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It may be easy to blame seasonal allergy symptoms on the rising temperatures outside. Anyone used to the sneezing, coughing, and wheezing usually associated with pollen and ragweed may need to take a closer look inside: Even the cleanest homes have hidden allergens that can make symptoms worse.
Alyssa Gruen, APRN with Northeast Medical Group, said some of the most common allergens found in homes are dust mites, mold, and pet dander. You can find these allergens on some common culprits, such as clothing, drapes, wool blankets, comforters, carpeting, ceiling fans, and upholstered furniture. But they can also be found on bookshelves, bathrooms, flower arrangements, perfumes or even among pet and children’s toys.
“As the weather starts to warm up, you get more humidity, and that can trap allergens. You get more of the mold, and the dust can stay put so even running dehumidifiers will help,” Gruen said. She recommends eliminating allergy sources and giving ignored parts of the home a deep clean every few months. A few ways to upgrade your spring cleaning include:
- Tossing drapes, blankets, and pillows in the washing machine
- Dusting the top of ceiling fans
- Cleaning forgotten bookshelves
- Removing clutter
- Getting pets groomed
- Considering a professional cleaning for wall-to-wall carpeting
- Using a HEPA filter for air purifiers
Even adults who never experienced allergies before may develop symptoms later in life due to a move or even climate change. Sometimes, patients may only exhibit one symptom such as congestion, hives or post-nasal drip. If you think your allergies are getting worse or are developing some new ones, an allergist can help determine what exactly you are allergic to in your environments. “If you're always having symptoms around pets and want to confirm, is this the cat? Is it the dog? That would be a good time to get tested,” Gruen said.
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