Dealing with allergies: Tips to dodge pollen, mold, and dust

Adult Health - March 22nd, 2024

Reading Time: 5 Minute/s

Dealing with allergies: Tips to dodge pollen, mold, and dust

Adult Health

Dealing with allergies: Tips to dodge pollen, mold, and dust

Posted on March 22nd, 2024 - Reading Time: 5 Minute/s

As we head into spring, the sunshine is back and so are seasonal allergies.

This year, there is no need to let pesky allergies stand in the way of enjoying the warm months. Allergies have different sources, like pollen, mold, or dust. Wherever they come from, there are many ways to protect yourself and relieve symptoms.

Types of allergens and where they come from

  • Pollen allergy symptoms usually start when trees and flowers begin to bloom. Plant pollens are fine powders that travel by wind, so it can affect air quality and make it difficult to breathe outside. In Washington, pollen commonly comes from trees, grasses, and weeds. Pollen can travel long distances in the breeze, which makes allergies worse on windy days.
  • Mold grows in areas of your home that stay moist, such as the basement, bathroom, or kitchen. For people who are allergic to it, any mold can cause allergy or asthma symptoms.
  • Dust is a buildup of tiny particles that shed from skin, hairs and fibers, and microscopic insects called dust mites. A favorite place for dust mites is bedding.

Allergy symptoms and how allergens can affect you

Pollen is the main culprit for itchy, watery eyes, scratchy throat, sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and swelling around the eyes. Pollen allergy is also known as hay fever. Certain conditions, like asthma, get worse when the pollen count is high.

Mold can cause a sore throat, stuffy nose, coughing, wheezing, or skin irritation. Exposing yourself to mold regularly can cause more serious health problems over time.

Dust can pollute the air in your home and trigger allergy symptoms and asthma.

Control pollen, mold, and dust in your home

There is no way to eliminate mold, pollen, and dust completely. But there are steps you can take to prevent it from getting out of hand in your home and affecting your health.

Set up a weekly cleaning routine. Cleaning each week is a great way to reduce allergens in your home.

  1. Clean surfaces, walls, floors, and bathrooms. A vinegar cleaning solution will help remove dust and pollen while limiting mold growth.
  2. Try to wash your bedding every one or two weeks in hot water to limit allergens where you sleep.
  3. Vacuum once or twice per week. Investing in a vacuum with a HEPA filter that removes tiny particles may also help.
  4. Clean or replace filters every three to six months. They’re everywhere – vacuums, air purifiers, above stove tops, in your washing machine, fans, and heating units.

Watch for water leaks. Where moisture gathers, mold grows. If you have a water leak anywhere in your home, take care of it right away or contact your landlord, if you have one, to fix it.

Check sealant and caulk. This is that white border you see around a sink, bathtub, or window frame. If you see mold here, remove it, clean the area, and replace it. If you rent, check with your landlord first.

Did you know
Pro tip: To kill mold on most surfaces, use vinegar. It’s magic (and affordable). Fill a clean, empty spray bottle with white distilled or cleaning vinegar and spray it directly onto the mold. Let it sit for a few minutes before wiping it up. To avoid harmful gases, don’t use bleach or hydrogen peroxide in the same room at the same time as vinegar.

Manage your home’s air quality. Use a fan or dehumidifier to remove moisture in the air, especially during and after a bath or shower. Also be mindful when you open your windows. If the air quality outside is bad, leave them shut.

Love your pets in moderation. Limit your contact with pets that spend a lot of time outdoors. Try to keep pets out of your bedroom and off your bed. Bathing your pet every one or two weeks, and brushing often, can also help reduce the allergens and dander they shed. Using a damp washcloth to wipe down your pet can help if your pet is afraid of water.

Protect yourself when the pollen count is high. During allergy season, keep an eye on pollen count and air quality reports. The Weather Channel offers daily and weekly allergy forecasts. Take extra precautions when the pollen count is high or on dry, windy days.

  • At home, keep your doors and windows closed to help keep pollen out.
  • When you go outside, wear protective clothing like a hat, sunglasses, and mask to keep pollen out of your hair, eyes, and lungs.
  • When coming inside, take your shoes and hat off outside, to avoid bringing allergens inside.
  • On laundry day, dry clothes in a dryer or hang them inside (with an exhaust fan on to eliminate moisture), but not outside.
  • Before going to bed, bathe and wash your hair.

And when it rains, celebrate! Rainy days clean the air and are a great time to enjoy the outdoors and crack open your windows.

Work with your doctor to get relief from allergies

To get relief from allergy symptoms, you may want to work with your doctor to find out what exactly you might be allergic to and how to manage it best.

Finding ways to manage your allergy symptoms. Most allergy medicines are available over the counter, and some by prescription. Here are some common recommendations and how they help:

    • Nasal rinses
    • Nasal sprays (cromolyn, antihistamines, or steroids). Steroids are the strongest medication but can have more side effects. It is best to start with one of the other nasal sprays.
    • Antihistamines by mouth
    • Decongestants
    • Allergy shots for persistent severe symptoms that cannot be controlled with medications
    • Prescription inhalers for people with asthma


When using a nasal rinse, use distilled water only. Filtered or tap water that is safe to drink may still have tiny organisms or microscopic bacteria that will thrive in your nose and could cause an infection. All water is not the same!

Getting to know your allergy seasons. Yes, there is one general allergy season. But each allergen has its own specific season too and it can vary based on where you live. Once you get to know what you’re allergic to, you can begin figuring out when it affects you the most.

Learning more about your allergies. You may be allergic to certain types of pollen and not others. Or sensitive to pet dander but not pollen. An allergy test can help with a treatment planning and is needed for allergy shots.

Did you know
There are two types of allergy tests: skin and blood tests. Both can help you see what you’re allergic to and if treatment is needed. Check with your doctor to see if an allergy test is right for you.

If you are concerned about allergy symptoms lasting for a long time or getting worse, talk to your health care provider. They may suggest treatment options or recommend other ways to manage your symptoms.

Don’t let your allergies hold you back. You can keep your allergy symptoms in check by managing allergens at home, protecting yourself when pollen counts are high, and working with your doctor when needed.

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