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Sharp Health News

The one thing in your house that could be making you sick

Dec. 11, 2015

Dust and indoor allergens

You’ve made it through the long allergy season and you think you’re in the clear. Cooler temperatures and shorter days mean spending more time inside where you’re safe from pollen blowing in the breeze. But there’s often one overlooked allergen hiding in your house that cause fits in those with allergies and non-allergy sufferers alike: dust.

According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, dust can make it difficult to breathe and may trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Dust may also cause sneezing; runny or stuffy nose; red, itchy or watery eyes; and itchy skin.

Dust mites, specifically, are the most common cause of allergy from household dust. They are found in mattresses, pillows, carpeting, upholstery and, not surprisingly, in dust.

Dr. Bryn Salt, an allergy and immunology specialist at Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group, says there’s an obvious way to avoid health complications from dust.

“It may sound simple, but keeping a clean house and reducing clutter is the best way to reduce the effects from dust,” she says.

Dr. Salt also recommends changing the air filters or keeping the vents on heating systems clean on a regular basis.

Because dust is easily disturbed and inhaled while vacuuming, dusting and cleaning, it is advisable to wear an N95 filter mask while cleaning if you are allergic to dust.

The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology also recommends these tips:

  • Remove wall-to-wall carpets, particularly in the bedroom
  • Keep pets out of the bedroom
  • Minimize household humidity (dust mites multiply easily in humid places)
  • Use “mite-proof” cases on mattresses and pillows, and wash bed linens frequently in hot water
  • Install a high-efficiency media filter in your furnace and air-conditioning unit

If you continue to experience symptoms, schedule an appointment with an allergist, who can identify your individual allergy and prescribe a treatment plan.

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