The Endless Allergy Season: Suffering Outdoors and Indoors
Get rid of VOCs in the home
Ways to Survive the Endless Allergy Season
Do you find yourself suffering with runny eyes, scratchy throat and sneezing even when you come indoors? It's most likely due to the pollen you track indoors, as well as the other choices you make for indoor living.
For the past several years scientific evidence has shown that the air quality inside our homes can be more polluted than the air quality outdoors, according to the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency). While we have little or no control over the air quality outdoors and how it affects us during allergy season, we can take steps to improve air quality indoors where we are likely to spend most of our time. Remember, too, that our children and the elderly are most likely to be affected. People with outdoor allergies and respiratory problems are likely to suffer even more with indoor pollutants.
Unfortunately, it doesn't end there for allergy sufferers. For those who suffer from seasonal outdoor allergies, you may be surprised to learn that many foods should be avoided during allergy season. See list of foods to avoid below.
Below are some simple suggestions to help you clean the air indoors:
1 - Avoid all those scented products designed to make your home smell sweet. This includes cleaners and candles that are scented with fragrances, as well as the plug in air fresheners. Plug in air fresheners are designed to continuously release a scent thereby constantly putting pollutants into the air. These products can emit irritants known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs). Large amounts of these can cause runny noses and headaches and even worse.
What can be worse?
What can be worse is what can happen when you paint and use paints made with VOCs. When I moved into my apartment I ran out and bought a cheap white paint to freshen up the place. After I finished I thought I had the flu and was just about knocked off my feet. Fortunately, I had an elder in my life; she told me it was not the flu but the paint I used causing flu-like symptoms. Since then I have only used zero VOC paints and had no more flu symptoms. (see photo above of my red living room)
Note: Even though manufacturers are allowed to claim their paints are zero VOC, a minimal amount is permitted. It's best to paint in the winter so you can open the windows.
2 - Because children are likely to suffer more than adults it's important to eliminate dust mites. Dust mites settle deeply into fibers, and wall to wall carpeting can be a problem. It is best to have area rugs that can be regularly washed in hot water. The same applies to bedding. To clean fabric furniture of mites it is best to look for a vacuum cleaner that has a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter.
Encourage your children to wash their hands when they come in from playing outdoors.
Can a salt rock crystal lamp help? In the photo below is my lamp that I use from fall to spring. They are believed to put negative ions in the air that help neutralize toxins and pollutants. They are also supposed to reduce humidity and reduce dust mites. How does it work? The salt gets gently heated by the low watt bulb - usually 15 watts. Salt crystals are then released into the air, attach to the various impurities and weigh them down so they cannot circulate and therefore you cannot breathe in the impurities. But does it work? I have to admit I am a big fan. See article below about my salt rock lamp. Additionally, I get the benefits of light therapy during long dark winter nights.
3 - Kick off your shoes at the front door to avoid tracking pollen throughout the house. As simple as it sounds it is still not an American tradition. Growing up we always had what was called bedroom slippers to wear throughout the house. My floors also stay much cleaner.
4 - Shower or bathe at night. Yes, my friends and I fist-fight about this all the time. Many people think it best to shower in the morning before you go off to work.To me it just makes more sense to wash as much of the outdoor pollutants (and road tar) off of you rather than take it into bed with you, all over your hair and body - and to your sheets, to your pillow - where they will remain until you wash all the bedding. You are less likely to get filthy just by spending a night in bed. Seriously, what do you think? Join the poll below.
5 - Reduce high humidity in the home. High humidity levels can increase the concentration of some indoor pollutants. The summer months bring high humidity, which in turn, increases moisture in the air resulting in mold and dust mites.The EPA recommends keeping moisture levels between 30 to 50 percent to control humidity. An inexpensive hygrometer from a pet shop or hardware store can measure humidity.
6 - Wear sunglasses on windy days - Other than staying indoors this is probably the only way to protect your eyes from allergens that will blow into and irritate your eyes.
Avoid certain foods if you are allergic to pollens on the list below:
- Allergic to ragweed avoid - watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, bananas, cucumbers, zucchini and chamomile tea.
- Allergic to tree pollen avoid - almonds, hazelnuts, celery, apples, cherries, pears and parsley.
- Allergic to grass pollen avoid - tomatoes, grapes and melons.
- Allergic to wormwood/mugwort avoid - carrots, celery, onions, garlic, black pepper, bell pepper, mustard and parsley.
For more easy ways to improve indoor air quality, see the links below:
What Do You Think?
To reduce allergies is it best to bathe or shower at night or in the morning?
Ways to Reduce Indoor Toxins
- Detoxing Your Home with Salt Crystal Lamps
Will a salt crystal lamp really help detoxify the air in your home? There may be something to those negative ions.
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