What Can I Do To Reduce And Avoid Airborne Allergens?

What Can I Do To Reduce And  Avoid Airborne Allergens?

Sneezing is not always the symptom of a cold. Sometimes, it is an allergic reaction to something in the air. Experts estimate that 35 million Americans suffer from upper respiratory symptoms that are allergic reactions to airborne pollen. Pollen allergy, commonly called hay fever, is one of the most common chronic diseases in the United States. Worldwide, airborne dust causes the most problems for people with allergies. The respiratory symptoms of asthma, which affects approximately 15 million Americans, are often provoked by airborne allergens (substances that cause an allergic reaction).

What is an allergy?

An allergy is a specific immunologic reaction to a normally harmless substance, one that does not bother most people. People who have allergies often are sensitive to more than one substance. Types of allergens that cause allergic reactions include pollens, dust particles, mold spores, food, latex rubber, insect venom, or medicines.

Why are some people allergic to these substances while others are not? Scientists think that people inherit a tendency to be allergic, meaning an increased likelihood of being allergic to one or more allergens, although they probably do not have an inherited tendency to be allergic to any specific allergens. Children are much more likely to develop allergies if their parents have allergies, even if only one parent is allergic. Exposure to allergens at certain times when the body's defenses are lowered or weakened, such as after a viral infection or during pregnancy, seems to contribute to the development of allergies.

Common airborne allergies include: 

  • Pollen allergies.
  • Seasonal allergies.
  • Tree allergies.
  • Plant allergies.
  • Grass allergies.
  • Weed allergies.
  • Ragweed allergies.
  • Hay fever allergies.
  • Pine tree pollen allergy.
  • Oak tree pollen allergy.
  • Birch tree pollen allergy.
  • Bermuda grass allergy.
  • St. Augustine grass allergy.
  • Ragweed allergy.
  • Lantana plant allergy.
  • Poison Oak and Poison Ivy allergy.
  • Mold spores allergy.
  • Chrysanthemum allergy

Typical allergic symptoms caused by airborne allergens include sneezing, runny nose and nasal congestion (allergic rhinitis or hay fever). When an allergy victim's eyes are affected, they may experience itchy, watery and red eyes. Inhaling airborne allergens may cause reduced lung capacity and difficulty breathing. Contact allergies from touching plants, grass, leaves and even substances such as latex, can trigger hives or a skin rash. Many medical personnel develop a latex allergy from latex protective gloves.

The same airborne pollens can also cause contact allergies or skin allergies when pollen comes into contact with the skin. Most people are familiar with the skin eruptions (hives) and itching from touching poison oak or poison ivy plants. However, severe and life-threatening reactions can occur if an allergy sufferer inhales poison oak or poison ivy pollen, either directly from the plant or when plants are burned and pollen is carried in the smoke.

For some highly allergic individuals the allergy season never ends. Trees typically pollinate in the early spring, but can begin releasing pollen in January in the southern states, especially following a mild winter. Grass pollinates in the late spring and summer. Summer brings increased dust and even dust storms in some areas. Weeds pollinate in the summer and early fall. In warmer climates of the southern states, ragweed typically releases pollen in September and October. And November brings out the freshly cut evergreen holiday trims and Christmas trees that decorate workplaces, retail stores and homes.

Reduce your exposure to airborne allergens, such as pollens:

Stay indoors during peak airborne allergy and hay fever seasons.

Keep windows and doors closed. "Fresh air" contains millions of airborne pollen grains, which can be inhaled by allergic individuals.

Caulk and seal windows to stop pollen and dust infiltration.

Install a high-performance allergy-free Taskmaster Healthmate or Pleat-A-Static electrostatic air filter in your central air conditioning and heating system to extract pollen.

Choose the "Circulate" setting for home and auto air-conditioning system to avoid introducing outside air containing airborne allergens.

Wear a 3M-pollen mask and gloves when working outside, doing household tasks or grooming pets.

It may be necessary to take an extra dose of physician-prescribed medication before outside activities.

Remove clothing and wash with Allersearch Wash Detergent or De-mite Laundry Additive.

Wash your hair, face, arms and legs after performing outside tasks.

Do not keep gardening or other outside clothing in the home.

Bathe pets frequently with Allerpet and keep pets outdoors. Pets bring pollen inside on their fur and trigger pollen allergies.

