Thursday, March 29, 2012

14 days to a sneeze free home: Pollen, cleaning, and allergies

Have you been sneezing your way through spring?  Have you awakened each morning to thick, yellow blankets of pollen?  For some, spring is allergy season, just as fall's ragweed period is the time others sniffle.

Because the winter of 2011/2012 was so mild, spring of 2012 has already
seen early high pollen counts. Here in Nashville, we've had blooming trees and green grass for many weeks now.

Here's what's happening with pollen in the Nashville area today

Tree pollen count for 03/29/12:
Very High
Most active tree pollen types:
  • Cedar
  • Maple
  • Pine
I can feel the high counts in stuffy sinuses and achy joints.

According to an article on
An allergy is a heightened sensitivity to a foreign substance (called an allergen) that causes the body's defense system (the immune system) to overreact when defending itself.
Normally, the immune system would only react if a harmful substance, such as bacteria, attacks the body. For people with allergies, their immune system is working too hard, and it reacts even when relatively harmless substances, such as pollen, are present. The severity of an allergic reaction can vary from mild discomfort to life threatening situations.
Allergens can stimulate an immune response when you breathe in or touch the allergen, or by ingestion of food or beverage, or from injections of medication.
Common allergic reactions include eczema, hives, hay fever, asthma, food allergies, pet dander allergies, and reactions to the venom of stinging insects, such as wasps and bees.
 One of the best ways to deal with pollen is to give your house and other surroundings, such as a car or office, extra cleaning attention. Unfortunately, if you are suffering an allergic reaction, this may be the time when you least feel like exerting yourself to clean.  However, if you can push through without further endangering your health, it's worth the effort.   
Remember, it's not always the pollen that you can visibly see that causes allergies, though it can be. However, we want to clean away visible pollen, as it can build up in unsightly layers and attract dust and smaller pollens that could be your true allergy triggers.  In the process of cleaning, we hope that we will clean away even the tiniest of particles. 

So, despite the fact that my next 15 days are packed to the gills with activities, I'm embarking on a plan to create a more allergen free environment.  If you'd like to follow along, just take the steps each day that I do.  Otherwise, create your own cleaning plan.
Here are my goals for Day I:
1)  Brush the dog thoroughly.  House pets who go outside for short breaks or in- and- outdoor pets track in allergens.  
2)  Brush hair or wash it thoroughly.   Human hair attracts dust and pollen and allergens, just as pet hair can.  A good idea when cleaning is to cover your hair with a cloth or scarf to prevent it from collecting dust.  It's also wise to keep hair clean and neatly brushed.  Too much brushing can be harmful to the hair, so don't overdo.  Just clean it out.
3) Wash brushes and combs.
4)  15 minutes de-junking.  Junk, clutter, even valuable objects that you don't want or use anymore all collect dust, pollen, and allergens.
5)  Wipe windshield of car and mirrors to make sure that they are free of pollen buildup.  Pollen buildup on the glass surfaces of your car can interfere with your driving vision.
Bonus:  Dry wipe the walls and ceilings of your bedroom, along with any ceiling fans.  You can even use a long swiffer pole and a swiffer dust cloth for this.   
Any other cleaning you have already accomplished or planned for the day.    



Melissa from the Blue House said...

Thanks for this. I'm sick and tired of allergies and not being able to breathe at night!

Elizabeth said...

You and me, too, Melissa!