How to allergy-proof your home
Michael Arbel, MD, is a pediatrician on staff at Banner Estrella Medical Center.
Question: My child was recently diagnosed with asthma and allergies. What can I do to make our home more asthma and allergy-safe?
Answer: Asthma and allergies are chronic conditions that can be triggered by a number of things, particularly allergens. Smoke, dust, animal dander, and mold are a few of the common triggers. Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do to help make your home more asthma and allergy-safe.
First, declare your home a smoke-free zone. This includes cigarette and cigar smoke, as well as smoke from a wood fireplace or wood stove.
Dust mites are one of the most common instigators of flare-ups. Regular dusting is critical in homes where asthma and allergy sufferers reside. An effective strategy for battling dust mites is to reduce the number of places or surfaces where dust can gather. Shag or thick carpeting, upholstered furniture, bedding and picture frames, for example, are all potential dust traps. Having furniture that can easily be wiped down, carpet-free flooring or washable area rugs, allergenic mattress covers and fewer knick-knacks is a good start toward reducing allergens in your home.
Dander (skin cells), saliva and urine of furry pets are also a primary source for aggravating asthma and allergy symptoms. Not having pets with hair or fur is the best option. However, if you do have a dog or cat that you simply cannot part with, your child’s contact with the pet should be limited. Keeping the pet outdoors (when temperatures allow) is a good idea. Or, at the very least, keep them out of areas of the home where your child spends the most time, like the kitchen, living room or bedroom.
Mold prevention is another important aspect of making your home safer for your child. Keep your home dry. Wet towels and clothes, damp basements, bathrooms and shower curtains, and house plants, are some of the possible culprits of mold growth. Using air conditioning, dehumidifiers and exhaust fans can help keep mold to a minimum.
Other triggers of asthma and allergies can include: cockroaches, aerosol sprays, fragrance-scented candles or air fresheners, and fumes from cleaning products. Consult your doctor for other potential household asthma and allergy hazards.