Allergy Frequently Asked Questions.
Q: What is the meaning of an allergic reaction?
A: When one experiences an altered state of hypersensitivity resulting in an actual physical experience such as sneezing, watery eyes headaches, etc.
Q: What causes an allergic reaction?
A: Overloading the immune system with too much allergy antibodies (IgE) can cause allergic reactions, or by a direct sensitivity to medications, fumes or perfumes.
For example, pollen, molds and dust mites contain small foreign proteins, often referred to as allergens, which involves IgE antibodies. Whenever these allergens exist, the possibility for an allergic reaction to occur exists. Any substance, which is able to induce a person to make an allergy antibody type of immune reaction, is referred to as an allergen.
Q: Which are the most common allergens?
A: Allergy and asthma symptoms are most commonly found in the home and are caused by dust mites, molds, pollen, animal dander, insects and dust. The most common cause of allergies on earth is the dust mite.
Q: What is a dust mite?
A: House dust mites are eight-legged, microscopically sized creatures, and called Arachnids. They are close relatives of ticks, chiggers and storage mites. They thrive and multiply in warm, humid places. Temperatures at or above 70 degrees F and relative humidity at 75-80% are ideal for mite growth. They die when the humidity falls below 40-50% and are rarely found in dry climates or at altitudes above 6,000 feet. It is the protein substance in the fecal matter and body parts of mites that cause allergic reactions.
Q: What can I do to reduce my contact with dust mites?
A: If you keep carpets in your home, you can spray a tannic acid solution, ADS Spray, on them to break down mite allergens. This product can also be sprayed on upholstered furniture. It not only denatures mite allergens but also does the same on pollen, mold and animal dander. X-MiteTM, another combative product, is a moist powder, which can be brushed into carpets, allowed to dry for three hours, and vacuumed up. It safely deactivating allergens created by dust mites, pets and certain pollens, while cleaning and refreshing velvet, velour, corduroy, carpets and other textile fabrics. Frequent cleaning is important. Remember, mites multiply and are constantly producing the fecal matter that causes your allergic reactions.
Q: How can I control dust mites in my bedroom?
A: For your bed, there are washable zippered covers that can encase mites and the fecal material so it doesn't get into your breathing space. (Please refer to our bedroom photo located on our home page).
- Your sheets and blankets should be washed in hot water to reduce mite population in textiles.
- Pillows of synthetic materials are better and even these should be encased with the zippered covers.
- Avoid using comforters and chenille bedspreads. Remove stuffed animals, carpeting, knickknacks, books and other dust collectors.
- Pets should be kept out of your bedroom. Remember, mites love to eat dander and skin flakes and pets produce both of these.
- A dehumidifier can keep the relative humidity below 40% to deter mite growth. Lower temperatures are also beneficial.
- Room air cleaners are helpful as they remove the airborne fecal material. These can operate around the clock to reduce your exposure.
Hang clothes in your closet and keep the door closed, or put them in dresser drawers. Remember, you want to reduce and dust producers or dust catchers.
Q: What is house dust?
A: It is the result of the natural decomposition of the things we have in our homes plus that which infiltrates through cracks in doors and windows. Its composition varies from house to house, but in general you may find textile fibers, decomposing insect parts, animal dander, human and animal hair, food leftovers, pollen grain, mold spores, bacteria, skin flakes, insulation, sand, and the most likely offender, the dust mite and its fecal material.
Q: How can I reduce my exposure to house dust?
A: It is best for the dust sensitive person to not vacuum or dust. If one must do these tasks, wear a mask and use a vacuum cleaner with a high efficiency filter or 3MTM Filtrete Vacuum Bag to reduce your exposure.
There are electrostatically charged cleaning cloths and mops, which attract and hold the dust to keep it from becoming airborne. Using a damp mop on floors and wills can reduce dust levels. Don't forget to clean bed springs, window sills, under furniture, Venetian blinds, and other dust catchers with a damp cloth.
- Remove carpets and as many dust producing and dust catching items from your home as possible.
- Keep pets out of the house.
- Mattresses, box springs, and pillows should be encased with impermeable zippered covers.
- Keep clothing in drawers and closet doors closed.
- Vacuum frequently with a machine equipped with a High Efficiency Air Filter, a HEPA filter.
- A High performance filter in the central air system can remove 90+% of the dust from the air as it operates.
For information on msm supplements for allergies:
Arthritis MSM Supplement Center
Q: Where do pollen grains occur?
