Are indoor allergies getting the best of you? There are many reasons why you might be suffering from constant sneezing, a stuffy nose, sinus pressure, and even itchy and watery eyes!
Here are a few common indoor allergy triggers:
- Pet Dander
- Dust Mites
- Mold Spores
Why do our bodies react to allergies?
The reason why we have allergies is an ongoing debate. Studies like the one over at Discovery Magazine point to the body’s response of releasing antibodies to attack foreign substances as being an evolutionary advantage against venomous reptiles and flying insects like bees or wasps, cancers and other diseases. If true, then it suggests that while our immune system has made our bodies more resilient against many unique forces, at the same time it has caused us to be hyper-sensitive to particles like dust, pollen, and dander from our pets.
Some people’s allergies are so bad that they have to avoid some people’s homes entirely, carry an inhaler, or regularly visit their doctor for allergy shots.
Whether you can live with the discomfort of allergies or are looking for ways to keep triggers at bay in your home, you’ve come to the right place!
One of the EASIEST ways to help rid your home of allergy triggers is changing your air filter regularly. While choosing the right filtration option for your home is ultimately up to you, we’re here to help educate and inform you so that you can make the best decision based on your needs.
Our filters are made up of tightly packed synthetic fibers (fiberglass filters are not) that capture particles like pet dander, mites, mold, and more ranging from 0.3 microns (a very small size) to 100 microns (thickness of human hair).
Every filter has what is called “Dirt Holding Capacity”. This is the number of airborne contaminants the filter media can trap before air flow becomes restricted. When this happens, you will end up running your air conditioning systems for longer just to change the room temperature a few degrees. Which, in turn, will make your bills go up and your expensive air conditioning system wear out a lot faster.
Now that we’ve established that you need to change your air filter regularly, we need to talk about MERV ratings.
What is a MERV rating? MERV stands for Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value. MERV is the standard that rates the overall effectiveness of air filters. Higher value MERV rating equates to finer filtration, meaning fewer dust particles and other airborne contaminants can pass through the filter.
The most common and most recommended for households are MERV 8, MERV 11, and MERV 13 filters. For residential applications, we do not recommend going below a MERV 8 or higher than 13.
You will notice in the graph above, MERV 8 filters tend to catch a lot of airborne particles, but they will allow some smaller particles to evade capture. If your allergies are less severe or you are already taking a doctor recommended medication, then a MERV 8 filter might meet your needs. However, friends and family might thank you for choosing a MERV 11 or a MERV 13 filter, so they can breathe a little easier.
Don’t have central air or don’t run your air conditioner often? To get the best quality air possible you can always go the route of buying an air purifier.
When shopping air purifiers look around for a model that uses a HEPA filter. HEPA stands for High-Efficiency Particulate Air and refers to the fact that the filter is manufactured, tested, and certified in accordance with current standards. HEPA filters then must capture 99.97% of 0.3-micron particles in the air. See the similarity to MERV 13? For pet dander alone a HEPA filter might be overdoing it, but because you don’t use your air conditioning system regularly or you have allergy problems, the higher filtration capacity makes the purchase worthwhile.
Keep in mind that air purifiers come in a wide range of capacities. Some are designed to work in a small bedroom or office, others for more open spaces like living rooms that connect to hallways and kitchens. You should decide how much you are willing to spend and how allergies affect you throughout the day. If allergies are only a problem at night, think about buying a smaller purifier to keep in your bedroom. It is a safe bet to say that the bigger the purifier the more you will pay but that also means it is designed to move and scrub more air of allergy-causing contaminants.
Last, but not least, here are some other ways you can help keep allergens at bay:
- Turn on the exhaust fans. When showering or cooking something as simple as turning on your exhaust fans can help remove excess humidity and odors.
- Wash your hands frequently. Duh! Not only can washing your hands decrease the transmission of common viruses, but it also can help reduce exposure to allergens.
- Launder linens in hot water (above 130 degrees). Washing your sheets frequently and at a high temperature can help get rid of dust mites.
- Keep Your Pets Pretty Clean. Have pets? Make sure that you are bathing them every week or every other week to cut down on allergy-causing pet dander.
- Perform an indoor and outdoor survey of your home. Each month it’s a good idea to look for visible mold spots and identify areas at high risk for mold formation.
While these are all great tips that can drastically help with your indoor allergies, it’s always a good idea to see a doctor when dealing with troublesome allergies.
This blog post is approved by the National Air Filtration Association (NAFA) because it aligns with their mission to educate end-users about the importance of air filtration. To learn more about NAFA, click here.