Sanjeev Jain, PhD, MD
Columbia Asthma and Allergy Clinic • 3400 SE 196th Ave., Suite 101, Camas, WA 98607
It's bad enough when your allergies bother you during a visit to a friend's
home or while taking part in outdoor activities. It's worse when they flare up
in your own home.
But you don't have to sneeze and wheeze at home. There are steps you can take
to reduce the amount of allergens, or airborne particles, in your home.
"Allergy-proofing your home is very important," says Sanjeev Jain, MD with
Columbia Asthma and Allergy Clinic. "If you are allergic to something, you need
to try to avoid what you are allergic to."
Some people with outdoor allergies experience symptoms only during certain
seasons of the year, when pollen from trees, grasses and weeds fills the
But many people with indoor allergies are plagued by stuffy or runny noses,
itchy eyes, sneezing, and wheezing throughout the year.
Common indoor allergens include molds, dust mite and cockroach droppings, and
animal dander from household pets. These allergens are often found in furniture,
bedding, carpet and damp places in the home.
Before you begin to allergy-proof your home, you have to know which allergens
trigger your symptoms. If you don't know for sure, ask your doctor to help you
find out what you are allergic to.
HOW TO START
While it may seem overwhelming, allergy-proofing your home can be a
Start with the bedroom, where you spend much of your time. Then move on to
the kitchen, living room and other areas of your home.
Get other family members to help you with the necessary chores and cleaning.
Within a few weeks, you will have reduced the allergen level in your home.
To successfully allergy-proof your home:
- Vacuum and use a HEPA vacuum cleaner if possible.
- Change your furnace filter once a month.
- Place pillows and mattresses in special allergy proof
- Wash bedding in hot water at least every two weeks.
- Keep bathroom and kitchen surfaces dry. Fix leaky
plumbing, and seal cracks where water can cause mold to build up.
- Make your bedroom a pet-free zone.
- Make sure gas appliances and fireplaces are properly
- Do not allow smoking in your house.
You probably won't be able to tell by looking that you've
reduced the allergens in your home.
"Most allergens are very tiny microscopic particles that can't even be seen
by the human eye," Dr. Jain says.
But if you're successful, you should have fewer allergy attacks and feel
better in your home.
If your allergies still flare up after allergy-proofing, you may want to talk
to your doctor about medications and shots that can be used to treat your