A: Trees, weeds, flowers and grasses produce pollen grains, which become airborne by the wind. Not only are you exposed to it outdoors but in your home as well. These allergens are carried indoors on our clothing, pets, and they infiltrate through doors and windows.
Q: How can I reduce pollen exposure?
A: Be informed about the pollen timetable in your area.
- During peak seasons, stay indoors as much as possible.
- Keep windows and doors closed.
- Keep clothing worn outside of your bedroom.
- Seal windows with tape to stop infiltration from the outside.
- Use a high performance filter in your central air system.
- Use a room air purifier in your bedroom, play area or office.
- Use a mask when walking, performing housekeeping tasks, grooming pets, or working outside.
- Keep pets outdoors or bathe them frequently with Allerpet.
A tannic acid solution such as ADS anti-allergen dust spray can be used on carpets and upholstered furniture to denature pollen grains.
Q: What is animal dander?
A: Animal dander is not the hair or fur of a dog, but is old skin scales, which are constantly being shed.
With felines, Felis domesticus allergen 1, a primary cat allergen, is a glycoprotein found in the sebaceous glands of the cat's hair roots and in their sublingual salivary glands. It is also present in the urine of male cats. Pet birds produce a feather dust, which can cause allergic reactions. Allerpet for birds can be safely sprayed to your pet to further reduce feather dust.
Q: How do I reduce my exposure to animal dander?
A: Remove the pet from the house and then clean ALL surfaces thoroughly with a damp mop or cloth.
- Use a vacuum cleaner with a High Efficiency Air Filter to trap the tiny particles of animal dander.
- Bathe your pet weekly with Allerpet, a shampoo and conditioner.
- If the pet cannot be removed from your home, at least keep it out of the bedroom.
- Use a room air purifier in your bedroom to remove airborne animal dander.
- Wear a mask when grooming your pet.
- Keep clothing worn when playing with pets out of your bedroom
Q: Can cockroaches produce allergens?
A: Yes, it is the cast skins of the cockroach, which causes most of the allergic reactions.
Q: How can I reduce exposure to cockroach allergens?
A: Keep all foods in sealed containers.
- Remove all food waste from your home or office.
- Keep plumbing well maintained to reduce leaks and condensation on pipes, which become a water source for roaches.
- Increase ventilation in damp areas.
- Seal roach entry areas around baseboards.
- Use Damp Rid in kitchen cabinets, under appliances, and sinks.
- Use a high performance filter in your central air system.
- Use a room air purifier in any room suspected of cockroach allergens.
- Use a mask when working in this room until the problem is resolved
Q: What is mold and how does it grow in my home?
A: Mold, mildew and fungi are all terms used to describe a diverse group of plants, which appear as a woolly or powdery growth. They have been recognized as allergens for centuries. Molds are everywhere-indoors and out, found in any climate. They are elusive and will be more prevalent at different times of the day or night.
They are found in decaying leaves, straw, grains and wood. Mowing the grass, raking leaves, cleaning pet litter, or evening cleaning your closet. Any form of contact to these things can expose you to mold. Poor housekeeping practices is another way that can increase mold growth, i.e. dirty dishes and food left around the house, trash kept in the house in cans or compactors, dirty clothes lying around and infrequent housekeeping. Even the use of ceiling fans in lieu of air conditioning can increase mold levels in homes. Higher thermostat settings means the air conditioner operates less so humidity is not removed from the air.
Your home's filters, if inefficient, will allow dirt to accumulate on coils, the drain pan and duct work. This dirt becomes "food" for the mold.
Q: How do I reduce mold exposure in my home?
A: The first step is to locate the mold in your home. Mold test kits are available should the need arise. Inspect your walls, ceilings, carpets, windowsills, drain pan, ductwork, vents, bathrooms, and wall board for any darkened or discolored areas.
- Decrease moisture and the food source for mold on all surfaces.
- Use a high performance electrostatic air filter in the central air system.
- Remove items on which mold can grow from the bedroom.
- Use a room air purifier in the bedroom.
- Drain and ventilate areas under and around the house.
- Clean and maintain your central air system.
- Use air conditioning to reduce humidity.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep relative humidity below 40%.
- Frequently use a HEPA vacuum cleaner on carpets and furniture.
- Clean visible mold from surfaces using Safety Clean or Super Clean. Then treat cleaned areas with X-158.
- Remove moldy carpets.
- Ventilate and put lights in closets.
- Keep shrubs and grass trimmed from around the foundation of the house.
- Wear a mask when doing any activity that could expose you to mold spores.
- Use Damp Rid to help prevent mold and mildew.