How to Reduce Your Exposure to Allergens

How to Reduce Your Exposure to Allergens

50 million people in the United States have allergies. If you have allergies, you aren’t alone. People with allergies seek relief in any manner they can find it. From traditional treatment with antihistamines and immunotherapy to neti pots and acupuncture. There’s a crowd in the doctor’s office because allergies and asthma account for over 10 million visits to the doctor's office every year. If you want to cut down on the doctor visits reduce your exposure to allergens.  Here’s how. 

Understanding Allergies 

Allergies are caused by a defect in the immune system. Think of it as a case of mistaken identity. Your immune system misidentifies harmless proteins as germs. So instead of fighting germs that could cause you harm, your immune system goes to war with benign proteins.

Your immune system is supposed to defend against bacteria and viruses, but with allergies, it keeps busy defending against substances that don’t typically pose a threat.  These little bits of harmless proteins are called allergens. When your body reacts to them, it is called an allergic reaction.  

It’s really an overabundance of the human immunoglobulin E (IgE). This IgE stimulates certain immune cells to release histamines, leukotrienes, and other substances that cause hives, itchy and watery eyes, eczema, coughing, sneezing, wheezing, runny nose, stuffy nose, asthma and other allergic symptoms.  

Allergies are chronic. That means they can’t be cured but they can be controlled. The way you control your allergies is by reducing your exposure to the allergens. 

Common Allergens 

Allergens can be in the environment or in your food. The most common environmental proteins that are inhaled come from dust mites and their feces, cockroaches, pollens, and household pets.

In addition, you can touch metals, chemicals or plant-based substances in your environment that cause allergic reactions.  These environmental contact allergens are nickel, lanolin, latex, and wool.  The most common food proteins are from eggs, milk, tree nuts, peanuts, and shellfish.   

Reduce Exposure and Reduce Reactions 

So, if you are going to reduce or eliminate allergic reactions, start with eliminating your exposure to the problem causing protein. 

Food Allergies 

For food allergies, you must carefully examine every food label.  When possible, stay away from prepared, processed, and prepackaged food  If you make it yourself, you know what is in it! Keep in mind that most food processing plants handle a variety of foods. It is totally possible for your canned peaches to be processed in a plant that processed peanuts or pecans.

Labels now indicate if the most common allergy-causing foods are processed in their plant. When you see the disclaimer, set the product back on the shelf and select another brand. Your goldfish shaped cracker shouldn’t have peanuts in it. But if peanuts were processed in close proximity, small particles can float through the air and became part of your cracker. 

Environmental Allergies

Allergy elimination in the home requires some work up front.  But once you have your allergy-free zone established, it is pretty easy to maintain. 

Reduce Exposure to Allergens from Pets 

If you have allergies to pets, keep them outside as much as possible. Keep inside pets off the furniture and out of the bedroom. Fiber-rich surfaces such as carpets, upholstered furniture, curtains, and rugs are magnets for pet-related proteins.  Ideally, you should remove these fiber surfaces from the home. If that isn’t possible, spray them on a regular basis with a denaturing agent such as the ADS or ADMS Spray made by the Alkaline Laboratories.

These products contain safe ingredients that will safely break down the allergy-causing proteins. Breaking down proteins is referred to as “denaturing” the protein and it is one of the best ways to reduce exposure to allergens from pets. You can even apply a denaturing agent directly to the animal.  Allerpet makes solutions just for cats and dogs that denature allergens.

Reduce Exposure to Allergens from Dust Mites 

Eliminating the proteins that cause dust mite allergy requires a bit more work. Our bedrooms are loaded with fibers.  That’s why most dust mite allergy is found in the bedroom.  Make the bedroom the first room to get your attention when eliminating allergens in your home.

Remove all carpeting from the bedroom. If you can’t take out the carpets, treat them with ADS or ADMS Spray. You just can’t eliminate dust mites from your mattress or pillow despite many product claims.  The only proven method, to reduce dust mite exposure from mattresses and pillows is to encase them in special mattress covers.

These dust mite proof covers trap the allergens and keep you safe from exposure while you sleep. Dust mite covers are different from other covers because they are made from special barrier fabrics.  

Remove curtains and fabric valances and replace them with blinds. Remove knickknacks, books, and other dust catching items from the bedroom. This reduces the number of places dust can settle and makes cleaning the room once a week a breeze.  

Speaking of cleaning, dust the blinds and other surfaces in the room weekly with a damp cloth or microfiber duster treated with AllerDust spray.  The damp cloth or AllerDust spray will keep the dust particles from becoming airborne as you clean. 

Strip the linens off the bed (the zippered covers remain) every 7 days.  Wash the sheets, blankets, and pillowcases in 140°F water. If you can’t get your water this hot at home, take your bedding to a commercial establishment or you launder at home with either De-Mite laundry additive or Allersearch Allergen Wash. These products eliminate dust mite allergens with cooler wash temperatures.

If you can reduce your exposure to allergens you should be able to enjoy life a little.