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The Endless Allergy Season: Suffering Outdoors and Indoors

Updated on June 22, 2013

Get rid of VOCs in the home

My red living room using zero VOC paint
My red living room using zero VOC paint | Source

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?

See results
My salt rock lamp
My salt rock lamp | Source


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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 

      3 years ago from San Diego California

      I always shower at night, simply because I'm dirty when I get home and I can't sleep when I'm dirty. You have some great ideas here. Great hub!

    • Jenny30 profile image


      4 years ago from Canada

      My hubby has really bad allergies. Thx for sharing! Great valuable info!

    • prasadjain profile image


      4 years ago from Tumkur

      Allergy is a common weakness causing sufferings to millions in the world. this article has clearly pointed out the causes and remedies for allergies causing by natural materials. Suggestions provided are practically useful

    • jonillynn profile image


      4 years ago

      Awesome info! I suffer from allergies, especially pollen. I take allergy shots and over the counter medicine. The funny thing is, I just recently found out that I have seasonal allergies. I had thought that I caught colds easily. Thank you for the post :)

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Alison Ruth - I am so happy about this lamp. Now I cannot imagine winter without it. I hope you are happy with yours. And good luck with the honey. That too has worked amazingly for me.

      jenslibra - now I won't use any other kind of litter. I watched my friend's 2 kitties for 5 weeks in my home and she brought with them that very expensive blue/white crystal litter and the first thing I noticed is that my chest was congested. That litter was heavily perfumed - of course to mask odor and there was dust that got in my chest. Just awful. It is only pine litter for me. Hope it works for you!

      Thelma Alberts - I am glad you found the hub informative. And have a great day too. Yay!

    • Thelma Alberts profile image

      Thelma Alberts 

      5 years ago from Germany

      I have mites, molds and dust allergies so it´s all year round. I have to cover my mouth and nose when I´m travelling in a dusty road. I have to be careful with what I eat that no molds are growing in the food. Thanks for sharing this very informative hub. Have a great day!

    • jenslibra profile image

      Jennifer Vasquez 

      5 years ago from Long Beach, CA

      Thanks for suggesting the pine litter. I tried one that was made using corn because that litter was supposed to have less chemicals too, but it didn't clump as well as the arm and hammer brand I'm used to using. I'll have to try the pine litter.

    • AlisonRuth profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      BkCreative - Thanks for the further info on the salt lamp, I am light sensitive, prone to the blues in New England winters. Sounds like the lamp will be good for both me and my husband. I will let you know over the winter I am getting one this weekend. Hoping the honey works for my husband. Went to a local farm to pick up, very tasty. Thanks for following back.

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Zai - I am much better off. Thanks!

      AlisonRuth - I love my salt rock lamp. And I also find the light therapy to be very beneficial. Sometime during long dark winter days it is the only light on in the living room and it makes me feel so calm and peaceful. Local honey has worked for me in the past when I moved to a different area and for the first time had allergies. I'd start the honey early April and by the time the bottle was empty - no allergies - and none since.

      jenslibra - I just watched a friend's two cats for 6 weeks. I've never been allergic but suddenly I felt so congested. But turns out it was the litter - there was just too much fragrance which no doubt was all chemicals. I've used pine litter for my own cat and never had a problem.

    • jenslibra profile image

      Jennifer Vasquez 

      5 years ago from Long Beach, CA

      This is a great hub especially because I have allergies. With two cats and a small apartment dust collects fast. Definitely plan to look into the salt rock lamp.

    • AlisonRuth profile image


      5 years ago from USA

      Interesting article, going to check on the ion salt lamp. My friend has those in her home she loves them. Beneficial and they also look nice. My husband has awful allergies so we are always looking for ways to help him. Right know we are trying honey that is produced from the area we live in.

    • profile image


      5 years ago

      Thanks took the day off from everything yadetrsey so I'm pretty much back to normal today unless the weather changes yet again! Hope you're much better off over there

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Angels are on the way - I love that and thank you so much!

      About the lamp pstraubie48, I use it most during the long dark winter, but recently I have been feeling depressed being trapped indoors with a back injury and a serious heatwave here in NYC - I just could not go out even for a bit of air. So I dragged out the lamp and that light - said to offer light therapy - seemed to calm me down just after a night.

      In the winter I do think it controls the amount of dust floating around - it all drops to the floor and I don't have to dust surface tops - which is an endless job in my very polluted heavily trafficked NYC apartment.

      Hope you try it, like it and share your personal experiences.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 

      5 years ago from sunny Florida

      Interesting and useful. I have a question...does the lamp work? Is it effective?

      My allergies are the worst outside with not a lot of issue indoors. However I still would like take any measures to keep it that way inside.

      Thanks for sharing.

      Angels are on the way ps

    • BkCreative profile imageAUTHOR


      5 years ago from Brooklyn, New York City

      Iammattdoran - So many people are suffering. I hope these tips help you.

    • Iammattdoran profile image

      Matt Doran 

      5 years ago from Manchester, UK

      Useful hub BKCreative. I suffer from allergies and I despair sometimes when just when I think I've done everything can and taken every precaution out pops a sneeze and within seconds my nose is running and my eyes streaming all over again! I'll have to look into this salt rock lamp a bit more. Good hub. Matt


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