Common Causes of Indoor Allergies
Sniffles and sneezes from pollen and grass are one thing, but you expect your home to be a safe haven from environmental allergens. Unfortunately, it’s not always that simple: your home’s air can play host to various other allergy triggers—some similar to their outdoor counterparts—that could mean congestion, inflammation, and general discomfort for you or your kids. But unlike the great outdoors, you can better control your indoor environment and keep allergies at bay. Consider these common causes of indoor allergies and how to avoid them in your home for better breathing.
Unfortunately, your furry friends may be the cause of your allergies. It’s not the fur itself that’s giving you or a member of your family trouble, though: it’s dander, the microscopic bits of dry skin that lie beneath hair and slough off into the air. When combined with your pet’s saliva from grooming, there’s a lot in dander that can give someone trouble. If you can’t part with your pet, at least keep your cat or dog out of your bedroom or your child’s bedroom, and clean your home regularly and vigorously to limit dander buildup.
When in doubt, your first suspect should be mold. Microscopic mold spores are everywhere in the air we breathe, but when they exist in high concentrations and develop colonies, that can mean trouble for your breathing. Mold allergies are tricky because they so closely resemble a viral upper respiratory infection, but you can test for mold in your home and figure out the best way to proceed.
You wouldn’t normally think of dust as a living thing, but within tufts of dust live dust mites, microscopic tick-like insects who feast on our dead skin. Dust mites live anywhere warm, dark, and comfortably humid—and that includes your bedding. An allergy to dust mites can cause inflammation of the nasal passages, watery eyes, and even trigger asthma attacks. Cut down on dust and wash sheets regularly to avoid this reaction.
Just the word “roaches” strikes fear into any homeowner’s heart. Discovering one in the flesh—or rather, in the exoskeleton—can feel even worse. Cockroaches are not only unwanted houseguests, but the proteins in their bodies, droppings, and even saliva are a common allergen for many people. Their reputation as a particularly filthy creature is not unearned. If you suspect cockroach infestation, begin by covering open pet food bowls, keep trash cans well-covered, and set traps.
A cruel irony: in trying to keep your home clean and free of allergens, it may be the cleaning supplies themselves that are making you sick. The solvents in household cleaning products are among the most common causes of indoor allergies. If you suspect they’re the issue, consider switching to green products or even developing your own solutions at home.
Thank you for sharing this information! I just want to add that allergy symptoms can be reduced with pleated air filters installed in air conditioners and furnaces. Pleated air filters can trap all allergens, including pollen, dust, and dander. They are given a MERV rating, and the higher the number, the more effective the filter is. Generally, a rating of at least 13 is desirable for allergy sufferers.
That’s a good point! Pleated filters with MERV rating are a good filtration option. But it’s worth mentioning that such filters can only trap particulates like dust and pollen. If you’re looking for something that will remove VOCs (cleaning products are the most common source of them) in your home, consider carbon air filters – they are designed to trap gases through a process called adsorption.
Thanks for such a valuable addition. Yes, air filters with a MERV rating between 7-13 are the best for homes. Any filter with a MERV rating higher than 13 can restrict the airflow and make the system work harder.