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Pollen and Mold Levels

Pollen counts are updated daily from February 15 to November 15.

Last Updated:

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Posted on: August 24, 2020

Did you know there are steps you can take to reduce allergens in your own home? Live more comfortably by taking the steps below to reduce mold, dust, pollen, or other allergies from your home.

What Are Allergens?

An allergen is anything that triggers an allergic reaction. The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) defines an allergy as “a chronic condition involving an
abnormal reaction to an ordinary harmless substance called an allergen.” The most common allergens are food, pollen, mold and dust mites. If you have a food allergy, you might be allergic to the proteins found in foods like fish, nuts, wheat, soy, eggs and milk. With a pollen allergy, perhaps only grass or tree weed pollens trigger your allergic reaction.

Allergies can begin at any time in a person’s life, from childhood to adulthood and all the years in between. The development of allergies starts in a person’s immune system. The immune
system views the allergen as a foreign invader and works to drive it out. This can lead to allergy symptoms like eye tearing, a runny nose, congestion, sneezing, coughing and itchy eyes,
throat, mouth and nose. Food allergies often have different symptoms. These include hives, respiratory issues, diarrhea, vomiting and more. There’s also a risk of anaphylaxis, a serious allergy side effect that requires immediate treatment, as it can be fatal.

Removing Mold from Your Home

What Is Mold?

Mold is a type of fungus, with more than 1,000 United States species according to the American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (ACAAI). Not all mold is easily spotted. The spores can become airborne, being inhaled by you and other family members without anyone realizing it. While it’s dangerous to have mold in the home, if you have a mold allergy, it becomes even worse. The AAAAI says it’s possible to develop asthma as well from too much mold. With a mold allergy, you might have symptoms like an itchy throat, wheezing and coughing, sore eyes, sneezing and a runny nose. You may also experience nasal congestion.

Where does Mold Come From?

Mold is a naturally-occurring fungus that can grow both inside and outside. It’s not limited to homes and can develop on any building or surface in which there’s the right conditions. Mold likes to grow in wet and warm environments. If you have poor air quality at home or leave food lying around, mold is also likely to grow.

Tips for Removing Mold

If you have mold around the home, the best way to control your allergies to this fungus is by removing it. Here are our best mold removal and management tips:

  1. Go through your house and search for any porous materials and items. These can include old clothes, newspapers and dingy rags. Be sure to dispose of them immediately, as mold will grow on these surfaces.
  2. If you have old wallpapering in any rooms, it might be time for a replacement. Under the layers of paper, unseen mold could be growing and thriving. When repainting the walls, be sure to use mold-resistant paint. Tile is another option that’s essentially mold-proof.
  3. Limit how many indoor plants you have around the house. Your plant’s soil can be an ideal breeding ground for mold. If you have plants in the bedroom or living room, try removing or moving them somewhere else. Your allergy symptoms might improve.
  4. If you’re washing clothes in a washer, never leave the clothes sitting overnight. Mold could develop. Immediately move them to the dryer.
  5. Watch the temperature around your house. The warmer it is, the higher the chances you could have mold and dust mites. Stick to a range of 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
  6. If you own a humidifier or a dehumidifier, never skip cleaning it. Even going more than a week between cleanings is too much. A dehumidifier can be quite helpful in reducing humidity in the air. That controls mold development an air conditioning setting of 70 degrees or lower retards mold growth.
  7. Invest in anti-mold products and use these in your bathroom. Be sure to target the bathroom tiles and shower curtains especially. When you and other family members shower or use the tub, don’t just dry yourself off. Dry the tub, too. Also, watch your shower curtains. When these get moldy, change them out or wash with bleach and dry thoroughly.
  8. Get into a daily habit of cleaning your refrigerator and sink. This will clear food debris and inhibit mold growth.
  9. Consider investing in a vented exhaust fan above your stove if you don’t already have one. This keeps fumes and moisture to a minimum in your kitchen.
  10. Finally, always shower after going outside. Wash your clothes right away if you can. This will prevent mold and pollen spores from sticking to your clothes.

Removing Dust from Your Home

What Is Dust?

Dust includes tiny particles that can accumulate with time. It attracts dust mites, which are naturally-occurring organisms that can rarely been seen. If you have an allergy to dust mites, then combating and controlling dust is especially important. Dust mites prefer a dark, warm and humid climate. They feed on shed human skin so will be found in high numbers in upholstered furniture, carpets, mattresses and pillows. The ACAAI says many people get dust mite allergies, so you are far from alone if you’re in the same camp.

Unfortunately, since dust can be present anywhere, anytime, these allergies don’t abate from season to season. Also bad is that conditions like eczema and asthma can get worse if you have a dust mite allergy. Dust mite are not the only allergic trigger in dust. Feathers, fur or pet dander can also lead to symptoms, as can pollen, mold and cockroaches. If you have an allergy to dust, you’ll experience itchiness, shortness of breath, chest tightening, coughing and wheezing and itchy, red eyes. You may also have a stuffy or runny nose as well as sneezing.

Where Does Dust Come From?

Dust can form from pollution, volcanic eruptions, wind or soil. Depending on where it comes from, the small particles can be comprised of tiny meteorite pieces, human skin cells, outdoor soil minerals, paper fibers, textile fibers, animal and plant pollen. While dust can linger around many surfaces, we people rarely notice until an accumulate develops. Dust is often grayish when enough builds up. By leaving surfaces untouched and uncleaned, dust will gather and spread.

