It's (almost) autumn. Soon we'll be closing our doors and windows to keep winter cold outside.
For people with asthma and allergies, this is the time to evaluate homes to reduce their exposure to "triggers", which can set off a reaction in the lungs. Here are the common allergens and ways to reduce them:
Dust mites: One of the most difficult triggers to control, microscopic dust mites like warm, humid places like mattresses, pillows, carpeting, furniture, and stuffed animals.
* Place allergen-impermeable covers on mattresses and pillows. Wipe them off with a damp cloth each time you change bedding.
* Wash bedding in hot water once a week. Or, to protect colors, place bedding in a hot dryer first, then wash in cool or warm water.
* Don't keep upholstered furniture or carpeting in the bedroom. Dust hard floors with a damp mop.
* Get rid of the stuffed animals, and invest in a dehumidifier.
Pets: You can't completely eliminate animal allergens, but, like dust mites, there are ways to reduce their effect:
* Keep them out of the bedroom and off of the furniture.
* Vacuum or mop floors frequently.
* Let your dog or cat stay outside as much as possible and bathe your pet regularly.
* Use a high-efficiency air filter.
Molds: They form on showers and tubs, in basements and attics, and anywhere there is humidity.
* Use a dehumidifier to keep levels below 50 percent.
* Clean mold with a fungicide cleaning product and ventilate areas where they form quite often.
* Get rid of carpets and upholstered furniture in the basement.
Your doctor can help you learn which triggers are a problem for you.