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Prevention

There are some simple strategies you can use to prevent allergies at home, work school, outside and when you travel.

  1. Dust to control mites. Dust mites are one of the most common allergens found in homes, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology. These microscopic creatures live in beds, carpets, pillows, and upholstered furniture, feeding on our dead skin cells. But it's their droppings that some people are allergic to. By dusting surfaces and washing bedding often, you can control the amount of dust mites in your home. Since getting rid of dust mites completely is difficult, it's best to put a barrier between you and them. Cover your mattress, box spring, comforter, and pillows with special allergy cases, which are woven in such a way that the dust-mite droppings can't get through.

  2. Vacuum often. Although cleaning can sometimes trigger allergic reactions, with dust in the air, vacuuming all floors, especially carpets, once or twice a week will reduce surface dust mites. Wear a mask when doing housework and consider leaving for a few hours after you clean to avoid allergens in the air. You can also opt for a vacuum that has an air filter to capture dust. HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air filter) vacuums trap particles and don't spew them back into the air. Also make sure your carpet cleaner contains tannic acid, a chemical that helps destroy dust mites.
  3. Reduce pet dander. If you have allergies, you should avoid pets with feathers or fur like birds, dogs and cats. Animal saliva and dead skin, or pet dander, can cause allergic reactions. Additionally, dogs and cats that frolic outdoors can collect pollen in their fur and transport it into your home. If you can't bear to part with your pet, at least keep it out of the bedroom. Especially during hay fever season, bathe your pet as frequently as possible or wipe him down when he comes in from the yard with a premoistened cloth, such as Simple Solution Allergy Relief from Pets.

  4. Protect against pollen. Experts estimate that 35 million Americans suffer from allergies because of airborne pollen, The number one anti-allergy move is to keep triggers at bay, so be sure to leave your windows and doors shut during pollen season. Run the air conditioner on the "recycle" setting, which filters indoor air, trapping any particles that did sneak inside. Also rinse or replace the filter every two weeks to remove dust and keep it running efficiently.

  5. Clear the air. Almost half of seasonal allergy sufferers are also bothered by irritants such as fragrances and cleaning products. To breathe easier, invest in a HEPA air purifier, which filters out aggravating indoor pollutants. A good pick: Honeywell HEPA Tower Air Purifier ($250; target.com).

  6. Rethink your bedtime routine. Hopping in the shower in the morning is one way to kick-start your day, but switching to a nighttime routine during the spring and summer can curb your symptoms. You'll wash away the allergens that stick to your hair and face, so they won't rub off on your pillow and irritate your eyes and nose. At the very least, gently clean your eyelids.

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