Lighten Your Load
Your "allergenic load," that is. The more allergens you're exposed to at a given time, the higher your allergenic load, and the worse your symptoms are, Dr. Marshall explains. If you're allergic to cats and dust mites in addition to pollen and mold, curling up on an overstuffed chair with Fluffy on a spring afternoon can make that load virtually unbearable. Here are some tips to help you limit your exposure to these top offenders:
Dust mites. Substitute washable throw rugs for wall-to-wall carpets, which, like blankets, down comforters, and curtains, are favorite mite habitats. Choose shades for windows. Or wash curtains, along with throw rugs and bed linens, in hot water (more than 130°F) to kill mites. Dust often with a damp cloth. Get a zippered, plastic, dust-proof cover for your mattress.
Dog and cat dander. Have someone who's not allergic bathe and brush them weekly. Have the same person sweep up using a vacuum with a High-Efficiency Particulate Air (HEPA) filter. (If you must clean up yourself, wear a microfiber surgical face mask, available at garden and hardware stores.) And keep those four-legged fur balls out of your bedroom.
Indoor mold. Get a dehumidifier to dry out your basement, and use exhaust fans in other damp areas, such as the kitchen and bathroom, where mold proliferates. Wash bath mats often, and keep houseplants to a minimum (mold loves potting soil).