A few tips for combating year-round allergies

When you think of allergies, "hay fever season" or "cedar season" may spring to mind first -- but pollen, mold, food, and inhaled pollutants are all-weather issues that take place in every season.

A few tips for combating year-round allergies

Pollen and mold

Allergens surround humanity at all times, in practically all environments. Fortunately, it's possible to pinpoint exactly what you're allergic to and practice smart behaviours to keep those pesky particles at bay.

  • Pollen definitely counts as a major source of allergic anguish, and different types of pollen do indeed correspond to specific germination periods. In many cases, those periods overlap.
  • For instance, you may cough and sneeze your way through mountain cedar season all winter long, only to have your oak or elm allergies triggered immediately afterward. Grasses exude pollen most of the year.
  • The most pervasive of all inhaled allergens, however, is mold. Mold grows wherever moisture and light permit, proliferating not just outdoors but also indoors.
  • You may be harbouring mold right now in your bathtub, on your shower curtain, or in your air conditioning ducts. The latter is especially troublesome because the system's fan blows the mold into every room in your home -- and into your lungs, where it can cause serious health problems.

Food and pollutants

Your daily menu provides yet more potential for allergic reactions.

  • The Mayo Clinic lists pecans, walnuts, eggs, seafood (notably shellfish), peanuts, milk, and wheat as common allergens.
  • These and other foods can cause a variety of issues, including skin irritation, itching, swelling, tingling in the mouth, digestive disorders, and a dangerous closing of the airway that may require emergency care.
  • Even the air you breathe may contain allergens from tobacco smoke, industrial pollutants, perfumes, dust, cleaning products, or your beloved pet's hair.

Finding and fighting allergens

The first step in controlling allergens is identifying them.

  • A doctor can perform tests to reveal exactly which substances you need to avoid by subjecting your skin to tiny samples, running blood tests, or (in the case of food allergies) switching out various items in your diet.
  • If you are allergic to airborne chemicals, you may have to stop using a particular scent, try a different soap, or avoid areas where people smoke.
  • As for plant-based allergens, you can't stop Mother Nature, but you can at least keep her out of your house.
  • Do laundry and vacuum regularly to get dust and pet hair off of rugs, carpeting, clothing, bedding, and upholstery.
  • Remove all obvious mold growth from surfaces.
  • Have your air conditioning system inspected for mold and dust -- and arrange for professional remediation if necessary.

Allergens may be an ongoing threat, but taking corrective action against them can help you enjoy your year in better health. Follow this simple guide and you'll get a head start in combating allergens in your home.

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