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Allergy-proof your environment

Medications help treat allergy symptoms once they strike, but there are several steps you can take to prevent symptoms altogether. The following recommendations can help you avoid allergy triggers whether you're at home, outdoors, or out on the town.

At home

  • Keep windows closed and, if you have it, use air conditioning if you're allergic to pollen. Don't use fans since they can stir up dust.
  • Keep the humidity in your house below 50% to prevent mould growth.
  • If you have pets, consider keeping them outside or perhaps ask someone else to take care of them. Animal dander and saliva are common allergens for many people. If you must keep your pets indoors, do not allow them in the bedroom and be sure to bathe them often.
  • Avoid areas where moulds may collect, including cellars, garages, sheds and compost heaps. If you can, get someone else to clean these areas regularly.
  • Install dehumidifiers in cellars and other areas of the house where moulds tend to collect. Clean these devices every week.
  • Air damp clothes and shoes (in the house) before storing.
  • Remove laundry from the washing machine promptly. Don't leave wet clothes in the machine where mould can quickly grow.
  • Wash shower curtains and bathroom tiles with mould-killing solutions.
  • Don't collect too many indoor plants as soil encourages mould growth.
  • Store firewood outside.
  • Use plastic covers for pillows, mattresses and box springs (bed bases). Avoid overstuffed furniture and down-filled bedding or pillows.
  • Wash your bedding every week in hot water.
  • Don't allow smoking in your house.
  • Wear a mask and gloves when cleaning, vacuuming or painting to limit dust and chemical exposure.
  • Vacuum twice a week.
  • Limit rugs to reduce dust and mould. If you do have rugs, make sure they are washable.
  • When possible, choose hardwood floors instead of carpeting. If you must have carpeting, choose low-pile material.
  • Avoid dust-collecting Venetian blinds or long curtains. Replace old curtains with blinds instead.
  • Make sure there is an extractor fan over the cooker to remove cooking fumes.
  • Filter the air. Cover air conditioning vents with cheesecloth to filter pollen and use high efficiency particulate air filters. Clean air filters frequently.

 

In the car

  • Keep windows closed and set the air conditioner to use re-circulated air if you are allergic to pollen.
  • Don't allow smoking in the car.

Outdoors

  • Minimise walks in wooded areas or gardens.
  • Check the forecast. Stay indoors as much as possible on hot, dry, windy days when pollen counts are generally the highest.
  • Try to avoid extreme temperature changes - they are triggers for some people with asthma.
  • If possible, stay indoors between 7 a.m. and 10 a.m. when outdoor pollen counts are usually highest.
  • Wear a mask (such as an inexpensive painter's mask) when mowing the lawn if you are allergic to grass pollen or mould. Avoid mowing and being around freshly cut grass if possible.
  • Wear a mask when gardening, as flowers and some weeds release pollen and can cause allergy symptoms.
  • Avoid raking leaves or working with hay or mulch if you are allergic to mould.
  • After being outdoors, have a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes to remove pollen that may have collected in your clothes and hair.
  • To protect yourself from insect stings, wear shoes, long trousers and sleeves, and do not wear scented deodorants, perfumes, shampoos or hair products.
  • Don't hang clothes or linen out to dry, as pollen and moulds may collect in them and can make your allergies worse.
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