It's allergy season again! Here, how to make your home a haven from pollens, moulds and dust mites.
If you or your family members suffer from allergies, you don't need to look at the calendar to know the season has changed. Fall is prime time for sneezing, wheezing, runny noses, watery eyes and itchy throats. For people with respiratory problems like asthma or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the effects of fall allergies can even be dangerous.
As with any kind of allergy, our immune systems take exception to certain substances and treat them as invaders. In other words, our bodies are mistakenly fighting off allergens as if they were viruses or bacteria – making us quite uncomfortable in the process. These common culprits are behind the misery many of us feel this time of year:
- Ragweed. It's the top fall allergen for a reason. The many species of ragweed start to bloom around mid-August, and each plant will release up to a billion grains of pollen before the season is through. These hardy and stubborn plants are everywhere, and don't expect any relief if you live in a big city -- pollen can remain airborne for days and travel hundreds of kilometres. Worse yet, it clings to just about everything.
- Mould. Blame the humidity and dampness: mould loves wet conditions in the summer and fall. The situation isn't helped any by falling (and rotting) leaves and dying plant matter in our gardens. Indoors, damp conditions in your bathroom and basement during humid summer months also provide an ideal breeding ground. While you can't see them, mould spores can easily become airborne too.
- Dust mites. They're the reason you don't want to put your sheets under a microscope. These tiny, spider-like insects love the humid, warm months of summer. But watch out -- the first time you turn on your furnace they'll get stirred up into the air and end up in your airway.
The symptoms aren't pleasant, but staying indoors until the first frost hits isn't really an option. Fall allergens are indoors as well as outdoors, and pollens and moulds can all too easily find ways to invade our homes if we're not careful.
Click through for some tips for keeping your home allergy-free.
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