Symptoms such as sneezing, stuffy or runny nose, watery eyes and itchy nose, throat and eyes or roof of the mouth are common in children that suffer from respiratory allergies. If you’re looking for ways to help reduce your child’s exposure to allergens that hide within homes, one place you can start is in his or her bedroom.
Typical allergens include: dust mites, pet dander, pollen, mold and pests.
Dust Mites- Dr. David Stukus, associate professor of pediatrics in the division of allergy and immunology at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, offers these suggestions for reducing dust mites:
· Use zippered, dust mite-proof bed covers. These covers are made of materials with pores that are too small to let dust mites and their waste products through, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). They should cover the mattress, box spring, and all pillows on the bed.
· Wash bed linens at least once a week. This should be done using a hot water setting to kill and remove as many dust mites as possible, as well as the skin cells they feed on. The water should be at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit, according to the AAFA.
· Remove or treat stuffed animals. “Ideally, stuffed animals should be removed from the bed completely,” Stukus says. An alternative solution is to keep one favorite stuffed toy on the bed and put it in the freezer for 24 hours once a week, then put it through a dryer cycle to kill and remove dust mites.
· Remove carpets. Dust mites can thrive in carpeting. Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting and opt for hardwood floors or throw rugs instead. Just make sure to regularly wash or dry clean throw rugs, notes the American Academy of Allergy Asthma & Immunology. Dust mites can also hide in curtains, blinds, and upholstered furniture, according to the AAFA, so you may also want to avoid having these in your child’s room.
Pet Dander – Some breed may be touted as a “hypoallergenic dog or cat,” but Stukus says there is no such thing. Any animal can bring dander into the house. To keep dander out of your child’s room, try these steps:
· The first step is to keep pets out of your child’s bedroom. It’s not as easy as it sounds, especially when your child becomes attached to a family pet. “Any access to animals, even for limited periods of time, will increase the dander levels in the room,” Stukus says. Depending on how serious your child’s symptoms are, you may want to consider not having a pet.
· If you decide that having a pet is ok, Stukus suggests that you bathe your pet once or twice a week. “Families usually laugh when I suggest this,” Stukus says, but it’s an effective way to reduce dander.” Some pets can handle a bath that often, but others will develop skin conditions from excess cleaning. Discuss your pet’s breed and care with a veterinarian before trying this.
· Vacuum and dust the room at least weekly. This can help remove any dander that makes its way into the bedroom. The American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology recommends using a vacuum with a HEPA filter to reduce pet dander, as well as other allergens.
Pollen - One of the worse allergens is pollen. There’s no hiding from it but there are ways to help make the bedroom a “safe zone” when the pollen count is high.
· Keep the windows closed. It may be tempting to open the window when the weather is cool and the idea of a little breeze to air things out sounds appealing, but even short periods of an open window can let pollen into the room.
· Use air conditioning. This can help filter pollen out of the air and provide a comfortable room temperature when days and evenings are warm. When winter sets in, pollen is usually not a problem.
Mold- In the early 2000s, a toxic mold panic swept the nation. Today, a lot more is understood about the various types of mold. While mold can become a problem, it’s a common substance. “Mold is everywhere in our world, but it rarely poses a problem unless you have obvious overgrowth,” Stukus says. This is often visible in the form of large stains or black spots on drywall or other surfaces.
· If you notice mold in your child’s bedroom, treat the source of the moisture.
· Excess mold is almost always caused by an errant source of water, such as a leak from the outside or a pipe inside the house. In some cases, you may also need to remove and replace the mold-covered surface in the room.
Pests – Many people aren’t aware of how cockroaches (and even ladybugs) can cause a respiratory illness. If insects or other pests are a problem in your child’s bedroom:
· Keep food and drinks out of the bedroom. “Cockroaches generally congregate towards areas with water and food,” Stukus says, which is why they’re typically found in kitchens and bathrooms.
· Fix water leaks. If cockroaches or other pests are found in your child’s bedroom despite the absence of food and beverages, then you may have water leakage that needs to be fixed. This can be a problem in certain public and rental housing, he says.
If you need to contact your landlord about fixing a problem related to your child’s allergies, it’s a good idea to include as much documentation as possible, including a letter from an allergist, Stukus says.
Can children outgrow allergies? Sometimes. Respiratory allergies such as seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever) can fade over time or improve.
The first step in helping your child cope with allergies is to have him or her tested for allergens to find out what triggers a reaction. Your pediatrician or allergist will then be able to prescribe medications and or provide more information on other treatments or solutions.
Story source: Quinn Phillips, https://www.everydayhealth.com/hs/managing-respiratory-allergies-children/keep-bedroom-allergy-free/