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Is your bedroom making you sick? What to know about indoor allergens

With the spring season just around the corner, now is the time to begin allergy-proofing your home, and the bedroom is a great place to start.

Studies have shown that a large portion of American homes test positive for such indoor allergens as dust, mold or pet dander, and it’s quite common for these allergens to appear in the bedroom.

Dust mites are the most common indoor allergen. In order to help curb dust mites, hypoallergenic covers for beds, mattresses, box springs and pillows are recommended. It’s also important to use bedding that is washable, rather than quilts, throws, or comforters that are normally sent out for dry cleaning. Wash your bedding weekly in hot water to kill dust mites.

Kids and pets

Children’s rooms are important, too. Many children like to pile stuffed animals on their beds, but dust mites love to hide on them. Try to limit stuffed animals to one or two in the bedroom, and make sure they’re washable.

Unfortunately, our four-legged family members can also wreak havoc on our allergies. As for pet dander, it’s especially important to keep pets out of the bedroom and out of your bed if you suffer from environmental allergies. Even if you are not allergic to pet dander specifically, pets carry other allergens via their fur, which can present a problem.

Carpets, curtains and clothing

Keeping carpets and thick curtains at a minimum in the bedroom can also significantly reduce allergy-inducing triggers. Carpet is a great place for allergens to collect, and floors such as hardwood or laminate are easier to keep clean and allergy-free.

Use of an air filter in the bedroom, such as one with a high-efficiency particulate absorption (HEPA) filter, can also help. This does not purify the air, but rather helps to reduce common airborne allergens.

During the heavy pollen season, you may wish to undress in another room and take a shower before bedtime. Pollen easily collects on clothing, and undressing in the bedroom can mean that you’re bringing pollen in to the room with you.

When it’s time to see a professional

If these tricks don’t alleviate your sneezing, coughing and itching, it may be time to speak with a health care provider. Family physicians or specialists such as allergists and immunologists are great starting points.

Sara Tyson, PA-C, allergy & immunology, sleep medicine, Mount Nittany Physician Group.