Hidden (but Common) Causes for Allergies

Have you found yourself in the middle of a sneezing fit lately? Or perhaps you’ve noticed you are more congested than usual, without showing any other signs of a common cold or flu.

It could be a sign that Allergy Season is here.

We typically associate allergies with outdoor factors that come with the changing of the season, like pollen from trees and flowering plants. It might seem safe to assume that you can help calm your allergy symptoms after staying indoors for a bit–but what if this isn’t the case?

The source of your sneezes may not necessarily be just seasonal pollen. It turns out there are many other allergy irritants, and some of the most common ones are very often found indoors, especially in homes.

How do you make sure your congestion doesn’t follow you into your home? It’s actually easy! It all depends on how well you take care of your home’s air quality.

Many of us take for granted that the air we’re breathing is healthy, safe, and won’t have much effect on us since it’s not something we can typically see–but this isn’t the case, especially for air that’s indoors. In fact, indoor air can be 5x more polluted than outdoors, which can affect allergies, asthma, productivity, and more–even our quality of sleep.

Our air is filled with a variety of different factors that determine how healthy it is, and some of these factors can have a noticeable effect on our health–and even trigger allergies or allergy symptoms.

So how do you make sure you’re in control of the air quality in your home, before your allergy symptoms take control of you? To help you get started, we created a quick list of some of the most common ways your home’s air quality could be giving you those seasonal allergy symptoms:


Dust

Dust is the most common indoor allergy and affects about 20 million Americans throughout the year. This is no surprise, since one piece of dust contains a potpourri of unpleasant items like dead skin, mold spores, pieces of dead insects, and pet dander.

Dust can cause itchiness, asthma, eczema, and hay fever. Exposure to dust mites has also been linked to conjunctivitis, hypsersensitive pneumonia, and both allergic and migraine headaches.

Your house can have dust mites even it if isn’t very dirty. Sometimes cleaning can do more harm than good–vacuuming can stir up dust mites off your carpet and into the air.

How can you get rid of dust mites, then? Dust mites love dark, moist places, with temperatures of 70℉ or higher and humidity over 75%. Regulating your temperature and humidity can help prevent dust mites from spreading throughout your house. If you see dust on your furniture, ditch a feather duster and opt for a microfiber cloth or damp cloth to effectively trap and eliminate dust.


Chemicals

Chemicals are much more common in our homes than we may realize, and they are usually the source of irritation and allergy-like symptoms. The type of chemicals typically found in your home’s air are called VOCs: volatile organic compounds. “VOC” is an umbrella term used to describe any organic chemical that evaporates easily at room temperature–and this trait is what helps make VOCs very common.

VOCs can sometimes come in scary packages–like Formaldehyde, Benzene, and Acetone. Once these chemicals are released in your air, they can easily travel into your lungs and, eventually, blood stream.

VOCs can be highly irritating, to the point of causing allergy-like symptoms. Short-term side effects of VOCs include headaches as well as itchy eyes, nose, throat, and skin. Too much exposure to VOCs has also been linked to eczema flare-ups, acne breakouts, hives, allergies, and asthma attacks.

Unfortunately, it’s very easy to accidentally increase the levels of chemicals in the air in our homes–VOCs are virtually everywhere. You’ll find VOCs in the ingredients list in paint, cleaning supplies, common household products, adhesives–even cribs and other furniture.

You can limit the amount of VOCs in the air in your home with plenty of fresh air–try to run fans and open windows during activities such as cooking, cleaning, and painting. You can also place a few air cleaning plants around your home, which will help pull extra toxins from your air.


Humidity

Humidity plays an important role in your overall comfort, and too high or low humidity can cause health problems. You are the most comfortable when the relative humidity of the air around you is between 20% and 60%.

If your indoor humidity climbs above 60%, you begin to risk mold and mildew growth in your home, which can trigger allergies. On the other hand, if your indoor humidity is below 20%, you’ll start to experience acute allergy-like symptoms, such as eye, nose, skin, and throat irritation.

 


Indoor allergens are difficult to spot because they can be small air particles. The best way to keep track of the allergens in your home is with an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air to help you stay safe and healthy– any time of year.