Remove carpet and area rugs if possible, or wash rugs in hot water every week with Allersearch Wash Detergent to remove pollen grains. Pollen can trigger airborne allergies when you walk through carpet or move about on upholstered furniture.

Use AirFree Purification Systems to control odors, dust, pollen, mold, animal dander, as well as some bacteria.

Delegate house cleaning to others and leave the house when it is performed.

If you must vacuum, wear a 3M-pollen mask to avoid airborne allergens and use a Panasonic vacuum cleaner.

If you must dust, wear a 3M-pollen mask and use Allerdust Dusting Aid and Allergex Dust Control Spray to limit dust allergens and avoid making dust airborne. When dusting, use Taskmaster's electrostatically charged cleaning cloths and dust mops that attract and keep dust from becoming airborne.

Avoid cumulative airborne allergen exposures:

Airborne allergy symptoms grow more severe with each successive allergen exposure. Like stacking blocks, one too many blocks causes the whole stack to topple.

Reduce your exposure to dust mites. Dust mite allergens become airborne allergens when you move in bed.

Encase your bedding with Taskmaster’s Pristine products, remove carpet and limit upholstered furniture to avoid multiple allergen exposures.

Allergies can lead to asthma, especially in children, causing permanent lung damage. Fortunately, information about allergies and allergy control products can help people with airborne allergies live normal lives through the following prevention practices:

  • Airborne allergy treatment.
  • Avoidance of airborne allergens.
  • Symptomatic medications - drug therapy.
  • Immunotherapy - airborne allergy desensitizing injections.

What Can I do to Reduce Allergic Rhinitis?

Common allergen sources

  • Bedding
  • Upholstered furniture
  • Pets
  • Water damage
  • Carpet
  • Moldy air conditioners, refrigerators, humidifiers, dehumidifiers
  • Swamp coolers
  • Kitchen or bathrooms without vents or windows. Laundry room without a vented dryer
  • Crawl spaces
  • Pollens from trees and grasses
  • Molds

General suggestions to reduce allergic rhinitis

  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Avoid using window or attic fans that draw in outside air.
  • Use air conditioning.
  • Refrain from outside activities, if possible, during times of high pollen counts (if you are sensitive to pollens). Note that peak pollination occurs at different times of the day for different plants (i.e., ragweed in the late morning, grasses in the afternoon).
  • Shower or bathe and change clothes following outdoor activity.
  • Dry clothes in vented dryer, not outside.

Specific suggestions to reduce exposure to mold and fungus allergens

Outdoor exposure

  • Do not walk through uncut fields, work with compost or dry soil, or rake leaves.
  • Keep windows and doors closed.
  • Avoid using window or attic fans that draw in outside air.
  • Use air conditioning.

Indoor exposure

  • Clean moldy surfaces.
  • Wash swamp coolers.
  • Fix all water leaks.
  • Use air conditioning and a dehumidifier to reduce indoor humidity to < 50%, if possible.
  • Specific suggestions to reduce exposure to house dust mite allergens

"Must do" actions

  • Encase mattress, pillow and box springs in an allergen-impermeable cover.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water (³ 130°F).
  • Reduce indoor humidity to 50%, if possible.
  • Remove stuffed toys from the bedroom.

"Should do" actions

  • Remove carpets from the bedroom and carpets laid on concrete from all rooms.
  • Reduce the number of upholstered furniture pieces in the home.
  • Use HEPA-filters. Electrostatic filters can be used but note that although they are less efficient than HEPA filters, they still remove particles that can be inhaled.

Specific suggestions to reduce exposure to animal allergens

Remove the pet from the home.

If removal of the animal is not acceptable, then:
  • Keep the pet out of the bedroom and bathroom by closing the door.
  • Do not allow the pet on upholstered furniture and carpets.
  • Wash the pet weekly to decrease the amount of dander and dried saliva. (The evidence to support this recommendation had not been firmly established.)
  • Use a HEPA-type air cleaner in the bedroom and elevate the cleaner off the floor.
  • Close the air ducts in the bedroom.

Specific suggestions to reduce exposure to tobacco smoke & wood smoke

While tobacco smoke and wood smoke are not true allergens, they can cause nasal symptoms in patients with inhalant allergies.

Inform the family that there should be no smoking:
  • Around the patient.
  • In the patient's home.
  • In the patient's car.

Help family members and/or caregivers stop smoking.

Limit the use of wood-burning stoves and fireplaces. (Encourage use of airtight stove/fireplace if wood must be burned.)