Indoor Allergens | Dust Mite, Mold, Pet Allergy

St. Louis Allergy Clinic Treating Dust Mite, Mold, and Pet Allergies

If you experience household allergies to dust mites, pets, pollen, or mold, a St. Louis allergist doctor may be able to give you relief. Many people tolerate discomfort for years, unaware there may be an allergy treatment in St. Louis available for relief. A single visit to our St. Louis allergy and asthma clinic may give you immediate relief, or the allergy doctor in St. Louis may prescribe ongoing allergy treatment.

St. Louis Allergy Treatment for Dust Mites

Dust mites are known by their scientific name Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus. Although we
cannot see them because of their microscopic size, we all have literally millions of them in the
cloth and porous surfaces in our homes, such as pillows, mattresses, carpets, upholstered
furniture, and stuffed animals. They eat shed scales from human skin (each of us produces over
a gram per day), but they are not picky eaters. They also love animal dander and feather/down
pillows. The average mattress contains over two million dust mites. Our bedroom
is responsible for over 90% of our exposure to household dust mites, a common reason to seek allergy help in St. Louis.

It is nearly impossible to completely exterminate dust mites, but there are a number of highly
effective things we can do to reduce our exposure, especially in our bedrooms:

  1. Encase pillows, mattresses, and box springs in allergen-impermeable encasings. Vinyl covers are available for the mattress pad and sheet. Encase the mattress immediately upon purchase; it only takes a few months for dust mites to accumulate.
  2. Encase the pillow with an allergen-impermeable or “dust mite-proof” encasing. Soft, cloth-like encasings are available at bed and bath stores and local discounts stores for people who suffer from allergies in St. Louis.
  3. Wash all the bedding including sheets, pillow cases, mattress pads and comforters regularly (every 1 to 2 weeks).
  4. Minimize dust collectors in the bedroom and on the beds, such as heavy drapes, throw pillows, stuffed animals, piles of books or magazines, and dust ruffles.
  5. Wear a dust mask when you vacuum or dust. Consider a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
  6. Keep humidity in the ideal range, 40 to 50%. Do not use room humidifiers or vaporizers as these can over-humidify the air and increase dust mites.
  7. Non-porous flooring such as hardwood, wood laminate, tile, or linoleum are preferable to carpet.

St. Louis Allergy Treatment for Pet Allergies

Household pets are a major problem for many allergy sufferers, and many people seek pet allergy help in St. Louis. Pets–not only dogs and cats, but also rodents, rabbits, and birds–are often the major allergen driving a patient’s year-round allergy symptoms that lead patients to our St. Louis allergy and asthma clinic. In addition, pets can “prime” a person’s allergies, making their St. Louis spring or fall pollen season worse than it would have been otherwise.

It is important to remember that there is no such thing as a “hypoallergenic” or non-allergenic
dog or cat. Most animal allergen comes from the dander, the skin flakes, of the pet, not the hair
or fur. So, a short haired cat or dog can be just as bad as a long-haired one. And an allergy
sufferer may not notice “problems when I’m around my cat,” because the allergen exposure is
constant, even on his or her clothes at work or school. In other words, some people seeking allergy treatment in St. Louis may be unaware it is their own pet that is causing the symptoms.

Minimizing exposure to animal allergen is key to the person allergic to animals. Our St. Louis allergy doctors recommend the following:

  1. The treatment of choice for animal allergy is to not have an animal. This could mean finding a new home for the pet or refraining from replacing the pet after its death.
  2. Keeping the pet outdoors is the next best thing to suggestion 1.
  3. Never allow the pet into the bedroom of the allergic individual. If you have more than one story in your house or condo, let gravity work for you by keeping the pet off of the floor where the bedroom is.
  4. Do all of the suggestions listed above under “house dust allergy”.
  5. Keep the bedroom door closed to keep the pet out, but also to keep pet dander from drifting into the bedroom.
  6. Bathe the pet regularly, preferably every week, to wash away dander that would otherwise become airborne.
  7. Consider use of a HEPA filter in the bedroom to reduce airborne animal allergen particles.

