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Indoor Allergies: Causes and Solutions

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Indoor allergies are extremely common and have been increasing steadily for decades. Allergies that occur indoors are also called perennial allergies, because they tend to occur year round. They are not dependent on seasonal increases in allergens such as during the spring or fall when trees/flowers pollinate. There are a number of various sources of indoor allergens, and knowing these will make your symptoms easier to prevent.

General Causes

tighly sealed homes contribute to allergies Over the last 50 years, homes have become increasingly air tight in an attempt to save on electric costs. By preventing cool air from escaping in the summer, and warm air from escaping in the winter, one can significantly lower the cost of energy spent on heating and cooling. However, an air tight home comes with an unexpected consequence: Increased allergies.

Allergies increase indoors because the airborne allergens continue to recalculate without being ventilated or removed. HVAC filters are often not fine enough to filter out the smallest airborne particles that can cause indoor allergies.

Specific Causes

Dust Allergies: The number one cause of allergies indoors is accumulation of dust. Dust has many sources in the home. The top source being ourselves. Most dust particles are made up of dead skin cells that are come from humans and their pets. Because there is no natural way of removing these skin cells from the air, or other surfaces, they accumulate over time.

For more infomation on how to treat dust allergies, see our Dust Allergy page.

Dust also includes fibers from upholstery and clothing, as well as allergens from dust mites, cockroaches and other bugs living within the home. Pet dander is another common cause of dust accumulation, and is an allergy that can stand on its own from the dust allergens that it is a part of.

Pet Allergies: Pet dander allergies are the next most common cause of allergies indoors. Although millions of people are allergic to their pets, most would not consider getting rid of them in order to cure their allergies. Therefore, knowing how to alleviate the allergies that your pet causes is required in order to live in close proximity with them.

For more information, see our page on Pet Allergies.

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Chemical Sensitivity: Although mostly unrecognized until the last 20 years, chemical allergies and chemical sensitivity have be increasing in severity for the last century. Unlike just 100 years ago, people now live in extremely close proximity with hundreds of types of chemicals, as well as use them on a daily or weekly basis in their homes. Harsh and toxic chemicals are contained within most home building materials. These chemicals can off gas for months or years after a new home is constructed. Carpet or upholstery contains many types of synthetic fibers and unnatural compounds. Even your hand soap, body wash, or shampoo can contain chemicals which are intended to clean, but can act irritants if overused. Over time, a minor irrigation to products in your home can become a major allergy. many people are sensitive to cleaning product chemicals

In severe cases, one can develop multiple chemical sensitivity which requires complete isolation from all types of chemicals.

Treatment

Treatment varies depending on the type of indoor allergy. See our general Allergy Treatments page for general treatments that are applicable to many types of indoor allergies. Or see the relevant page for your specific concern for detailed treatment suggestions.