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Cleaning allergies?

Daniel Martins
Digital Reporter

Friday, May 12, 2017, 6:00 AM - It’s not easy to hide from your allergies. And when you finally bite the bullet and start your annual spring cleaning, you’ll be literally inviting allergens into your home.

People with dust mite allergies will have what is usually a perennial allergy take on a seasonal aspect, as the simple act of cleaning will stir up a lot of the offending particles. That’s not to mention just opening up your windows will let in the usual slew of pollen from outdoors.

“While it’s great to get the fresh air in … it also means that tree pollen can get into the home, as well as, now that we’re into May, grass pollen,” Dr. Anne K. Ellis, an associate professor at Queen's University School of Medicine, told The Weather Network.

But Ellis, who serves as the director of Director of the Allergy Research Unit of Kingston General Hospital, says the would-be spring cleaner has plenty of options, both practical and pharmaceutical, to cope with the stirred-up allergens.

Some are simple: Just wearing a mask while cleaning, while a bit uncomfortable, will minimize actual inhalation of allergens. One further step: Using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter, which keeps vacuumed particles inside the vacuum cleaner, rather than simply spreading them around. Similar filters exist for household furnaces, cutting particles even further.

“All these things are helpful, but you know, don’t despair if it’s not enough,” Ellis says. “There are good treatments out there for allergies that don't necessarily involve prescription medication, but are still highly effective in terms of immunotherapy.”

Ellis says there are readily available over-the-counter medications that won’t make you drowsy and are relatively inexpensive (she recommends taking one an hour before you start cleaning).

If that’s not enough, Ellis says sufferers who’ve noticed a link between allergy symptoms and the onset of the spring allergy season should talk to their doctor, and seeking referral to an allergist, or even just first-line prescription therapies.

“There are new, very effective immunotherapies that are definite treatments of allergies that can produce a lifelong change in your immune system,” Ellis says.

Ellis stresses that so many people think struggling with their allergies is the norm, when in fact there are plenty of treatments that can be effective, year round.

“Don’t be afraid to ask your physician for a referral. Find an allergist, and find relief,” she says.

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