Allergens: Beware of Mold and Dust Mites
may think that keeping yourself locked away indoors can prevent
you from having an allergy attack, but there are several
things hiding indoors that have the potential of causing an allergic
reaction. There are two common household occurrences that may be
making you sneeze without you even know it. The mold in your bathroom
and dust under
your bed may be the cause of your constant stuffiness. Here are
some ways to identify these household allergic substances
and tips on allergy prevention in the home.
Mold is part of the fungus family. There are thousands of different
types of molds in the fungus family. While yeasts (also part
of the fungus family) are single cells that divide into clusters,
molds are composed of many cells that branch out and grow threads.
The reproductive seeds of mold are called spores. Each spore can
create new mold growth. A good climate for mold growth requires
moisture, oxygen, and shade. Mold can thrive under these conditions
outdoors in rotting logs or fallen leaves in moist shady areas,
but mold is also found indoors.
According to the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,
common areas for mold growth in the home include damp basements
and closets, bathrooms, place where fresh food is stored, refrigerator
drip trays, house plants, air conditioners, humidifiers, garbage
pails, mattresses, upholstered furniture, and old foam rubber
The tiny fungal spores of mold can cause allergic rhinitis if inhaled.
The small size of mold spores makes it easier for the sports
to reach the lungs through inhalation. The mold spore, like pollen,
is an airborne allergen but is only a problem if spores are numerous,
allergenic, and light enough to be carried by the air. Luckily,
there are only a few dozed different types of molds that can
The molds most commonly found both indoors and outdoors in the
U.S. include Alternaria and Cladosporium but Aspergillus, Penicillium,
Helminthosporium, Epicocum, Fusarium, Mucor, Rhizopus, and Aureobasidium
are also common.
To avoid mold try to steer away from piles of raked leaves or uncut
fields because they are a breeding ground for mold growth. Also
remember to keep windows and doors closed and use air conditioning
and a dehumidifier to reduce humidity indoors. Make sure you
clean moldy surfaces and keep those areas dry.
Dust Mites Defined
According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, a dust
mite measures only about one-quarter to one-third of a millimeter.
They thrive in temperatures from 68 to 77 degrees and humidity
levels from 70 to 80 percent.
House dust mites usually live in bedding, carpets, and upholstered
furniture. They flourish in summer and usually die in winter unless
the house is warm and humid even during winter. If this is the
case, dust mites can live all year round. It is in fact the particles
of dead dust mites and their waste products that initiate an allergic
Get Rid of Dust Mites
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases notes
that dust mites are probably the most common cause of perennial
allergic rhinitis. Most dust mites live in the bedroom so in
order to gain control over dust mite allergy, the bedroom should
be your first focus for improvement.
The AAFA provides several ways to reduce the amount of dust mites
in your home:
mattresses and pillows in zippered dust-proof covers
- Wash sheets
and blankets weekly in hot water (at least 130 degrees F)
away from wall-to-wall carpeting, blinds, wool blankets,
upholstered furniture, and down covers and pillows
- Keep pets
out of the room
- Use roll-type
shades for windows rather than curtains; if you do use curtains,
wash them often
Allergy supply companies can also provide you will special filters
for vacuum cleaners to prevent mite waste from circulating back
into the air during vacuuming. Another tip is to reduce the humidity
in your home through the use of a dehumidifier or air conditioner.
This may help for those with a mold allergy as well.
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