Tips for Removing Dust

Being diligent about removing dust isn’t the easiest job, but if you’re someone with a dust mite allergy, it’s worth it. Here are some of our top tips:

  1. Like you would with mold, don’t hold onto any old clothing, newspapers or rags. The porosity of these items makes them natural attractants to dust mites. Go through your house and throw out or donate what you don’t need. You can now clean faster and easier since there are fewer surfaces for dust to settle and accumulate.
  2. If you’re the one who does the vacuuming and household cleaning, always use gloves and a mask. Cleaning will disrupt dust, kicking it up. If you breathe it in, you could have an allergy attack.
  3. Consider investing in washable curtains or window shades instead of having long drapes or blinds around the home.
  4. Keep the temperature at the recommended range we mentioned in the last section, 68 degrees.
  5. If you have upholstered chairs and sofas, you might want to consider getting new furniture. Plastic, metal, wood and leather furniture will resist dust mites better.
  6. Use a HEPA filter on your vacuum cleaner as well. Make sure you or someone else in the house vacuums the home every week.
  7. Get mattress and pillow covers that are dust mite-resistant.

Removing Pollen from Your Home

What Is Pollen?

Pollen is a type of powder, often yellow in color. It is light and is able to be carried long distances by the wind. Animals, insects, and birds will also help to carry it across plants and flowers. This is a good thing, as pollen it is a part of plant reproduction. Well, it’s a good thing unless you have allergies.

One of the most widespread allergens, pollen is responsible for the allergies of millions and millions of people in America, especially when pollen counts are high. As we mentioned earlier,
there’s weed, grass and tree pollens. You could be allergic to just one or even all three.

If you do have pollen allergies, you may have symptoms like wheezing, itchy eyes and throat, watery eyes, a runny nose, congestion and sneezing. According to the ACAAI, asthma can be exacerbated by pollen allergies. If you’re wheezing and coughing more than usual, it may be due to a pollen allergy.

Where Does Pollen Come From?

Pollen is the male fertilizing agent of flowers, plants, trees, grass and weeds. Plants and flowers are likely to have lots of pollen that was deposited there by animals and the wind, specially on dry days. That doesn’t mean you can’t bring pollen inside. If this powder settles on your skin, hair or clothing, you’ll track the allergen indoors. Symptoms can continue until you hang your clothes or shower. Pollen from bright flowers is usually sticky and is designed to be carried by insects so is not found in high amounts floating in the air.

Tips for Removing Pollen

A pollen allergy might be incredibly common, but it should still be taken seriously. Here’s how to control pollen in and around your home:

  1. Limit outdoor exposure during times of high pollen counts.
  2. Get an air filter and use a HEPA filter. At the end of each month, change the filter out.
  3. Take a shower after spending time in the outdoors. Don’t forget to wash your hair!
  4. You should also immediately get changed after being outside. Wash those clothes right away.
  5. Don’t forget to wash your hands right when getting inside, too. If pollen is on your hands and you rub it on your face or other areas of your skin, you’ll begin exhibiting symptoms.
  6. Use doormats for every entrance door you have. This makes it a little harder for pollen to get inside from your shoes. Never wear your shoes inside. If that’s too difficult, then only put them on and take them off in the entryway.
  7. Don’t open windows, as pollen can get in.
  8. Check the pollen counts every day and plan when you can leave the house. CAAC posts a daily pollen count on our website.
  9. There are certain hours where pollen is typically worse, usually in the morning, so avoid going out then if you can.

Other Tips for Removing Allergies

In addition to the tips we’ve suggested, you should try these methods for removing allergens:

  1. Keep a clean home. Whether you’re allergic to dust mites or pet dander, a clean, almost spotless home will be less likely to cause allergy symptoms.
  2. Make sure your pet is clean, too. Bathe them weekly if you don’t do so already. If you’re allergic to pet dander, then let someone else in the house take care of this job.
  3. Someone else in the home should also brush your pet weekly. Always do this outside so their fur doesn’t float around the house and worsen your allergy symptoms. If it’s a dander allergy you have, then you should keep your pet out of the bedroom and off the living room couch, if possible. Move your pet’s bed and toys in a room you’re not in as much.
  4. Know your food allergy triggers. Avoid those foods. Make sure you always read the ingredients lists carefully on packaging. When you go out to eat, don’t be afraid to ask your server about the ingredients in any dishes you want to try.
  5. Don’t leave your sheets on for too long. Weekly, you should wash them on the hot setting. Dry them on the hot cycle as well.
  6. Avoid raking and mowing the lawn if you’re allergic to mold and pollen. These activities will more than likely kick start your symptoms.
  7. When washing your clothes, never let them line-dry. If you do so outdoors, you could attract allergens like pollen. Indoor allergens like pet dander, dust mites and mold can get on soaking wet clothes that are line-drying inside. Always use a dryer.
  8. Learn to love the rain. It can significantly lower pollen counts!

Detect the Allergens That Are Making You Sick

If you’re having allergies out of the blue, this can be a very confusing time. You may be struggling to understand why your allergies appeared when a month or so ago you were fine.
Suffering with allergies, especially severe ones, can degrade your quality of life. If you’re sick all the time but you don’t know why, we recommend you contact an allergist and schedule an
appointment.

At Carolina Asthma & Allergy Center, we have more than 50 years of expertise diagnosing and managing allergy symptoms. Those in the Charlotte area and beyond trust us with their asthma, insect allergies, drug allergies, food allergies and so much more. Whether you need allergy testing, an official diagnosis or a management/treatment plan, we can help. Schedule an appointment today.

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