For many of us, spring welcomes the end of another cold-and-flu season and the battle against sneezes and sniffles. For others, however, allergies begin where colds and flus leave off - and for some sufferers, allergies are a year-round struggle. To minimize the effects of your allergies, start by finding and reducing (or eliminating) the culprits in the place where you spend most of your time: at home. Here are some tips to help you work towards "allergy-proofing" your house.
Clean often. Keeping your house and its contents clean is the most inexpensive way to keep allergies at bay. Use a damp cloth to wipe down shelves, knickknacks and furnishings - dusters only stir dust into the air. Scrub areas where moisture is high (sinks, bathtubs, windows etc.) to prevent mold formation. Wash bedding in hot water weekly.
Keep your home cool and dry. Temperature should be kept below 20°C and humidity below 50 per cent to prevent the growth of mold and the presence of dust mites, which prosper in humid areas. Keep dehumidifiers in areas of your home where moisture is high.
Dont allow smoking. The toxic chemicals in cigarettes may aggravate allergies, and individuals with allergies are often more sensitive to cigarette smoke. Politely request that smokers light up outside your house.
Keep windows closed. In the Atlantic provinces, the pollen season lasts from about April to October - a long time to put up with allergy symptoms for those allergic to pollen. Use an air conditioner to keep cool instead, and change its filter once a month to keep it functioning properly.
Reduce pet dander. If you're allergic to your pet, but can't bear to part with him or her, be sure to make certain areas of your home (including your bedroom) off-limits to your furry friend, so you can breath easy in those rooms. Keep them out of carpeted rooms and dont allow them on upholstered furniture, where their dander will easily collect. Bathe your pet often (at least once a month) to reduce dander.
Choose firm flooring. Dust, mold and pet dander collect in the millions of fibres in carpet, making every carpeted inch of your home a trigger for allergies. Opt for hardwood or linoleum instead - they're easier to clean and collect less dust and dander. If you prefer to keep the soft touch underfoot, however, a washable throw rug (cleaned weekly) is preferable. But if you plan to keep your carpet, let someone else do the vacuuming for you because most vacuum cleaners stir dust into the air you breath. Consider purchasing a vacuum that has a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, which does a better job of trapping dust and other allergens.
Use bedding covers. Dust-proof covers on your pillow and mattress will provide a better night's sleep, protecting your bed from collecting dust mites that might otherwise keep you coughing and sneezing all night long.
Choose furniture wisely. Avoid overstuffed sofas and chairs, where dust will settle and remain difficult to remove. Instead choose leather or wooden furniture, which attracts less dust and is easier to clean.
Select washable window dressings. Remove horizontal blinds - a haven for dust - in favour of washable curtains or shades.