Allergy is widespread in the United Kingdom, affecting approximately one in four of the population at some time in their lives. Each year the number increases by 5%, with as many as half of all those being affected being children.
"Allergy" is a term used to describe an immune system response to a substance which a pre-disposed person is sensitive to. The substance itself may not be harmful, but the reaction to it causes symptoms which can range from minor irritation to, in some cases, extreme disability and even death. These substances are referred to as “allergens”, and typical reactions include sneezing, wheezing, a runny nose, itchy eyes and ears, a tight chest, coughing, shortness of breath, and skin rashes.
Indoor air quality is often as much as 20 times more polluted than the air outside, making the home a key battleground in the control of allergies. Reducing allergen exposure in the home is essential to the successful management of an allergy.
Common sources of allergens in the home are the house dust mite, pets such as cats and dogs, household chemicals, plant pollen, mould spores and tobacco smoke.
- Regular vacuuming of floors, furniture, curtains and mattresses is important in reducing dust mite allergen, as this will help remove the food source of the dust mite, as well as their allergen. Thorough vacuuming will also help remove pollen. To be effective, a high filtration machine with good cleaning performance is required, and if the home has pets, then a machine with a rotating brush is essential to remove pet hair from carpets. SEBO make upright and cylinder vacuum cleaners which feature S-CLASS filtration and British Allergy Foundation Approval, and are also ideal for households with pets.
- Air quality can be greatly improved by keeping the home well ventilated by opening windows and by lowering the temperature slightly. House dust mites require moisture to survive, so reducing humidity is beneficial, as is airing beds and bed linen every day.
- Always use an electrostatic duster, or a dampened duster, as this will stop dust particles from becoming airborne.
- Use throws over fabric upholstered sofas, and wash them at 60C at least once a month.
- Children’s soft toys are also an ideal environment for dust mites and should also be washed regularly at 60C .
- Use anti-allergy bedding material.
- To inhibit mould, regularly check and clean bathrooms, kitchens, and windowsills. Try using white vinegar or borax for cleaning, instead of cleaning chemicals.
- Throw away aging fruit, as this will be a target for mould, and place pea-shingle on houseplant soil to stop mould spores from settling.