What Are Allergies?
Allergies are one of the most common chronic conditions that affect millions around the world. According to Allergy UK, over 20% of the population suffers from one or more allergic reactions.
An allergic reaction occurs when your immune system recognizes a foreign substance as dangerous even when it isn’t. It then releases antibodies to fight the alien invaders and releases a compound called histamine.
When histamine release is due to an allergen, it results in inflammation in the skin, sinuses, digestive system, or airways.
Allergic reactions can range from mild discomfort to severe conditions like anaphylaxis. Common allergies include bees stings, pollen, pet fur, and dander. Common food allergies include nuts, soy, wheat, shellfish, and dairy.
Causes Of Bedroom Allergies
Millions around the world are allergic to their own home! Three out of four allergic reactions happen in the bedroom, where you spend a significant period sleeping and resting. Wheezing, sneezing, and general discomfort are no fun in a room that is supposed to be your safe place.
Here are the most prevalent causes of bedroom allergies.
Dust Mites - These microscopic bugs can cause big problems. They thrive in humid, warm environments and frequently live in bedding, feeding on our dead skin. Any mattress can contain up to 10 million dust mites!
Symptoms of a dust mite allergy include:
- Sneezing, wheezing, and coughing
- Nasal congestion or a “stuck” nose
- Constant runny nose
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Itchy nose, throat, or the roof of the mouth
- Postnasal drip
- Swelling in the face
- Clogged sinuses
Pet Fur and Dander - Pet dander is microscopic pieces of dead skin that our pets shed frequently. Both fur and dander are common triggers of allergies. In addition, their coats collect mold, pollen, and other outdoor allergens and bring them indoors. Some people are also allergic to the proteins found in the saliva and urine.
As many as 30% of allergy sufferers are allergic to their pets. Cat allergies are twice as common as dog allergies. An estimated 10% to 20% of the global population is allergic to pets.
Symptoms of a pet allergy are similar to the reactions to dust mites, as shown above.
Mold and Mildew - Mold and mildew are fungi that love bathrooms. It thrives in warm, damp environments.
The “seeds”, called spores, can travel long distances and cause allergic reactions. They spread more in dry, windy weather. The mold season starts in July and ends in early autumn.
Indoor mold commonly collects in the kitchen and bathrooms but can be anywhere near water. You might have a mold allergy if you notice more sneezing or nasal irritation near damp areas like bathrooms and basements.
Hay Fever - Also known as seasonal allergic rhinitis, hay fever is triggered by pollen from grass, trees, and plants. Hay fever can get worse from March to September when the weather is hot, and the winds pick up, helping the tiny pollen grains travel greater distances through the environment.
Grasses are the most common cause of hay fever. Some species of trees like cedar, oak, and birch, are known to produce highly allergenic pollen.
Cockroaches - These nasty little bugs lurk everywhere in a home. The saliva, feces, and body parts that roaches shed can trigger allergic reactions similar to a dust mite allergy.
How To Reduce Allergic Reactions In Bedrooms
Three out of four allergic reactions at home are triggered in the bedrooms. With more people spending more time at home than ever, keeping healthy indoor air quality is more crucial than ever. Here are some tips to reduce the risk of allergies in the bedroom.
Keep windows closed during the humid, warm months with high pollen count days. Windows are the main entry points for dust particles, mold spores, pollen, and other outdoor allergens.
Pollen activity is the highest in the early mornings. If you have to open your windows, try avoiding this time and open them in the mid-afternoon and evenings when humidity is lowest.
Use Hypoallergenic Bedding and Mattress
Dust mites and other creepy crawlies love to live in beds. They find their way into your nasal passages as you sleep and might trigger an allergic reaction in some folks.
Use a hypoallergenic bedding material like Tencel or bamboo with antibacterial properties to create an unwelcoming environment for dust mites and germs.
Tencel is a fabric known for incredible breathability and comfort. It comes from eucalyptus trees and is produced and harvested sustainably. Tencel has been used in medical dressings to prevent germs and bacteria from surviving.