Pollen Allergy Treatment Information from St. Louis Allergists

Pollen allergy is the primary cause of seasonal allergic rhinitis in St. Louis, although mold is present in the outdoor air at the same times of year. The single most important measure to minimize pollen exposure in St. Louis is to keep the windows closed and use air conditioning during the warm weather months.

Tree pollen is in the air in St. Louis during the spring months, often beginning in late February with maple, elm, and juniper (red cedar) and extending through March and April into May. The yellow or green dust we see on our cars in the spring in St. Louis is tree pollen.

Grass pollen is present when grasses pollinate in the late spring and early summer, approximately from May 15th to July 15th in St. Louis. Cutting the grass stirs up grass pollen, particularly when the ground is dry. Ragweed and other weeds pollinate in the late summer and fall, from August 15th through the first frost. This is also the time of year of the highest mold counts and when our St. Louis allergy clinic gets the largest volume of requests for allergy help.

St. Louis Allergy Clinic: Mold Allergies

Molds are organisms that propagate by forming microscopic spores that become airborne and affect many individuals in St. Louis. Other names for molds include fungi and mildew. There are both outdoor and indoor sources of mold spores, so measures to avoid both indoor and outdoor mold should be undertaken for those suffering from a mold allergy in St. Louis.

Mold spores are present in the air in St. Louis from spring through the summer until the hard
frost in the late fail, with highest counts in the late summer and fall. Keeping windows closed
throughout the warm weather months is helpful in St. Louis, including in mild weather in the spring and fall. This is the most effective measure to avoid outdoor mold and get allergy help in St. Louis.

Fallen leaves, grass clippings, and compost piles, all being dead vegetation, support heavy mold growth in St. Louis yards and parks. Raking leaves or cutting grass are not a good idea for the mold-allergic patient. If one must do these activities, wearing a mask and taking an antihistamine before these activities may help minimize symptoms.

Allergy Treatment in St. Louis

All damp, musty-smelling areas are sources of mold exposure. Examples of such places in St. Louis would include damp basements, barns, cabins, and caves. According to our St. Louis allergy doctors, basements, even if they seem dry, will generally contain more mold than an upstairs room of the same house. Basements are therefore not good locations for bedrooms of mold-allergic patients. A dehumidifier in the basement can help retard mold growth by removing moisture from typical humid St. Louis air. Mold-retardant paints and paint additives are available at St. Louis hardware stores to reduce mold growth on basement walls.

In St. Louis homes, furniture, pillows, mattresses and stuffed toys are potential sources of mold. Feather and foam rubber pillows should especially be avoided since both tend to support mold
growth. Even polyester pillows, however, should be encased in dust-proof covers, at the recommendation of St. Louis allergists. Molds can be found in rubber door gaskets and drip trays of refrigerators, in shower stalls, or on damp walls and ceilings. Various mold-killing products, generally containing bleach, are available in St. Louis to clean these surfaces.

Vaporizers or room humidifiers should not be used long-term (for weeks or months) for two reasons. First, according to a St. Louis allergy and asthma doctor, the vaporizer itself can become contaminated with mold, and, secondly, the room can become overly humid and this can encourage mold growth. Short-term use (a few days) of a vaporizer is acceptable if the device is emptied and dried out daily and cleaned every couple of days with dilute bleach. An efficient furnace humidifier (without a reservoir) is often helpful to the allergic patient in the winter and generally will not increase mold growth. Ideal humidity is 30 – 45%. Air conditioning helps the patient both filtering mold from the air and by dehumidifying the indoor air. Air conditioning should continue from the spring through the late fall for allergy help in St. Louis.

Indoor Allergy Help in St. Louis

Household allergies may change or worsen throughout the course of your life, and you may require a change to your allergy treatment in St. Louis from time to time. One of our St. Louis allergy and asthma doctors will assess your condition and make recommendations to bring you allergy relief. For a diagnosis and home allergy treatment, contact our St. Louis allergy clinic today. Accepting most types of insurance, our clinic is home to some of the best asthma doctors in St. Louis.

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