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Tips For Fighting Indoor Allergies

January 19, 2011 · 22 comments

in Health & Fitness, Home & Garden, Misc Tips

This is a guest post written by Deidre Lin.  Deidre is an author, artist, advocate of Healthy Living,  and owner of TransFormX – a blog & website focusing on Healthy Living for Body, Mind and Spirit .

After my house was destroyed during the 2008 Hurricane Season I spent many months afterward living in temporary housing – my camper.  I love my camper dearly and under normal circumstances I never had any problems or issues.  However, this changed while living in it during the subsequent 24 months following the Hurricane.  Due to a number of issues happening all at once, I developed allergies.  Even worse, I had no way of knowing which allergen was the problem or trigger – all of them seemed to be attacking at once.

Due to my circumstances at the time, I did not have any funds to go get allergy tested, or money for allergy treatments, and was unable to move into an apartment quite yet.  But I needed to resolve this issue in order to Live Healthy in the middle of all the chaos!  As they say, necessity is the mother of invention and this is so true!  I came up with several innovative low-cost ways to keep my interior allergy-free.  With the implementation of these 5 Allergy Fighting Methods, within a couple of weeks, my allergies abated to a manageable level.

1.       Cleaning The Indoor Air

Indoor air can be filled with thousands of allergens that cannot be seen; dust, dust-mites, pet dander (if you have pets) and pollution from outside.

The air itself must be cleaned of these allergens so that they are not breathed in and constantly setting off the body’s histamine levels.

Solution: Buy a 20 X 20 box fan ($14.99 at Walmart).  Buy an Air Filter that is rated at least 1300 ($13.99 at Walmart). Plug the fan in and place the filter on the back side of the fan so the air is sucked through the filter.  Presto!  An in-expensive air filtering system.  I had 2 set up in the camper; 1 in the bedroom and one in the main area.

Make certain to change the filters at least every month.

Cost:  $$ 30.00

2.        Lower The Humidity Level

Check the humidity level in your indoor space.  Humidity levels of 55-60% and above can foster molds and mildews.  This is naturally occurring, especially if you are living in a geographical area that is prone to humidity anyway- and you don’t mold and mildew in your indoor living space.

Solution: I was fortunate to have my de-humidifier from the house that was lost.  I set the humidity level at 55% and let it do its job.

If you do not have an external de-humidifier (your AC system has one internally already), you can find one at Walmart or equivalent store for under $100 if you are on a budget – also not a bad investment for your health’s sake.

Cost:  $$100.00

3.       Vacuum With A Hepa Filter

My camper came with carpeting.  My preference is for tile, laminate or vinyl flooring that can be dusted on a daily basis and cleaned easily of any spills.  Carpeting, on the other hand, holds allergens and is very unsanitary.

Again, I was fortunate to still have my Dyson Vacuum with Hepa Filter that I had in my house.  For those who have always wondered if they are worth the cost, my assessment is yes, absolutely!  I had the fortune to find mine in 2005 when I shopped more frequently at Sam’s Club, and happened to find it on sale.  I’ve never regretted that investment.  The Hepa Filter system is available on almost every vacuum currently on the market, depending what you have in your budget.  The best pricing that I found was for Eureka or Dirt Devil smaller vacuums, with Hepa Filters, at Walmart for about $70.00.  Not a bad investment for your health’s sake.

Solution: Vacuum the carpeting at least once a week with a vacuum that is equipped with a Hepa Filter.  The only cost is your time if you already own a Hepa Vac.

Cost:  $$ 70.00

4.       Aluminum Windows

Aluminum single-paned windows can be a nightmare.  Not only are they horrible for energy efficiency, they condensate every night as the air inside is warmer than the air outside.  How does this relate to allergies?  When the water accumulates and sits on the windows and aluminum frame, mold can grow on these surfaces and cause allergy problems for those who are sensitive.

This is especially a problem if you have blinds and curtains in front of the window (who doesn’t?) and the area cannot dry out during the day, thus staying in a damp state all the time.

Solution: This solution is in 2 parts:

First the windows and frame need to be cleaned of all the dirt, dust and mold.  Clean with Clorox Clean Up or a solution of water and cap-full of bleach.

