Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center - Health Library

Lifestyle Changes to Manage Allergic Rhinitis

There are many types of allergens, so it's not possible to get rid of all of them. There are steps you can take to lower the number in your environment. This will help lower the chances of having a reaction. Be aware these won't get rid of your allergies. You risk a reaction each time you are in contact with allergens that cause problems for you.

General Guidelines

  Control Dust Mites

In your home, dust mites may cause you problems. They are mainly found in bedding, curtains, and carpeting.

To control dust mites:

  • Wash sheets and blankets weekly in hot water (130°F [54°C]) and dry in a hot dryer.
  • Cover mattresses and pillowcases with airtight allergen-proof covers.
  • Replace comforters and pillows made from natural materials (such as down, feathers, or cotton) with those made from synthetic fibers.
  • Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting (especially in the bedroom) as much as you can. If you have it, vacuum often.

  Control Animal Dander

Animal fur doesn't cause allergies. There's a protein in their saliva, urine, and flakes of skin. If you have problems because of pets, you can:

  • Keep your pet out of the rooms you use most often.
  • Have other people in your home groom the pet on a regular basis.

In some cases, the only way to solve this problem is to take the pet out of your home.

  Control Pests

Cockroaches and mice cause allergies and asthma. If this is a problem in your home, try to hire an exterminator.

You can also try to:

  • Close all open gaps in windows, floorboards, doors, and around drains.
  • Fix and seal leaky water faucets and pipes because roaches need water and humidity to survive.
  • Keep food in airtight containers.
  • Remove pet food dishes after they've eaten.
  • Keep stove and kitchen surfaces free of food and dirt.

  Control Indoor Molds

The spores of molds and fungi thrive in warm, moist, and humid places. This can often cause problems for some. To lower the number of indoor molds and fungi:

  • Remove any curtains, carpeting, or wallpaper that have signs of mold.
  • Install exhaust fans in the kitchen and bathroom.
  • Use dehumidifiers in damp areas such as the basement.
  • Try not to store clothing in damp areas.
  • Don't carpet damp or concrete floors.
  • Use a solution of 1 part bleach and 20 parts water to clean areas with mold.

  Avoid Airborne Irritants

Air irritants and pollutants can trigger an allergic reaction. You can do the following to help reduce your exposure to airborne irritants:

Control airborne irritants that trigger your allergies by staying away from:

  • Smoking—Don't smoke or allow it in your home.
  • Fresh paint fumes.
  • Fumes of strong cleaning products.
  • Perfumes and sprays when possible.

  Keep Environments Clean and Dry

Nearly all allergens thrive in moist, damp, or dirty places. One of the best ways to lower your chances of allergic rhinitis is to keep these places clean and dry. You can do this by using:

  • A vacuum with HEPA filters. Do this as often as you can.
  • Fans to move air around.
  • An electrostatic air purifier.
  • A dehumidifier in damp areas.

  Decrease Exposure to Outdoor Allergens

If you have problems with pollens, molds, or other outdoor allergens:

  • Don't rake, mow, or blow leaves.
  • Try not to do any outdoor activities that put you in contact with allergens that bother you.
  • Try not to garden or farm often if you have problems with mold. Some people may have to stop doing these.
  • Close windows and stay indoors when pollen counts are high. Air conditioning can be helpful.
  • Try to do outdoor activities when pollen counts are lower.
REFERENCES:

Allergic rhinitis. American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology website. Available at: https://acaai.org/allergies/types/hay-fever-rhinitis. Accessed October 16, 2018.

Allergic rhinitis. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at:http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T116217/Allergic-rhinitis. Updated July 9, 2018. Accessed October 16, 2018.

Allergic rhinitis. Merck Manual Professional Version website. Available at: https://www.merckmanuals.com/professional/immunology-allergic-disorders/allergic,-autoimmune,-and-other-hypersensitivity-disorders/allergic-rhinitis. Updated January 2018. Accessed October 16, 2018.

Last reviewed September 2018 by EBSCO Medical Review Board Marcin Chwistek, MD  Last Updated: 10/16/2018