Environmental Control Measures


Pollen is everywhere and in most places, it is around for a majority of the year.  It travels through the air and it is inhaled, causing both sensitization and symptoms in those already sensitized.  Although difficult to avoid, there are some ways to limit your exposure:

Keep the windows closed in your home and car during the pollen season.

Stay inside or limiting your time outdoors when pollen counts are high.

Stay indoors during midday and afternoon when pollen counts are typically highest.

Enjoy the outdoors after a good hard rain, which will have cleared pollen out f the air.

Wear a mask when you are doing yard-work such as mowing the lawn or raking leaves.

After spending time outside, take a shower, wash your hair, and change your clothes to avoid prolonged pollen exposure.

Replace the filters in your air conditioning/heating system often (at least every 90 days).

Dry your clothes in a dryer, rather than outdoors.

Dust MitesDustMite

Dust mites are microscopic bugs that live in carpets, upholstered furniture, mattresses, and bedding. They are present even in the cleanest of homes, and it is extremely difficult to completely rid your home of their presence. However, you can limit your contact with them by taking the following steps:

Put special dust-proof covers on pillows, mattresses, and box-springs.  Remove and clean these cover on a regular basis.

Avoid bedding stuffed with feathers, kapok, or foam rubber.

Limit the number of stuffed animals in the bedroom or place them in a plastic container.

Wash bedding and stuffed animal weekly in water that is at least 130°F.

Cover windows with washable curtains or window shades, but if you cannot replace your window coverings, vacuum them regularly.

Remove or limit carpeting in the home.  If possible replace with hardwood, tile, or linoleum. Vacuum carpets that you do have once or twice a week. Use a vacuum with a HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) filter. Cyclonic vacuums, which spin dirt and dust away from the floor are also useful.

Use air conditioner to keep humidity less than 50% in your home.  This will slow the growth of dust mites.

Change air conditioning and furnace filters every 90 days, and use filters with a MERV rating of 8-12.


Unfortunately, avoiding pet dander is difficult because it adheres to clothing, carpeting and other furnishings. There has been no evidence to support the claims that there are “hypoallergenic” dogs and cats.  If you own a pet and do not wish to part with your family friend, there are steps you can take to reduce your overall levels of allergen exposure.

Do not pet, hug or kiss your pets because of the allergens on the animal’s fur or saliva.

Keep your pet out of your bedroom and limit their access to as few rooms in the home as possible, but keep in mind that allergen will still travel throughout the house via the heating/air conditioning systems.

Use HEPA (High Efficiency Particle Arresting) filters as well as frequent vacuuming, washing walls, and washing pets with water to reduce allergen levels.

Litter boxes should not be cleaned by the pet allergic patient, and it should be placed in an area unconnected to the air supply for the rest of the home.

Neuter or spay your pet.  This can reduce the amount of allergen they produce.

Caged pets should be kept out of the bedroom and their cages should not be cleaned by allergic individuals.


Molds are found in indoor and outdoor air.  Any home can develop a mold problem under the right conditions. Molds will grow anywhere in the home, however, they thrive in damp basements and closets, bathrooms, refrigerator drip trays, house plants, garbage canisters, air conditioners and humidifiers.  You can control mold in your home if you take the following steps:

Clean areas where mold thrives, like kitchens, bathrooms, and basements, regularly. Clean any visible mold in the home with a 5% bleach solution or detergent.  If you are sensitive to cleaning products, have someone else perform this task.

Fix any water damage, leaking pipes, and faucets in your home.

Remove or limit carpeting in the home.  Replace it with hard wood, tile, or linoleum.

Limit the number of potted plants in your home.  Their soil harbors mold.  Also, limit the number of dried flowers in your home as these typically also contain mold.

Do not use humidifiers in your home

Use dehumidifiers in damp areas such as basements to keep humidity levels less than 50%

Change air conditioning and furnace filters every 90 days, and use filters with a MERV rating of 8-12.


The cockroach allergen is contained in their stool and skin.  Cockroaches thrive in damp environments where food is present.  They are difficult to avoid, since they more than likely occupy all public buildings, however you can control them in your home by taking the following steps:

Hire an exterminator if you have a known infestation in your home

Clean all dirty dishes immediately and put food away in sealed containers

Clean garbage bins regularly and empty them frequently

Seal cracks in your home to prevent infestation


Smoke:  Avoid using wood-burning stoves and fireplaces.  Avoid cigarette and cigar smoke and do not allow anyone to smoke in your home or car.  If you are a smoker yourself, begin a smoking cessation program.  If you live in an area where wild fires frequently burn, try to stay indoors when there is smoke in the air.

Odors: Stay away from strong odors such as cleaning chemicals, pesticides, gas fumes, scented hair products, perfumes, and paint fumes.  Scented room air fresheners and sprays can also trigger symptoms.

Exhaust:  If you have an attached garage, do not let your car run in the garage, even with the garage door open.

Cold air:  When you are outdoors, wear a scar that covers your mouth and nose to warm the air.

Colds and Infections:  Wash your hands frequently with soap and water.

Home Allergy Management for Everyone (HOME) is an online tool to educate allergy suffers on managing indoor allergens. Use HOME to learn about the different types of indoor allergens and to receive room-by-room tips on managing allergies.  To access this tool, go to:


Jul 9, 2014   2143   Paul Barker    Services, Treatment Options
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