While allergy sufferers should limit exposure to allergens in all environments, creating a "sneeze and wheeze-free" home is especially important. Following is an overview of the most common indoor allergy offenders:
Dust Mites - Dust mites are microscopic creatures that live in bedding, mattresses, upholstered furniture and carpets. They are the most common cause of symptoms for perennial allergy sufferers.
Dust mites prefer temperatures at or above 70 degrees Fahrenheit with a relative humidity of 75 percent to 80 percent and die when the humidity falls below 40 percent to 50 percent. They are rarely found in dry climates.
While it is impossible to completely eliminate dust mites, you can minimize exposure, particularly in the bedroom, with the following tips:
Mold - Molds are commonly found in outdoor air, and they come in any time you open a door or window. Any house can develop a mold problem given the right conditions. Molds require two factors to grow indoors: (1) free moisture that can occur in the form of relative humidity above 50 percent, leakage from pipes or foundations, or any ongoing source of water; and (2) something to grow on. Molds particularly like to grow on wallboard, wood or fabrics, but will grow virtually any place if they are given a chance.
Mold thrives in damp basements and closets, bathrooms (especially shower stalls), places where fresh food is stored, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifiers, garbage pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture and old foam rubber pillows.
You can control mold in your home with these steps:
Cockroaches - Cockroach droppings can not only trigger allergies but also can trigger and aggravate asthma. Since cockroaches require food and moisture to survive, you can help reduce exposure by eliminating sources of each. In cockroach endemic areas, the services of a skilled professional exterminator will be required to keep cockroaches under control. The following steps also should be taken:
Pets - While pets are often important members of a household, they can cause problems for owners who are allergic. Allergic reactions to pets are caused primarily by the animal's dander and short-haired pets are not any less likely to cause an allergic reaction than long-haired animals.
For people with allergies to animals, it is best not to own a pet. Determined pet owners, however, should: