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Fighting Allergies from the Inside
The AAAAI offers tips to indoor allergy sufferers

MILWAUKEE - With the decrease in temperature and arrival of winter weather, you may be more than happy to stay indoors. However, for people who suffer from indoor allergies, staying indoors may make them just as miserable as the cold weather.

Allergies affect between 40 and 50 million people in the United States, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). While seasonal allergies may come and go, perennial, or year-round, allergy sufferers deal with stuffy or runny noses, itchy eyes, sneezing, and wheezing 365 days a year.

Indoor allergies are the body's physical reactions to inhaled airborne particles called allergens. These indoor allergens usually include house dust mite droppings, animal dander, cockroach droppings and indoor mold.

"It's impossible to completely eliminate all the things that might trigger your allergies, but taking steps to delay your exposure to certain allergens may help," said Jonathan Bernstein, MD, AAAAI fellow and member of the Indoor Allergen Committee.

To help reduce the risk for developing perennial allergic rhinitis, the AAAAI recommends you take the following steps to reduce the levels of allergens in your home:

Dust Mites:

  • Use zippered, plastic covers on pillows and mattresses to reduce the presence of dust mites

  • Minimize the number of stuffed animals kept in bedrooms

  • Remove carpet from the bedroom, if possible; if not, vacuum once or twice a week

  • Wash bedding and stuffed animals in hot water (130F) weekly

  • Keep indoor relative humidity below 50% to decrease dust mite growth

Indoor Mold:

  • Avoid activities or locations where mold grows, for example, damp basements, garages, jumping in fallen leaves or hiking in deep woods

  • Fix leaky faucets and pipes

  • Avoid vaporizers

Cockroach allergens:

  • Remove all food sources and household food wastes. Food should be stored in sealed containers

  • Consider a professional exterminator

  • Improve ventilation to eliminate damp areas

  • Thorough and frequent cleaning to remove dust and cockroach byproducts


  • Consider removing pet from the home

  • Keep the pet out of the bedroom

  • Frequently vacuum rooms where the pet lives

  • Wash the pet weekly to decrease the amount of dander, urine and dried saliva

See an allergist/immunologist
"Since allergies can lead to other chronic conditions such as asthma, they should not be taken lightly," Bernstein said. "When you learn what causes your indoor allergies, you can take steps to make them easier to live with."

An allergist/immunologist will take a thorough history and perform allergy tests to determine which indoor allergens provoke your symptoms. Your allergist/immunologist may prescribe appropriate medications, such as antihistamines, decongestants or asthma medication and allergy vaccine therapy.

To find an allergist/immunologist in your area or to learn more about allergies and asthma, call the AAAAI's Physician Referral and Information Line at 1-800-822-2762 or visit the AAAAI Web site at

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology is the largest professional medical specialty organization in the United States, representing allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals, and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic disease. Established in 1943, the Academy has nearly 6,000 members in the United States, Canada and 60 other countries.


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Last modified: January 15, 2004