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Indoor Allergy Culprits

Many people are battling outdoor allergens this season, but it may be their indoor environment is also be contributing to allergic reactions.

The Early Show medical correspondent Dr. Emily Senay identifies three common indoor allergens - dust mites, pet dander and indoor mold. Senay offers advice for controlling the allergens within the indoor environment.

Senay says a stuffy or runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing and wheezing all year long are the biggest signs that a person is suffering from indoor allergies. Indoor allergies symptoms begin almost immediately after exposure to an allergen. These symptoms will last as long as they are exposed to the allergen. If an allergen exists inside your home, symptoms can last until you discover what it is in your environment that is causing the allergic reaction. Senay says an evaluation by an allergist/immunologist can help determine what you are allergic to and start you on the road to allergy-proofing your home.

The three common allergens found inside the home are:

  • Dust Mites: House dust is composed of small particles of plant and animal material in the home. Dust mites are the microscopic creatures that thrive in it. The droppings of these mites are the most common trigger of perennial allergy and asthma symptoms. Dust mites are found throughout the home. They love warm, humid areas filled with dust, but they especially thrive in high humidity and in areas where human dander (dead skin flakes) is located. Bed pillows, mattresses, carpets and furniture are great places for them to live.

    To get rid of dust mites and avoid getting them in the future, Senay says to encase mattresses, box springs and pillows in airtight zippered plastic or allergen proof fabric covers; wash bedding in hot water of 130 degrees and then dry in a hot drier; and vacuum weekly with a hepa filter or double bag.

  • Pets: Many times people are allergic to their pet and don't even know it. To help with the allergic reactions, Senay suggests keeping pets out of the bedroom; washing pets weekly to reduce the amount of dander; and replacing bedding and carpeting that has dander in it.

    Similar to eliminating dust mites, Senay suggests using a hepa vacuum filter or double bags. But, eliminating animal allergens from carpet is more difficult because a vacuum does not clean the lower levels of the rug where many of the animal allergens live.

  • Indoor Mold: For indoor mold, Senay says running your air conditioner or dehumidifier can help reduce indoor humidity, which helps breed indoor mold. Also, keep bathroom and kitchen surfaces dry. And, seal cracks where water can seep in to avoid mold buildup.

Visit the American Academy of Allergy,
Asthma and Immunology's Web site for more information.
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