“… At first, I assumed that either my allergies were just indiscriminately worse at night or that there was some unnamed force working against my attempts to get a good night’s sleep.”
Some people love the time of year when the flowers are blooming and birds are chirping at the window every morning. The weather gets a bit more bearable, and you can often downgrade the ten-pound winter coat hanging by your front door to a light jacket. These things sound amazing until you realize that a few other things happen to most people around this time of year… sneezing, coughing, sneezing, watery eyes… repeat.
That’s right, folks, allergy season is upon us. The blooming flowers will be working against us, covering our cars, clothes and skin in pollen. But don’t panic! Besides the variety of medications that people are forced to keep in their bathroom cabinets during this time of year, many of us don’t realize that there are other things that we can do to ward off these allergy-causing home invaders.
I’m sure that many people, like myself, recognize that this can turn into a daily challenge. Most people assume that once spring makes an appearance, they have no other choice but to deal with whatever discomfort may come. Well, that may no longer be the case if we start planning before the height of the allergy season arrives. I have noticed that the more people I meet who share similar and equally frustrating situations, the more likely it is that they have found solutions to these problems or, at the very least, ways of making them more bearable.
There are many things that you can do, besides putting yourself into a medically-induced coma for about three months, to ward off the worst allergens from entering your house. The issue is that not many people are aware of the techniques out there that could help them. The best part is that many of these tricks and tips are simply subtle changes to your daily routine or changes to the furnishings in your house. It may seem like work at first but will certainly be worth it, if it means holding off on taking that third Claritin in one day. To start, we’ll focus on daily changes that anyone can make—absolutely free!
Something as simple as taking off your dirty shoes before you walk into the house can cut down on the allergens that you track in. Most people don’t think about what they’re bringing into the house until they’re already inside, if they think about it at all. Aside from the disgusting things that people tend to walk in on their way to the store, dog park, or post office, people don’t consider all of the dirt and pollen that they bring with them after walking through the grass. Once you walk into the house with those contaminated shoes, there is quite literally no turning back. Yes, you can mop or vacuum, but your air will still suffer from the outside elements that you trap inside your previously comfortable home.
While your shoes make the most contact with dirt and pollen, allergens can also wind up on your skin and clothes during normal day-to-day activities. There are a few other things that you can do to avoid crossover between your furniture and what you bring in from the outside. Changing clothes when you come home can help, as well as showering before going to bed. Showering is especially important because most people spend eight hours or more in their bed every night and often don’t wash their bedding nearly enough. Once your bed gets dirty, it is likely to stay that way, since most people just don’t have time to do seven loads of laundry to clean their bedding every day. It’s much easier to keep yourself clean and limit washing linens to about once a week during allergy season to catch whatever dirt or dust might have made it past your defenses during the week.
Another tip that I’ve come across is one that I will never be able to follow: keeping pets out of your bedroom and off furniture as much as possible. Though this is much easier said than done for anyone with spoiled pets like mine, it is a very good way to keep allergy-causing dander and pollen that your pet might carry into the house away from the places where you spend the most time. Even if you can’t bear the idea of shunning your pet from their favorite sleeping spots, you can still cut back on the dander and dirt that they bring into your house by bathing them more often during allergy season.
Considering the staggering number of people who suffer from allergies each year, it’s no wonder that people are continuing to come up with technology to help others with the same problem. This has been the case when people have attempted to soothe various ailments and annoyances throughout history. For example, when people around the world started to realize that not everyone had perfect vision, they invented glasses. This is an innovation that I, personally, am very grateful for. Yet not all inventions that have changed people’s lives were quite so enlightened as giving people the gift of sight. Someone in the world looked at their dashboard one day, forgot which side of the car their gas tank was on, and as they anxiously approached their local gas station, declared, “enough is enough!” Thus, the arrow indicating which side of your car to put gas in was born.
The Mayo Clinic created a list of things that anyone could buy or swap out to allergy-proof their house. A few of these, we’ve already covered, like washing bedding weekly, but also included in the list are products to make your home more hospitable during allergy season. This includes anything from changing furniture to making the switch from carpet to hardwood floors. I won’t go through the whole list, since not every tip applies to every home, but there are a few products and cleaning tips mentioned that I believe could be helpful without breaking the bank.
One of the products that caught my attention was a dust mite-proof cover for beds and pillows. This not only helps with the “no pets on the bed” dilemma, but also keeps the pillow that you snore into every night cleaner. Though this is one of the pricier tips that I’ll mention, it may also be one of the most worthwhile, as far as effectiveness is concerned. The way I see it, investing in these types of updates is still quite a bit cheaper than many allergy medications over months of use.
Another product that anyone can benefit from is a good air filtration system. Even making small changes like using HEPA air filters in your house or apartment can be helpful. It is especially beneficial to direct the filter toward your face at night to promote easy breathing. By using both products in your bedroom, you are keeping your bed and air cleaner while you sleep, and hopefully, this will result in less allergy symptoms and a better night’s sleep.
Here are a few general tips to maintain a hypoallergenic house:
– Clean your window sills to keep dirt from building up.
– Keep your windows closed, if possible, and rely on air conditioning to keep humidity low and reduce the chance of developing mold in your house.
– Remove clutter and clean underneath things that have been sitting for a while.
– Wash curtains and clean blinds to prevent dust buildup.
My goal is not limited to bringing these possible solutions to your attention but also making it clear that implementing only one or two of these changes may not be enough to make your home comfortable this time of year. The thing to remember when you feel like you’ve tried everything to prevent your runny nose and burning eyes is that there is always one more solution that could work for you.
Allergies can flare up even worse in the house, where all the pollen and other irritants are trapped. It took me years to realize why this was happening. At first, I assumed that either my allergies were just indiscriminately worse at night or that there was some unnamed force working against my attempts to get a good night’s sleep. After years of speculation, however, it finally occurred to me that neither of my assumptions was entirely correct. Yes, my allergies are worse at night, but this is due to the containment of dust and pollen on my bed and around the house. I was also on the right track in assuming that there was a force behind my inability to sleep, except it does have a name.
Pollen, combined with dust and stagnant air, accumulates through the winter months and makes sleeping a daunting task. While you might think that replacing the seals on your windows and doors would be the best bet to seal out the pollen, the seals can actually trap more allergens inside your house than before you made the repair, so it’s important to take steps to increase your air quality indoors at the same time. All of this makes me certain that there are few situations worse than cohabitating with the cause of your discomfort.
Millions of people around the world have allergies to dogs, cats, pollen, or sometimes, it may seem like they’re allergic to fresh air. Everyone reacts to the changing seasons differently and may not think that there is a way to manage their allergies without relying on medication, based on what they’ve tried before. There are so many tips and tricks out there of varying effectiveness, but every person and house is vulnerable to different things. I’m not saying that people should go around gutting their houses and keeping their pets outside, but making certain changes in areas where you spend a lot of time can help.
While everyone is taking this time to get their spring cleaning done, it is also smart to take a few preventative measures that will make your house not only cleaner but a happier place to live. Wouldn’t it be worth the trouble to spend fewer days in a medicated state and more time breathing easy?