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Allergies May Plague Renters More Than Homeowners

FRIDAY, Aug. 3 (HealthDay News) -- People with common indoor allergies who rent their home are much less likely than homeowners to make changes that would ease their allergy symptoms, researchers have found.

In a survey of people with indoor allergies, 91 percent of those who owned their home were willing to keep pets out of the bedroom to eliminate dust mites, mold and pet dander, and adjust their home humidity to below 60 percent to prevent the growth of mold, according to a new study from the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

"Allergy season lasts all year long for people who suffer from common household allergens," Dr. James Sublett, an allergist and chairman of the ACAAI Indoor Environment Committee, said in a college news release. "When environmental changes aren't made indoors, the home becomes a breeding ground for symptoms rather than a place to escape allergens."

In contrast, the researchers found that just 63 percent of renters make these types of changes to control their allergy symptoms.

"By making recommended environmental changes around the home, people with allergies can substantially reduce their symptoms," the study's lead author, Dr. Michael Schatz, an allergist and fellow at the ACAAI, said in the news release. "While some changes are related to owning a home, other changes, such as encasing your mattress with a dust-proof cover, can and should be done no matter your real estate status."

The ACAAI recommends that people with indoor allergies make the following changes at home to ease their symptoms:

  • Wrap pillows, mattresses and upholstered furniture with dust-proof covers. These covers should be washed routinely in hot water.
  • Remove carpeting.
  • Reduce home humidity to 60 percent.
  • Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter once a week, or wear a dust mask while vacuuming.
  • Remove visible mold.
  • Install an air purifier.
  • Don't allow pets in the bedroom.
  • Wash pets every week to reduce exposure to dander.

The study was published in the August issue of the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about indoor allergies.

-- Mary Elizabeth Dallas

SOURCE: American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, news release, Aug. 3, 2012

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