Is your home making you sick?

Spring and allergies go hand-in-hand, which can mean irritation aplenty as your home becomes overrun with toxins. 

Decoding allergies
An allergy is a reaction to an allergen. Allergens are particles your body considers foreign. When your body meets an allergen, your immune system goes into overdrive, releasing antibodies – substances that identify and go after bacteria, viruses, and other illness-causing organisms. Antibodies attack the allergens, which leads to the release of chemicals (like histamine) into the blood. These chemicals activate symptoms associated with an allergy, like a runny nose and watery eyes. 

Allergy triggers are any and everything from pollen to dust. With spring on your stoep, allergy season kicks into high gear. 

Here’s what to look out for in your home. 

  • House mites: You cannot see these eight-legged creatures with the naked eye. They live in warm, humid places like your bedding and upholstery. 
  • Pets: Skin flakes, dried saliva, or the urine of cats, dogs, rats, mice, guinea pigs, rabbits, hamsters, birds, horses, cows, chickens, ducks and geese can cause allergies. Cat allergens can stay airborne for months and affects nearly half of all asthma sufferers.
  • Food: Nearly 90% of life-threatening food reactions are caused by peanuts, eggs, milk, wheat, tree nuts, soy, fish and shellfish. The symptoms range from swelling of the lips, face and tongue, stomach cramps, vomitting, diarrhoea, hives, rashes, eczema, perspiration and dizziness, to wheezing and severe breathing problems and even death.
  • Moulds: Usually found in old, damp homes.

Detox your home

Wash your bedding! 

We spend roughly seven hours a night in bed, sweating and collecting dust and dirt on our bodies. That’s nearly 50 hours a week! So, it’s essential to keep clean between the sheets, where dust mites live and prosper. Invest in linen covers that have tight gaps between the threads to prevent the accumulation of dead human skin cells (dust mites feed off cells). Wash your bedding weekly at the highest heat to kill off these critters, and regularly vacuum your mattress on top and underneath. 

Clean your carpets
Dust mites like carpets too. And if your pet lives indoors, chances are he rolls around on the carpet, leaving behind pet hair and skin cells. Besides regular vacuuming, wash your carpets thoroughly and dry it out in the sun to kill all allergens. 

Clear the clutter
Cutter decreases productivity and increases stress, and the amount of dust in your home. The more stuff you have, the more dust. People with allergic rhinitis will be most affected by all the clutter. Regular cleaning and decluttering will control the allergens in your home. If decluttering your home is challenging, try getting rid of two items for every one new item you bring into your home. Donate the things you don’t need.

Avoid smoking indoors
Cigarette smoke is one of the most common air pollutants in the home. Secondhand smoke is also harmful as you are involuntarily breathing in nicotine and toxic chemicals the same way smokers do. The smoke settles, especially in homes with a lot of carpeting and furniture, and is known as third-hand smoke. This combines with already-present dust and other pollutants in the home, causing a toxic mix on indoor surfaces.

What’s behind your fridge?
Do you know what’s lurking there? For most, cleaning behind or even on top of the fridge is a once-in-a-blue moon endeavour. But that space could be crazy with dust mites, dust, mould and moisture – breeding grounds for allergens. Clean up excess moisture and spills as soon as possible to avoid the mould matter. From inside the fridge, throw out leftovers before they become homes for parasites. Don’t forget to wipe and disinfect the rubber seals around the doors. 

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