Indoor Inhalant Allergies and Irritants
|Gary S Flom MD FACS FAAP
American Board of Otolaryngology
Fellow American College of Surgeons
Fellow American Academy of Pediatrics
About the author: Dr Flom is a Board Certified Otolaryngologist. He practices in Metro Atlanta and is a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics. His special interests include chronic sinusitis, tinnitus, vertigo and upper airway allergies.
With winter approaching, most of us will be spending more time indoors. There are many airborne irritants that may cause sneezing and nasal congestion. In addition, heating can cause a drop in humidity which can cause nasal congestion.
It seems counter intuitive, but indoor dry air caused by heating your home can cause increased nasal and sinus secretions. This is due to the mucous glands producing moisture to combat the dryness, and at times over secreting. If your house air is too dry, consider using a saline nasal spray every few hours during the day and petroleum based nasal gel at night. By applying nasal moisture, the natural response of production of excessive mucus will be curtailed.
Indoor dust mites are common and particularly like areas where there are skin cells. These areas may include any seating surfaces, mattresses, towels, etc. Anti allergy covers are available, and after washing towels, be sure they are dried well before rehanging in your bathroom. Moist towels and linens encourage mold.
If you have curtains or drapes, be sure to keep them as dust free as possible with vacuuming and possibly professional cleaning if needed.
If you have pets that are indoor/outdoor, they can bring allergens and irritants into the home. To my surprise, our dog even brought small frogs into our house! Couldn’t see them initially, as they would hitch a ride on her belly fur. Keep your pets clean and inspect their coat occasional for hitchhikers 🙂
Keep your duct work free of irritants by getting duct cleanings every few years. When vacuuming, don’t forget to vacuum the vent and return covers.
Clean your clothes dryer screen every time you take clothes out. This will not only help get rid of allergens and irritants, but significantly lower the risk of a dryer fire. And don’t run your dryer at night while sleeping for the same reason.
Replace sink sponges frequently, as they are moist most of the time and can harbor mold.
Have a happy, pleasant and healthy holiday season!