Do you ever wonder why you might be sitting in your lounge room and all of a sudden, you start to sneeze – and you just can’t stop; but when you go into your bedroom at the other end of the house, everything seems fine?
Or perhaps you’ve noticed that your children are suffering from problems with their skin, they might have red and itchy outbursts and you have no idea why because the house is clean, their clothes are washed, and they haven’t been anywhere that could be causing them to break out in a rash.
It could even be that your parents are visiting and all of a sudden they start to complain about feeling short of breath, or their sinuses block and they find it harder to breathe, with itchy eyes.
Allergies are one of the things everyone hates, but no one can see. And they can be caused by many things; in particular, pollutants in the air. When we walk outside, we face an abundance of allergy producing pollutants, with everything from traffic exhaust particles to pollen floating through the air; but it’s what we find in the home that can cause even more damage.
While there are some allergens in the home that we can’t see (see our blog on The hidden pollutants that lurk in your home), others are a lot more obvious and the good news is, there is something we can do about them!
While we all know that tobacco smoke can cause and contribute to asthma, if the air in your home is also filled with smoke, it can enhance the production of IgE, which is the allergy antibody, triggering a range of allergic reactions. People who generally suffer from allergies are more likely to develop an irritation to cigarette smoke as well, including coughing, watery eyes, stuffy nose and wheezing. In some cases it can even cause eczema.
Second hand smoke can be just as dangerous as lighting up yourself, especially for children, with 4,000 chemicals produced in second hand smoke! And even if you live alone and don’t smoke in the home when visitors arrive, you are still putting them in harm’s way through third hand smoke – that’s the musty smell that stays in your carpets and walls and your clothing for months or years after you’ve quit.
So whether you’re a smoker yourself or you have family or friends who smoke, try taking it outside so that your home is not suffering the consequences of your bad habit.
You might not realize it, but having mold in the home can actually be extremely detrimental to your health. In fact, it has been linked to many types of allergic reaction (not to mention major illness like SIDS and cancer). The scary part – there are actually more than 10,000 species of mold that could be festering inside the walls and roof of your home! Of these, there are three major types, one of which is allergen mold – that’s the one that’s making you sneeze or causing your children to have unexplained eczema. The other two are toxigenic – the worst; and pathogenic, which can lead to bacterial health problems.
If you can’t figure out any other reason for your allergies, it might pay you some good to check your walls, floors, tiles, roof for mold (or better yet, get a professional in to do the job for you). Mold actually lives EVERYWHERE, but it’s more common in spaces in your home that are damp, such as the bathroom or kitchen. If you can, get the house tested regularly so you can get on top of any mold issues before they start to cause you allergic reactions (or worse); and you can also consider buying a hygrometer, which will measure the amount of moisture that is in the air so you can ensure the humidity in your home stays within the “safe” region of between 35% and 50%.
Keeping the house spotless is much easier said than done, but if you or someone in the family is suffering from allergies, it’s something you certainly need to attempt. Dust is one of the worst offenders and it’s probably one of the easiest to get rid of, as long as you take the time to do it and keep it up regularly. Dust could be the result of the elements from outside coming into your home, but it can also be created from you and your dead skin cells. Sounds gross, but dust mites love it; almost as much as they love making you sneeze.
How to fix the problems
For dust – change the bedding regularly, vacuum your carpets every few days, and when you decide to dust – don’t both with one of those feather dusters; that’s only going to make matters worse! Grab a wet cloth and wipe over your cupboards, benches, floors, etc so the dust doesn’t just float in the air, causing even more problems.
Mold – call a professional in to check for mold in the hard to see places, like your roof and air conditioning system.
Smoke – the simple solution is to quit; but if you can’t do that, then keep your smoking outside the home.
And in general, using a de-humidifier or air conditioner can also help you with taking care of the air quality so you and your family are breathing easier in no time.