One in five people in the United States have at least one type of allergy, including hay fever, food, drug, and latex allergies, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. Despite this high prevalence, there are a lot of myths and misconceptions about allergies floating around – including what, exactly, an allergy is. We've dug into the scientific literature and spoke with allergy experts Drs. Jeffrey Stokes and Marc Riedl to bring you the truth about allergies, and some general guidelines to follow if you've been diagnosed with them (or suspect you may have them).
Fortify your home.
There are various steps you can take to try to prevent allergic reactions in the home. For one thing, don't use humidifiers – and try to keep the humidity below 40 percent. "Too much humidity encourages mold growth and dust mite reproduction," says Stokes. Additionally, don't leave food out, as that can attract cockroaches (another common source of allergies), and frequently wash your bedding and fabrics (and stuffed animals) in hot water to kill dust mites.
Putting allergen covers on your pillows and mattress may help, but there isn't a lot of scientific data to back up this practice; the same thing goes with removing carpets and drapes, which are "reservoirs" for allergens. "It makes sense, but studies don't show that those isolated modifications to reduce dust mite reservoirs actually improve people's allergy symptoms," says Riedl. Unless you have severe allergies and are desperate for some relief, you may be better off saving your money.
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