Second, the aluminum portions of the frame need to be treated so that it is more difficult for the mold/mildew to grow again.  The Lysol spray in the can has anti-fungal properties in it.  Spray all parts of the aluminum frame and leave it on there.  Let it dry.  This will inhibit any further growth of mold/mildew.  Repeat the cleaning and treatment once a month as needed.

Cost:  $5 and your time.

5.       Weather-Stripping The Doors

Pollutants are in the air – a modern fact.  But we do not want them in our interior living space if at all possible.  To ensure that pollutants have a harder time getting in when the doors are shut, check and/or change the weather-stripping on the door so that there is no light showing.  Not only is this more energy efficient, it will ensure that your indoor space is cleaner.

Solution: Weather stripping is available at any home improvement store; Lowes, Home Depot or Walmart

Cost:  $$  5 to 25 and your time to install

These methods worked wonders for my allergies when I was in the camper.  I have since moved into an apartment and I implemented the same strategies again with similar results.  Of course, there are many other allergy fighting products & technologies available such as  UV systems and Ozone Machines, and they reportedly work great.  Their only downfall is that they come with a considerable price tag of $1,000 and up!

Worst case scanario, Allergy Fighting Costs are reduced to around $200.00 for the low-cost methods, assuming a new vacuum and de-humidifier are needed.  Amazingly, allergy testing alone costs upwards of $350.00 and yearly treatments are double that amount per year.  Whether you currently suffer from allergies or not, try these low-cost strategies to clean the air you breathe – your lungs will thank you!

From Kris:  Do you have any additional suggestions for getting rid of allergens inside the home?  I personally have gone down the path of allergy testing and ended up getting shots for years.  (I found this treatment did nothing to help me, but I do know it does help some people.)  I am also glad to hear those Dyson vacuums are worth the price, I have always wondered…

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

First Gen American January 19, 2011 at 7:12 am

The box fan/filter idea is brilliant. I personally am a big fan of bleach too for mold/mildew. I just wish I could do it without periodically bleaching my rug or clothes.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 10:09 am

Yes, I had the same problem with the drips 🙂 Now I have my ‘bleach clothes’ that I wear when I have to spray!

The fan/filter combo just arose out of necessity but it works amazingly well LOL
I was horrified to see the color of the filter in just two weeks – all that yuk going into my lungs, no wonder I was having issues!

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Nicole January 19, 2011 at 7:30 am

We switched from a cheap box store filter to an Austin Air Filter ($450) and after we run the thing, allergens are completely gone (in that room). We can breathe again, dripping and itching stops etc. I only need it for about one week a year and DH needs it for about 4. It has been worth every penny.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 10:11 am

Nice @ Austin Air Filter. I will check it out!

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101 Centavos January 19, 2011 at 8:11 am

Echinacea supplements seem to have done the trick for me. I used to suffer from allergies terribly, but have been largely sniffle and stuffy-nose-free for the last year or so. Don’t completely know if it’s the supplement itself or other factors, or if it will work for others, but it has for me.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 10:13 am

101 – Yep I love Echinacea as well. It works wonders for a whole range of issues. I say, stick with what works!

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Money Reasons January 19, 2011 at 9:50 am

Hmm, #1 sounds pretty interesting! I wonder how well it works…

As a sufferer of allergies, I make sure I change my furnace filter every 3 months and I use the allergen filters… I think it helps a lot in summer…

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 10:17 am

Money Reasons….strangely the fan/filter combo works amazingly well. When I moved into my new apartment I figured that I might not need my little home-made allergy fighting system so I did not immediately put it in.

After the first night I woke up with puffy eyes, stuffy nose and all symptoms. That very day I put the fan system into place – at least in each bedroom – and all is good!

I will say that of course the camper was not as tightly sealed as an apartment or home so having the fans run 24/7 was an absolute must. Here in the apartment, I suspect that within 6 months the air will be cleaner and I wont see as much ‘yuk’ on the filter.

