Friday, May 30, 2014

Allergy Proofing the Bedroom

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The last time my husband and I moved we were both very busy. I was trying to pack quickly when he saw me and asked what was going on. I was really in a hurry--we were on a tight schedule--and I told him I was busy packing the bedroom things.
He insisted that I talk to him, so I stopped. He asked again, "What's going on? What is wrong?"
"Nothing is wrong. I just have a lot to get done."
"But you've been crying!" he said.
I looked at him, massively confused. "No I haven't."
And then the realization hit. My eyes were red and watering; my nose was running. All the dust that gets stirred up when you pack was irritating my allergies so much, I looked like I had been crying! How embarrassing, but it was very sweet of my husband to check that I was okay.

While this blog is mostly sharing recipes, this post is part of a series about dealing with hay fever.
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I am not a doctor or a nurse, but I have dealt with allergies to dust mites, pollen, grass, and mold year round for most of my life. I've gotten allergy shots through an ear nose and throat specialist (ENT) when I was living in Utah and here in Northern California I see an allergist. I'll tell you more about allergy shots in a future post.

Today's post is about allergy proofing the bedroom.
First, to explain why allergy proofing helps, let me explain a little about allergies and the human immune system. When you are allergic to something, your immune system is fighting off the allergens (things you're allergic to) as if they are harmful.Your immune system can actually handle an amount of allergens (and germs) without you feeling sick at all. Picture your immune system as a bucket. When the bucket is empty or only partially full of allergens or germs, you feel great. It's when the bucket fills up and overflows that you start to have symptoms--a runny nose, sinus headaches, sneezing, fatigue, and all the other symptoms you dread.

The idea of allergy proofing your bedroom is that if you try to get rid of as many much of the allergens in your bedroom where you sleep and spend possibly 1/3 of your day, your immune system will be able to "empty the bucket" and cope better throughout the day with any allergens it encounters.

Allergens often hide in the bedroom in dust--the dust contains pollen, dust mites and anything else, so your goal will be to get rid of things in the room that hide dust, and to clean everything thoroughly every 2 weeks. Because cleaning things every 2 weeks is a pain, it's best to move hard-to-clean things out of the bedroom when possible.

Cheap Things You Can Do To Allergy Proof Your Bedroom:

1) Move books, magazines, and movie collections to another room.

I moved my bookshelf out of my bedroom because books collect lots of dust in their pages. I do still keep a book or two in my room that I'm currently reading, but I keep most of my books away from the bedroom. Do the same with magazines and movies.
2) Keep all drawers closed and put the dirty laundry hamper in the closet and close it. This will help prevent any dust in the clothes from getting into the air. That sweater you haven't washed in 6 months? Keep it in a closed drawer.
3) Limit the number of stuffed animals and pillows without pillowcases. Those you do keep in the bedroom, wash regularly.
4) Move out things that trap dust, or put them in a glass case. If you're anything like me, you don't want to dust a dozen little knick knacks all the time.
5) Every 2 weeks, deep clean the room.
If you have allergies, don a mask (and maybe goggles) and dust everything including fans, window ledges, and blinds. Then vacuum everything. Both of these get rid of dust, but they also stir up dust into the air, so keep bedding on your bed so you don't expose the mattress to dust (so you don't have to clean that too). Then wash ALL the bedding. Yes, even the comforters. It's a pain, but it's so worth it.
Washing the comforters brought the biggest relief to my allergies! I woke up with less congestion.
If you have mold allergies, consider adding 1/2 cup white vinegar to your washer for each load to kill mold.
6) Avoid bringing anything into the bedroom that will bring in pollen or dust. If you were walking in the grass, remove your shoes before you get in your room, rather than tracking it everywhere. After a day outside, shower before going to bed so you don't bring it in. If your dog loves to roll in grass clippings, wipe your pet down with hypoallergenic baby wipes before allowing the pet in your room.
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7) If this is a child's room, consider keeping toys in plastic containers with a lid so they can be closed and the tops easily dusted. Yes, toys are a challenge! The only good news is that dust mostly collects on things that aren't moved and I bet your kid is playing with toys a lot! If there are toys your kid doesn't play with much, maybe they can be moved to another room.
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This bedroom doesn't have a bunch of stuff in it, which is good, but make sure all your pillows have removable, washable pillowcases.
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8) Clean your stuffed animals. I just saw this on Mums make lists: Put baking soda in a bag and then shake your stuffed animals in the bag to easily reduce the dust in them. What a great idea! (Used with permission.)

Other Things You Can Do to Allergy Proof Your Bedroom:

1) Remove carpeting and put in tile or wood floors. All rugs should be washable.
2) Buy liners to encase your mattress and pillows so dust can't collect inside them.
3) Buy an air purifier.
4) Remove curtains and just have blinds.
-----Yeah, I don't do that. Blinds don't block enough light. I do vacuum my curtains periodically with the attachment.

What do you do to avoid allergens?

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