Using Tencel or other hypoallergenic fabrics as bedding material will reduce the potential of dust mites. Wash your bedding frequently to maintain a clean environment.
Bonus Tip: Check out our handy guide on how to pick your perfect bedding here.
In addition to bedding, consider a hypoallergenic mattress made from latex. Latex is a naturally antimicrobial material that repels dust mites.
Use An Air Purifier
Air purifiers help reduce stale air and eliminates several types of indoor allergens. Air purifiers with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter can remove 99.7% of particles circulating in your home or bedroom.
The Air Change Per Hour (ACH) rating refers to the number of times all the air in the room gets filtered hourly. A higher ACH rating will indicate a more efficient air purifier. Folks with allergies should get purifiers with a 4x or 5x ACH rating, reducing the number of allergens in the room.
Lower The Humidity
Humid environments make it easier for mold and mildew to thrive. A hygrometer can measure the humidity in the air. Keep the humidity below 40% as fungi love environments above 50%.
Some humidifiers and dehumidifiers have built-in hygrometers that can automatically adjust the humidity levels to maintain the desired moisture level in the air.
Keep Your Bedroom Clean
Regularly vacuuming will cut down on the dust and other allergens present. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter, and wipe all exposed surfaces down frequently.
You can make an excellent natural cleaning solution with baking soda, vinegar, lemon, and water. Mix one part water, one part vinegar, and add a small amount of baking soda and lemon juice into a spray bottle to wipe down countertops and tables.
Change your bedding at least once a week and wash at high temperatures to remove any trace allergens. Wipe down the mattress with a damp cloth and the homemade cleaning solution.
Declutter Your Bedroom
Donate anything unwanted books, magazines, and clothes to a charity or shelter. The less you have in your bedroom, the less surface dust will get to settle on.
Avoid using heavy drapes, carpets, and rugs. They are dust traps and can be the primary source of hiding allergens.
A minimalistic room will also be easier to clean. Cleaning around piles of clothes and books left on the floor is not recommended!
Get Indoor House Plants
Not only are houseplants aesthetically pleasing, but NASA also proved them able to improve indoor air quality in a 1989 Clean Air Study. The study showed that an ideal number of 10 houseplants should be used in a 4m x 5m room. However, even a single houseplant improved air quality by 25%.
Houseplants for allergy sufferers do not produce any pollen to exacerbate the problem. As a bonus, some of these plants also can remove potentially dangerous chemicals like formaldehyde from the room.
NASA recommends the following plants:
- Peace lilies
- Golden pothos
- Gerbera daisies
- Areca palm
- Lady palm
- Bamboo palm
Fight Against Mold and Mildew
Preventing a buildup of mold can help allergy sufferers. Mold collects in damp places like bathrooms and can trigger a reaction.
When showering, use an exhaust fan or open the windows. Check any rugs or carpeting for moisture and keep all textiles dry.
Scrub sinks, toilets, and any furniture regularly to remove any mold, in addition to in between tiles where mold can hide. Any plumbing leaks should be quickly repaired, and the bathroom kept dry.
Check the windows regularly for condensation and dry off any water droplets that might be present.
Improve airflow in the bathroom and bedroom to keep mold at bay.
Keep Your Pet Out Of The Bedroom
Hard as it might be, Fido sleeping on the bed might be a source of allergies. Even if you aren’t allergic to pet dander or have a hypoallergenic breed of dog, the coats of dogs and cats contain many outdoor allergens they pick up and bring into the bedroom.
If you really must sleep with your dog or cat, have them sleep on their beds on the floor instead of your bed. Regularly vacuum their beds and bedding or machine wash if possible to keep out particles.
Bonus Tip: Wash pet bedding at high temperatures.
Despite your best efforts, sometimes it just isn’t enough. Over-the-counter medications like Allegra and Zyrtec are readily available to allergy sufferers. When in doubt, always consult a medical professional.
We hope that some of these tips help alleviate your symptoms and allow you a better night’s sleep. Good luck!