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Crystal @ BFS January 19, 2011 at 9:52 am

We have to mop at least every 1-2 weeks, use a 3 layer filter for our air intake, and I take a Claritin if it gets too bad.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 10:19 am

Crystal – I’m with you on the Claritin. I actually take Clarinex which is precription only and has the added ingredient for hives. 🙂

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Linda January 19, 2011 at 11:40 am

I went to an allergist a few years ago and had the basic allergy tests run. I had been dealing with a lot of fatigue and it was suggested that it may be due to allergies. (It wasn’t; it was due to being hypothyroid, although I never would have found that out without going to allergist first…but that’s another story. At least I’m finally being treated properly!)

My tests showed that I had only a mild reaction to the usual things: dust, mold, dust mites. So the allergists recommendations weren’t critical for me to follow, but he outlined them to me nonetheless.

* Get a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter. He strongly recommended a Miele. When I did finally need a new vacuum I shelled out the extra money for a Miele and have been very happy with it. Yeah, $400 seemed like a *lot* for a vacuum cleaner, but it has been wonderful.

* Wash sheets in hot water only. I had been washing them in cold, just like everything else (hey, it saves money, right?). I’ve switched to washing them in hot water only, just to be on the safe side.

*Get a mattress cover made to block allergens. I didn’t do that, so I can’t say how well this suggestion works.

Finally, one of my friends who has bad allergy related asthma recommends wearing a face mask when house-cleaning or doing yard work. She had to eventually hire services for this because even with the mask they triggered her allergies really badly, but the mask worked for her for a while.

I wonder if people who have bad allergies should look into dietary changes, too. Logically environmental allergies are just so non-functional that I often wonder what else could be going on; after all, our species would be extinct otherwise!

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Jenna January 19, 2011 at 12:32 pm

I’ve heard of people taking bee pollen to fight allergies. Not exactly a tip for indoor allergies, but overall allergies.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 12:44 pm

Jenna – yep, bee pollen is great for a number of things. I use it in my smoothies and shakes.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 12:33 pm

Linda…I have the mattress cover but do not know if it works the way it says it does, I figured it wouldn’t hurt. I have not tried the face mask yet but since the allergies abated I have not picked up any. Wearing one if doing yard work or dusting may be helpful depending on the circumstances.
Glad you got the thryroid issue addressed & hope you fell better!

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Invest It Wisely January 19, 2011 at 5:43 pm

I’m one heck of a sneezer, indoors or outdoors! In fact, my knuckles are inflamed right now and my throat was itchy from messing around with some fiberglass on the back of a luminaire while trying to figure out why the little bulbs were getting stuck instead of snapping into place…

Otherwise, winter is usually much better for me than summer, especially late summer, due to seasonal allergies.

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 6:23 pm

Oh boy @ fiberglass. Have you tried allergy meds?

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Invest It Wisely January 19, 2011 at 9:32 pm

I hate all of the ones I’ve tried so I usually just tough it!

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Deidre @ TransFormX January 19, 2011 at 9:38 pm

Yea, took me a long time until I found the Clarinex. I get hives so its the best choice and I hate the others due to the tiredness!

In the last year I’ve found a good herbal allergy med that is fantastic. I’m weaning my way off the clarinex and going towards the herbal. It’s a 2 part system and when I take it – 20 minutes later my head is all clear.

Allergy Releaf system from Herbsetc.com

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Felix C. Obrien March 21, 2011 at 9:56 am

Great Post! I was actually browsing on blogs and sites that would help me with my allergies and how to fight them and I came across your site which helped me with the tips you’ve just provided. I do know a site where you can actually add to your list because it also helped me ease the allergic reactions and attacks that I have. Its in http://www.bestairpurifiersforallergies.org If you have time, check it out. Thanks!

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joyce wilkins September 6, 2012 at 11:15 am

burning eyes sollen lips. happen most in my bedroom, put in new rug, washed all walls..changed fillters an running a hepa allergrn remover all day and night. it’s worse in evening.
HELP

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Cleaners Sydney January 29, 2013 at 1:55 am

I am cent percent agree with you that indoor air can be filled with thousands of allergens that cannot be seen; dust, dust-mites, pet dander (if you have pets) and pollution from outside. So try yourself and your home and office clean as you can.

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