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Tips for preventing allergies

Many people suffer from allergies. Allergies can occur seasonally or year-round. Allergies are caused by a variety of allergens including dust mites, mold, pollen, pet dander, insect stings or even foods such as peanuts or sea food. If you or someone in your family suffers from allergies, there are several things you can do to help combat them and also reduce the severity of the symptoms.

What causes an allergy?

An allergy occurs when a person’s immune system overreacts to a substance, which is referred to as an allergen. For most people, these substances cause no problem but, for the person with allergies, the reaction can range from mild to severe and include sneezing, coughing, sore throat, runny, itchy eyes and nose, skin rashes, hives, swollen lips and even difficulty breathing. For some people, the allergic reaction is so severe that they go into anaphylactic shock, which can be life-threatening if medical attention is not immediately provided.

How can you prevent allergies?

One of the most effective ways to prevent allergies is to prevent exposure to the allergens by eliminating them. For indoor allergies caused by allergens such as pet dander, dust mites, mold and mildew, keeping the home as allergen-free as possible is important.

Keep your home clean

Rugs, carpets, upholstered furniture and drapes should be vacuumed and cleaned frequently. Consider removing your carpets and rugs and go with hard-surface items instead, especially in the bedrooms. This can significantly cut down on allergen build-up. If you really want carpeting, a low-pile carpet is recommended.

Also consider getting a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and removable canister that can easily be cleaned. Bedding should be washed at least once a week in very hot water. Pillows and mattresses can be protected by using zippered allergen-resistant cases and covers.

To prevent dust and mold from building up in your home, be sure to clean the air ducts frequently and also the filters in your air conditioners. Also, if your home has damp, moist areas, a dehumidifier can help.

Eliminate smoke from your home. If you have a fireplace, it may be a good idea to stop using it. You can always replace it with an electric, smokeless fireplace if you like the look. Also, second-hand cigarette smoke is another potential allergen. If you do smoke, do it outside, never in the home or in the car.

Eliminating outdoor allergens

If anyone in your home suffers from outdoor allergens such as tree and grass pollen, limit their time outside, especially on windy days and during peak allergen season. Removing and washing clothing and taking a shower after coming inside can help. Also, be sure to keep doors and windows closed as much as possible.

Make it easier on yourself

Allergy-proofing your home can be a lot of work. Keeping your home as clutter-free as possible will help. Avoid stuffing dust-collecting items such as clothing and extra blankets under beds and inside closets. Replace hard-to-clean items such as venetian blinds and pleated shades with cotton roll-ups or synthetics shades. Replace hard-to-clean or non-washable drapes with washable cotton or fiberglass curtains.

Food allergies

For food allergies, especially with something like peanuts, complete avoidance of the allergen is extremely important. People with serious food allergies have to be extremely careful what they eat, especially when eating outside the home. They should also discuss an emergency action plan with their physician, such as carrying an autoinjector in case they are accidentally exposed to the food allergen.

Taking proper preventative measures can significantly reduce the chances for developing allergies and also from having them reoccur once they do develop. Prevention can be somewhat difficult and time-consuming, but the results are worth it. In the case of severe allergies, prevention can actually save a life.