When Holiday Guests Have Allergies or Asthma
They’re almost here! No, not the holiday sales. I’m talking about the friends and family members who’ll sneeze, sniffle, and wheeze their way through the holiday because they’re allergic to something in your home.
Holidays are the perfect time for people to get together. However, some guests are more sensitive than others to specific indoor allergens.
Luckily, you don’t have to leave anyone off your invitation list just because they suffer from allergies or asthma. There are simple things you can do to make your home more hospitable for them.
In this blog we’ll discuss:
- Why do only some guests feel “sick” in your home?
- Does boarding your pets remove allergen triggers?
- Does vigorous cleaning remove allergens?
- How can you keep your guests comfortable?
Why do only some guests feel “sick” in your home?
During this time of year, it’s not uncommon for people to get colds or other viral illnesses. If a guest shows up to your home for the holidays and starts sneezing or coughing hours later, it’s easy to assume that they must be sick. Actually, they may not be.
Sometimes allergens in your home – dust, mold, pet dander – can trigger allergy or asthma symptoms. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies. An additional 24 million people in the U.S. have asthma, including more than 6 million children.
When someone has allergies or asthma (or both), their immune system slips into overdrive when confronted with bio residual proteins – otherwise known as indoor allergens. What may not bother you can send another person into a coughing or sneezing fit.
Common symptoms of allergies and asthma
One of the reasons why people confuse allergies and asthma with common illnesses is because the symptoms are very similar. When one of your guests has a sensitivity to something in your home, they may react by developing:
- Bad joint pain.
- Hives or rashes.
- Itchy skin.
- Puffy, watery eyes.
- Runny nose.
About 20 percent of the worldwide population has a pet allergy. The most common sensitivities are cat and dog dander. If one of your guests is among that 20 percent, they could find themselves very miserable around fluffy Fifi or Fido.
Some people assume boarding their pets can resolve the issue if a guest has an allergy. However, that won’t really solve the problem.
You can remove your furry friends from your home, but that doesn’t mean the allergens that trigger allergies and asthma will leave with them. That’s because the problem is microscopic proteins found in your pet’s fur, saliva, sander, feathers, urine, and solid waste.
These proteins can imbed themselves in carpeting, upholstery, and any other fabrics throughout your home. From there, they’re quickly inhaled by your allergic guests and absorbed through their skin. Before they know it, their symptoms are raging.
Unfortunately, you can clean every square foot of your home thoroughly, and it won’t resolve the allergy and asthma issues for your guests. Billions of indoor allergens circulate freely throughout every indoor space, including your home.
Luckily, most people don’t react to indoor allergens. However, for children and adults with allergies or asthma, they get mistaken for dangerous invaders. Their immune systems are placed on high alert, rushing antibodies to the nose, lungs, eyes, and skin to defend against an attack. That’s when the coughing, sneezing, watery eyes, and wheezing begins.
How can you keep your guests comfortable?
There is no such thing as eliminating exposure to indoor allergens completely. However, the good news is you can dramatically lower the number of invisible proteins hiding inside your home.
Experts say reducing indoor allergens should be enough to greatly relieve symptoms. After all, even the most sensitive people can tolerate low levels of indoor allergens without breaking into an allergy or asthma fit.
Here are seven easy ways you can make your home more comfortable for your guests with allergies and asthma this holiday season.
1 – Use a HEPA filter
High Efficiency Particle Air (HEPA) filters are highly effective at removing allergens from your carpeting and fabric furniture. Invest in a quality vacuum cleaner that uses HEPA filtration, and vacuum at least twice weekly.
You also can use an air purifier with HEPA filtration to remove indoor allergens. Research finds that by running a HEPA air purifier daily, you can eliminate up to 99.97 percent of airborne allergens in your home.
2 – Treat your home with Easy Air
Treating your home regularly with a solution like Easy Air Organic Anti-Allergy Spray can help neutralize protein allergens. Lightly mist upholstery, rugs, carpets, drapes, pillows, and mattresses to reduce the number of allergens your guests are exposed to while in your home.
3 – Bathe pets frequently
If you have pets, bathe them frequently with an anti-allergen animal shampoo. You can find these products online and in local pet stores.
Follow up by moistening your pet’s fur and combing it daily. It can help deactivate allergens and keep them from building up.
4 – Change the litter box frequently
Remember when we said earlier that pet proteins can build up in your pet’s feces and urine? With dogs, this isn’t so much an issue (unless your pup happens to have frequent accidents indoors).
However, with cats who use litter boxes, the problem can compound if you go too long between litter box cleanings.
5 – Avoid environmental triggers
It can be quite tempting to start a roaring fire in your fireplace during the colder months, especially at the holidays. However, it’s best to avoid them because wood fires can contribute to indoor allergies. Only fire up that fireplace if it’s powered by natural gas.
Other environmental triggers that can aggravate allergies and asthma include:
- Cigarette smoke.
- Fabric softeners.
- Fresh paint.
- Scented candles and room fresheners.
- Scented laundry rinse.
6 – Eliminate certain types of bedding
Feather pillows might sound comforting, but they can be a huge allergen activator. Stick with pillows that use polyester fibers for filler instead, especially if they’re in your guest bedroom.
Also, wash your bedding at least once weekly in hot water (over 130 degrees Fahrenheit). Dry it on the hottest setting in your dryer.
You can get extra protection by using an anti-allergy laundry rinse. Adding just 2 tablespoons to the final rinse cycle destroys allergens that regular laundry detergent can’t touch.
7 – Diffuse allergens away
Essential oil diffusers can help deodorize your home and add a festive scent to the air during the holidays. Another benefit of using a diffuser when guests are over is it can neutralize some airborne contaminants, clear sinuses, and relieve allergy headaches.
The most effective essential oils for these purposes include:
Don’t sneeze through the holidays
Allergens are everywhere. Your home is no exception. However, by reducing the allergen count inside your house or apartment, you can make holidays more pleasant for your allergic guests. They’ll appreciate you for it!
Happy holidays and be well!
- Allergic to your cat? vet.osu.edu. Accessed November 21, 2022.
- Allergic to your dog? vet.osu.edu. Accessed November 21, 2022.
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- Dog and Cat Allergies: Current State of Diagnostic Approaches and Challenges. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed November 21, 2022.
- Lavender essential oil inhalation suppresses allergic airway inflammation and mucous cell hyperplasia in a murine model of asthma. sciencedirect.com. Accessed November 21, 2022.
- Mentha piperita (peppermint). pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed November 21, 2022.
- Melaleuca alternifolia (Tea Tree) Oil: a Review of Antimicrobial and Other Medicinal Properties. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed November 21, 2022.
- Stability of allergens. ncbi.nlm.nih.gov. Accessed November 21, 2022.
- The chemistry of cats: Allergies, catnip and urine. compoundchem.com. Accessed November 21, 2022.
- What is a HEPA filter? epa.gov. Accessed November 21, 2022.