Spring has sprung all across the Northern hemisphere, bringing with it flowers blooming, trees waking up, and beauty all around. Unfortunately, for an estimated 50 million people in the United States, it also brings itchy noses, watery eyes, and lots of sneezing. Seasonal allergies are a mild inconvenience to most people; however, that doesn’t stop allergies from interfering with people’s lives.
Medication has come a long way in helping safely inhibit allergic reactions without causing that notorious “balloon head” feeling, but over the counter allergy meds are expensive. However, there are ways you can help reduce the impact of allergies in your life that are already built into your budget. Here are three great tips to beating your allergies this spring.
Change Those Filters
If you have a central heating or air conditioning system, now is the time to take a look at those filters. In your home, those are your primary line of defense against allergens like mold, pet dander, dust mites, and pollen. If your filter is dirty or old, it’s not going to protect you as well as it can.
When it comes to filters, you want to look at the MERV rating. MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. They are rated on a scale of 1 to 20, with the higher numbers being more efficient. For your home, you’re looking for a MERV 8 to 13 rating. Higher numbers are generally found in industrial or hospital applications.
A MERV 11 filter is rated for sweeping out particles as small as 0.3 to 1.0 micrometers. That’s about the size of common bacteria. So if you’re going with this high of efficiency, you also want a filter that’s treated with some sort of anti-microbial agent. This will help stop mold growth as well.
The time your filters can go between cleaning or replacement is generally determined by their thickness. A one-inch filter should be cleaned or replaced every month; a three-inch filter should be swapped out every three months, and so on. Keep in mind that if you live in an area with much greater pollen counts, you may find yourself cleaning the filter more often.
Vacuum on the Regular
If you have allergies to pet dander, but you still love your cat, Mr. Poodles, and your dog, Mrs. Snuffles, you need to get rid of the hair and dander that is causing your allergic reaction. The best way is with regular cleaning. We don’t mean that you should be using a duster either. You don’t want to kick dust or pollen back into the air. Instead, use your vacuum with the proper attachments.
A soft bristle dusting brush will help you clean shelves and knick-knacks that can harbor allergens, plus the vacuum will suck away all the icky bits that could make you sneeze. Likewise, a good air powered upholstery brush will clean all the hair and dander from your couch and chairs. You can also run over your throw pillows to keep them from making you sneeze every time you lay on one.
There are also vacuum attachments that let you remove loose pet hair and dander straight from the source. That’s right, you can vacuum your pet. Of course, your mileage will vary. Some pets won’t mind, others may require you to invest in some Bandaids after using it. Still, they do work, and very well.
While you’re vacuuming, make sure to keep your vacuum filters clean. Invest in washable and reusable filters to save money; just make sure you have more than one on hand so your cleaning doesn’t stop just because of a dirty filter.
Proper Protective Gear
Sometimes when it’s been a nice low pollen count day, you forget to take your allergy pill. That means the next day, you have to wait for your new one it to take effect. But what if you need to get something done right away? If you’re in a pinch and you have to mow the lawn or do something outdoors when the pollen is falling like orange snow, grab a breathing mask and a pair of goggles.
You want the goggles that come with a chemistry set that are sealed and don’t allow fumes in. The type of mask you get can range from the simple paper filter mask to one that has removable HEPA-grade filtering. The choice is up to you. Just pick one that is close to the sensitivity of your allergies and the activity you’re going to be doing.
After you get done working outside, you want to take a shower. This will remove any particulates or allergens in your hair. Wash your clothes promptly as well to prevent the pollen and irritants from being spread around.
In the end, until they come up with some super miracle cure, allergies are going to be a part of most of our lives. Until that day when the no-more-allergies shot is invented, it’s nice to know there are things you can do to keep your home and life as allergy free as possible.
Having trouble with a spring cold or flu instead? Check out our effective tips for beating that spring cold or flu!