There’s an old saying that the only certain things in life are death and taxes. Well, if you suffer from seasonal allergies, you could probably add a third to that list. While co-workers are talking about how wonderful it is to be outside enjoying the warm weather, friends are calling you to get out for a bike ride and all the world seems to buzz and bloom with activity, your allergies are making you utterly miserable.
People who suffer from allergies tend to go to great lengths to find relief, from carrying nasal spray at all times to banning flowers or pollinating plants from their yard. Sometimes these work; other times they don’t. And while there’s nothing you can do about the weather that brings about tree and grass pollen, there are simple steps you can take in your home to mitigate the effects of these allergens. These five tips will turn your home into a sanctuary when conditions get bad.
1. Maintain your HVAC system
Even if you think your heating and air conditioning unit is working perfectly, be sure to take the time to look it over and have it properly serviced. An inefficient or dirty unit can be an allergen gateway and turn your home into a center for itchy eyes and sneezing. Be sure to do at least these three steps:
- Use only top-of-the-line furnace filters
- Vacuum the dust out from the inside and outside of the unit, including outdoor components
- Get a pro in to service your unit
2. Never let up in the battle against mold
We tend to think pollen is the primary culprit of allergy symptoms during the spring and summer, but mold can be just as harmful, especially if you are in a humid area — that is, most anywhere east of the Mississippi, where mold in the spring and summer is a constant threat. Be sure to regularly check your HVAC system for mold by looking at ducts, evaporator coils and the air handler. Running a dehumidifier can be one of the best defenses against mold.
3. Take some extra precautions
If you need an excuse to sleep in, here’s a great one: Pollen counts tend to be higher in the morning than the late afternoon, so try to adjust your schedule to avoid outdoor activities in the morning.
Also, make it a policy that on days with high pollen warnings, when a member of the family comes home for the day, they should shower and immediately put their clothes in the hamper. This will help reduce the pollen count in your air.
4. Use the air conditioner
There’s probably nothing in the world you want more than to crack those windows and let the beautiful spring cross-breeze take over your home.
Air conditioners don’t only make hot days tolerable, but by keeping your home cool and dry, they make your home inhospitable to spores and mold, which thrive in damp, warm conditions.
5. Take advantage of exhaust fans
Many people don’t realize the fumes from the natural gas they cook with can exacerbate their allergies. Now, we’re not going to tell you to stop cooking, but when you do, put that overhead vent to work. Also, when you shower or take a bath, flip on the vent fan to help keep the room dry, which will prevent mold or mildew from finding a place to grow.
For people who don’t suffer from allergies, some of these steps may seem a little extreme. However, if you adopt them as part of your everyday routine, they will become second nature and go a long way toward improving how you feel.