Allergies Hayfever Indoor

Indoor hay fever is caused by an allergic response to airborne substances found indoors. During an allergic reaction, the body makes the mistake of thinking a harmless substance is a foreign invader and tries to attack it. Also called allergic rhinitis, hay fever symptoms include:

  • bloodshot, itchy or watery eyes
  • coughing
  • itchy nose or roof of mouth
  • facial pain and sinus pressure
  • minimized sense of smell and taste
  • nasal congestion and runny nose
  • scratchy, swollen throat
  • sneezing
  • swelling and bluish skin under eyes
  • wheezing or chest tightness.

Understanding Indoor Hay Fever

Unlike outdoor hay fever, which is often seasonal, indoor hay fever can cause symptoms all year round. Since the allergens are substances found in the home and other buildings, it does not matter whether certain plants are in bloom for allergies to act up. Indoor allergens may also bring on or aggravate asthma symptoms. Here are some common triggers for indoor hay fever:

  • cockroaches
  • dander from pets
  • dust
  • dust mites
  • mold spores.

Both summer and winter can be rough times for those who suffer from indoor allergies. Dust mites are at their peak during the summer months. During the winter, however, many irritating allergens are trapped in the house because the windows are closed for weeks on end.

Indoor Hay Fever Risk Factors

No one knows the exact cause of hay fever, and experts believe that both environmental and genetic factors are involved. Some risk factors for developing hay fever include:

  • being a firstborn child
  • birth during mold or pollen season
  • dust mite exposure
  • exposure to tobacco smoke during first year of life
  • family history of allergies
  • male gender (although both males and females can have hay fever).

Preventing Allergy Symptoms

One of the best ways to relieve the symptoms of indoor hay fever is to minimize your exposure to allergens. Here are some tips for preventing indoor hay fever symptoms:

For allergies to cockroaches:

  • Empty the garbage pail daily and wash dishes frequently.
  • Keep floors and countertops free of crumbs.
  • Repair leaks in faucets and pipes.
  • Seal cracks and other openings where cockroaches can get into your home.
  • Store all food in sealed containers.
  • When all else fails, consider professional extermination services.

For dust mite allergies:

  • Reduce indoor humidity with an air conditioner or dehumidifier.
  • Replace carpet with hardwood floors.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter and vacuum at least weekly.
  • Wash bedding in hot water (at least 130 degrees F) and cover in allergy-proof covers.

For pet dander allergies:

  • If you are severely allergic to your pet, consider finding her another loving home.
  • If you love your pet too much to part with her, keep her out of your bedroom and bathe her weekly. You can also buy special wipes designed to reduce her dander.

For indoor mold allergies:

  • Clean bathrooms and other areas where mold grows frequently. Replace moldy shower curtains. Visible mold on bathroom surfaces can be cleaned with a bleach solution.
  • Lower humidity with air conditioner or dehumidifier.
  • Install a HEPA filter in your bedroom and allergy-grade filter in your ventilation system.

Relieving Allergy Symptoms

When prevention is not enough, many treatments are available to relieve your indoor hay fever symptoms. You can try over the counter remedies or get a prescription from your doctor if you need something stronger. Here are some of the ways indoor hay fever can be treated:

  • allergy eye drops
  • antihistamines
  • decongestants
  • cromolyn sodium
  • immunotherapy (allergy shots)
  • leukotriene modifiers
  • nasal atropine
  • nasal lavage (saline nasal rinse)
  • nasal corticosteroid sprays
  • oral corticosteroids.

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2008). Hay fever. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from the Mayo Clinic Web site http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/hay-fever/DS00174.

WebMD, Inc. (2009). Indoor Allergens. Retrieved March 16, 2009, from the eMedicineHealth Web site http://www.emedicinehealth.com/indoor_allergens/article_em.htm.