Spring is once again around the corner for many of us, and with the coming of new plant life, there is also the arrival of hay fever and weeks of itching, runny eyes, blocked noses and generally feeling miserable.
For those of us that are blessed not to have airborne allergens affecting us, it’s hard to understand just how frustrating and even debilitating these conditions can be, but with a few simple preparations, you can defend your home against allergens including pollen and dust mites.
What are dust mites?
House Dust Mites are microscopic little organisms that live within our dust that collects in our homes. They can’t be seen by the human eye and are not harmful to humans themselves. They do, however, feed on our dead and discarded skin cells and, as with us humans, when they eat they produce waste. In fact, they can produce up to 200 times their weight in waste, and it’s this which causes an allergic reaction in some, akin to that of hay fever sufferers.
Do I need an exterminator?
No, not quite. The dust allergy is actually caused by the waste of the mites and they are, unfortunately, a part of everyday life rather than an infestation. There are, however, some things that you can do to reduce their numbers and the impact they may have. Dusting down surfaces where dust gathers is an obvious start, but house mites really love carpets and soft furnishings so regularly vacuuming and wiping down these are also advised. You can also purchase air filters and purifiers which may filter some of the particles that cause the reaction away.
House dust mites love a nice warm and humid environment too, so turning down the heating a little and dehumidifying the air will make a difference too.
What about hay fever?
There are a few simple but effective ways that you can guard against pollen, the cause of hay fever, in your home. The first, and most obvious, is to try to keep the portals to the outside closed during the high pollen times. That means that doors and windows should be kept closed so that the pollen cannot be carried in on the breeze. The pollen spores will also gather on household fabrics, such as sofas and curtains; regularly wiping these down with a clean damp cloth will help to remove some of these spores, as will trying to keep outdoor clothing, such as shoes and boots, out of the main living area where possible.
Pets are also a consideration. Dogs and cats alike love to run and roll around in long grass and through plants, but this will often leave their fur covered in the tiny pollen spores. Again, giving your pet a wipe down with a damp cloth or towel when they come inside will help remove some pollen. Remember to wash those cloths regularly, though, to get rid of the spores altogether.
What to do when you have a reaction
Regardless of the preparations and precautions you take, it’s likely that if you suffer from house dust mite or hay fever allergies, you will be affected. If this happens, your local pharmacist can offer guidance on medications or further preventative measures, as well as the many online resources you can find. There are over the counter medications which should suit most people, but if these do not work, then you should contact your physician for further guidance.