You’re staying home to follow COVID-19 safety precautions but you have a runny nose and scratchy throat. Could it be COVID-19? Perhaps, but it could also be allergies. Common indoor allergens include animal dander, dust mite or cockroach droppings, and mold. Unlike seasonal allergens such as trees or pollen, indoor allergens are present year- round
Dust mites, specifically, are the most common cause of indoor allergies. They are found in mattresses, pillows, carpeting, upholstery and, not surprisingly, in dust. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, dust and dust mite droppings can make it difficult to breathe and may trigger asthma symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, tightness in the chest and shortness of breath. Some people may also experience sneezing; runny or stuffy nose; red, itchy or watery eyes; and itchy skin.
"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
- Regularly wash pets and keep them 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.