Although allergies aren’t usually life-threatening, they’re nothing to sneeze at either. If the constant drip, sniff, sneeze and itch of allergies make you want to claw out your eyes, then here are the best ways to protect yourself.
Choose chicken instead of beef
A recent two-year study found that people who had the most trans-oleic acid in their diets, a form of monounsaturated fat found primarily in beef and dairy products, were nearly three times as likely to have hay fever as those who ate the least.
- Although switching from beef to chicken alone may not help, studies suggest it could potentially make a difference.
- Olive oil is okay; although it’s got a lot of oleic acid, it’s not the “trans” form.
Eat an orange
Oranges are rich in vitamin C, a natural antihistamine.
- Some studies link low levels of vitamin C with allergies. When your allergies are flaring up, consider taking a vitamin C supplement.
Clean out your eavestroughs
Clogged eavestroughs can result in water seeping into the house, leading to mould growth which can exacerbate allergies.
- If you see water leaking out of the end caps or flowing over the side of your eavestroughs, get out the ladder to investigate.
Run the exhaust fan when showering
A hot shower means lots of humidity in the bathroom. Want proof? Look at the mirror. You want to keep surfaces dry and prevent mould from growing. Check to see that the outside vent where the exhaust fan exits isn’t blocked.
- High levels of humidity can result in mould and mildew growth. In turn, they may cause you to have an allergic response.
Wash the shower curtain regularly
Wash the shower curtain in hot water and bleach regularly or use an inexpensive shower liner that you can replace every couple of months. It inhibits the growth of mould.
- Also remember to keep your household thermostat set above 18°C (65°F) in winter. If you set it too low, you’re encouraging the growth of mould in damp air. (Heat dries out the air, preventing mould growth.)
- However, air that’s too dry can also irritate your lungs and sinuses. The perfect humidity is around 50 per cent.
Make sure your dryer vents outside
For every load of laundry that you dry, nine kilograms (19 pounds) of moisture has to go somewhere.
- If your dryer vents into the garage or basement, you’re asking for mould build-up.
Clean the tray under the fridge
The tray is a mould magnet. Use a bleach solution to clean, then sprinkle the tray with salt to help reduce the growth of mould and bacteria.
Wash bedding in hot water every week
Not only does it remove dust and dirt, it’s the best way to kill microscopic dust mites that love your bed even more than you do.
- The dust mites are attracted to the dust, not you, and are usually harmless. They don’t bite people.
Spend time decluttering
Clutter attracts dust and dirt in all the nooks and crannies.
- Get rid of coats and other clothing you haven’t used in the past year – or that you don’t need for the season.
- Put sports equipment in the garage or attic where it belongs. A good vacuuming will then help reduce the amount of dust in your house.
Water plants sparingly
Put pebbles on top of the soil to discourage mould spores. Overwatering houseplants can contribute to the growth of mould.
- Some plants, such as succulent cacti, don’t need to be watered very frequently and are easy-care.
Choose a synthetic doormat
Doormats made of natural material (like wicker) can break down and become feeding grounds for mites, mould and fungus, which then get tracked into the house.
Wash mats weekly, if possible. At the very least allow them to dry in the sun if you’ve had very wet weather.
Clean dead insects from porch lights
As they decompose, they can become an allergen source as their “dust” becomes airborne.
Put a shelf by the front door for shoes
Encourage family and guests to remove their shoes before entering the home to reduce allergens carried in.
Dirt and dust tracked onto carpets and ground into fibres become more difficult to remove. Besides, slippers are much more comfortable to wear around the house.
Keep pets out of your bedroom
Let them bark or meow as much as they’d like, but you spend more time in your bedroom than in any other room of the house. So keep it free of cat and dog dander, which can cause allergies to occur.
Avoid foods with monosodium benzoate
A recent Italian study found that monosodium benzoate triggered allergy-like symptoms, including sneezing and nasal itching, in adults without allergies.
- The preservative is found in juices, pie fillings, pickles, olives and salad dressings. Read the label on foods you consume and see if any trigger allergic reactions.
- For food allergies, it’s always best to consult a healthcare professional who can provide you with proper advice.