March 20, 2018

Spring is here, and while we’re excited to welcome warmer weather after an especially cold winter, the change in seasons can also mean a new wave of discomfort in the form of allergies.

Allergies are incredibly common and affect millions of people worldwide. To help you stay safe and healthy this allergy season, we decided to lay out the facts on allergies:

What are allergies?

Allergies are best described as responses from your immune system. Your immune system is responsible for protecting you from any invading outside sources that can cause illness. Some immune systems mistake specific sources (like dust, mold, and pollen) as threats, even though they are generally harmless. These false threats are referred to as allergens.

When your immune system detects an allergen, it will work to produce antibodies to fight off the threat, and the chemicals these antibodies release will cause what is known as an allergic reaction.

How can you tell if you have allergies?

Allergic reactions can cause very recognizable symptoms, and typically include an irritated nose, throat, lungs, sinuses, ears, stomach, and even skin. If you consistently experience these symptoms, it’s possible you may have an allergy.

Why is it important to pay attention to allergies?

According to Dr. Tany Elliott, aside from causing uncomfortable symptoms, untreated allergies can lead to asthma, sleep apnea, and lost productivity at work and school.

Are allergies only during the spring?

While springtime is notorious for outdoor allergies due to an influx of tree pollen in the air, different seasons can trigger different allergies: grass pollen in the Summer, weed pollen in the Fall, and even cedar trees in the Winter.

Can staying indoors protect you from allergies?

Unfortunately not!

Indoor allergies can be just as common as seasonal outdoor allergies--and unfortunately they occur in our homes year-round.

What are some sources of indoor allergies?

Dust is the most common indoor allergy and affects about 20 million Americans throughout the year. This is no surprise, since one piece of dust contains a potpourri of unpleasant items like dead skin, mold spores, pieces of dead insects, and pet dander.

Dust can cause itchiness, asthma, eczema, and hay fever. Exposure to dust mites has also been linked to conjunctivitis, hypersensitive pneumonia, and both allergic and migraine headaches.

Your house can have dust mites even it if isn’t very dirty. Sometimes cleaning can do more harm than good--vacuuming can stir up dust mites off your carpet and into the air.

Also, sometimes we can inadvertently bring outdoor allergies inside when allergens like pollen attach to our shoes, clothes, pets, and even hair.

How can you keep indoor allergies at bay?

Creating an allergy-free home is very easy once you make a few changes. Dust mites thrive in carpets, drapes, curtains, and upholstered furniture, so it’s best to opt for a home with blinds, hardwood floors, and leather or wood furniture.

The harmful chemicals found in most air fresheners, aerosols, and candles can cause allergy symptoms as well.

For extra measure, most allergists recommend changing the air filters in your home’s heaters and air conditioners at least every 3 months.

How do you know if you have indoor allergens in your home?

Indoor allergens are difficult to spot because they can be small air particles. The best way to keep track of the allergens in your home is with an indoor air quality monitor, like Awair. Awair tracks toxins and chemicals in your air to help you stay safe and healthy all year.