Common Indoor Allergy Myths

During Springtime, much of our focus is on seasonal pollen allergies.  But what about the difficult to escape indoor allergies?  Many indoor allergy sufferers experience symptoms year-round and may go to extreme measures to try and reduce their exposure to the allergens in their homes.  As 2020 has taught us well, misinformation usually does more harm than good.  Here are three myth busters about common indoor allergies.

 

Allergy Myth #1 – Hypoallergenic Pets

Allergies to pet dander are common but getting a hypoallergenic pet will solve the problem, right?  Unfortunately, truly hypoallergenic pets don’t exist. It’s not the animal’s fur that causes allergy problems — it’s their dander, microscopic proteins that are found in their skin, saliva and urine. Research has shown that dog breeds that shed less fur still release dander into the environment at equivalent levels to other breeds. Cat dander spreads extremely easily and can be transferred from person to person.

Some measures to reduce the amount of dander in the home is to wash pets at least once or twice a week and use a HEPA air filter in the bedroom, which should be a pet-free zone.

Allergy Myth #2 – Feather and Down bedding is a NO!

Feather pillows and down comforters have long been thought to be bad for those with allergies and there has been a boom in allergy friendly alternatives. Feather allergy is in fact rare. Allergy symptoms that arise from bedding and pillows are far more likely to be due to the presence of house dust mite in the bedding. Interestingly, some studies have shown that synthetic pillows are associated with higher levels of house dust mite due to loosely woven casings.  Whether synthetic or feather, the most important aspect is to reduce dust mite, dander and mould inside the bedding by choosing casings with a tight weave and to wash bedding regularly in hot water.

Allergy Myth #3 – Black mould in the house is a serious health concern

Mould can accumulate in dark moist areas such as basements, bathrooms and showers. Although many moulds are black, Stachybotrys chartarum is the type of mould most people are referring to when voicing concerns about toxic black mould. There is no scientific evidence that this type of mould is any more dangerous to health than other moulds. In those who are allergic to a specific type or types of mould exposure to the allergen may cause nose and/or eye irritation or worsen asthma symptoms.

The take home message is go for reliable allergy testing to understand what you are allergic to and get good, evidence-based advice to help you make changes to your home that will really have effect.