be your main adversary, so:
- Close your car’s windows while driving. Put your car’s internal fan or air conditioning system on recirculate, rather than drawing in new air from the outside;
- Limit your outdoor activity between 5am and 10am, as pollen levels are at their highest during that time;
- Stick to holidays in areas with low pollen counts, such as the seaside;
- Delegate raking of leaves and mowing of lawns. Stay away from freshly cut grass.
Bedrooms that contain carpets, soft furnishings and drapes will harbour irritants, so:
- Keep pets out of the bedroom;
- Replace drapes, with shades or curtains that can be washed frequently;
- Don't hang sheets or clothing outside to dry, as pollens can collect on them;
- Wash linen in very hot water and use your tumble drier’s hottest setting. This will kill mites;
- Vacuum carpets regularly. With carpets in the room, less dust will be floating around;
- Tiles or floor mats are easy to wash and must be kept clean;
- Install a filter over bedroom air vents to prevent animal dander, dust, and molds from being blown in from other parts of the house through the heating or air-conditioning ducts;
- Clean, cool dry air is best while sleeping. Keep central air-conditioning running at night or use window air-conditioning units. If air-conditioning is not available, keep windows closed at night to avoid exposure to pollens;
- Replace down pillows with buckwheat or foam ones;
- Enclose pillows, mattresses, and box springs in air-tight plastic or fabric casings to limit mite activity;
- Vacuum floors and clean surfaces weekly;
- Keep books and CDs in cabinets or drawers so that they don't collect dust;
- Replace synthetic pillows every two years.
Houseplants and mould, and pets and dander are what to watch out for here, as well as dust. Keep the number of houseplants to a minimum, as they promote mold growth.
- Wipe down all surfaces each week;
- Store firewood outside and eliminate straw and jute from the home;
- Avoid touching cut flowers;
- If your home is humid, use a dehumifidier to dry the air.
Few people are willing to part with their pets, no matter how much they suffer as a result of animal dander, so:
- Install an air filter in your home;
- Keep your pet outside as much as possible;
- Keep your pet out of the bedroom;
- Brush your pet outside of the home to remove loose hair and other allergens. Better yet, ask someone else to do so. The same applies to the cat’s litter tray;
- Clean or replace bedding or carpeting that is contaminated with animal dander.
Air-conditioning systems and air quality
Standing water is a magnet to allergens, and smoke is an irritant, so:
- Air-conditioners can help control humidity, so they can limit the growth of mites and moulds, as well as eliminating spores from the air;
- Avoid fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and tobacco smoke;
- Install a dehumidifier to keep air dry and reduce mould growth.
(Health24, updated February 2010)
Keeping your home clear of dust mites
Quality of Life survey
Allergy Society of South Africa (ALLSA)