Is Your Home Allergy-Proof?

Indoor Allergies Specialist in St. Louis, MO

Learn what causes indoor allergies, symptoms, treatment, and how to find indoor allergy relief. Visit board-certified allergist Dr. Sonia Cajigal at St. Louis Family Allergy to learn more about indoor allergies and get relief today!

“This office was amazing! I am so very impressed. I have never had such a thorough doctor. The office staff was great too. Dr. Cajigal made sure to lay everything out on the table of what could be the cause of my symptoms. She was so helpful.”

– Rachel R, February 2022

Indoor Allergy Doctor Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri
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What Are Indoor Allergies?

What Causes Indoor Allergies?
Indoor Allergy Symptoms
Indoor Allergy Testing
How to Reduce Indoor Allergens

Indoor allergies are allergies that are caused by substances in your home, your office, your school, or other indoor environments that you frequently visit. Indoor areas can contain many different allergens, many of which can persist year-round. Indoor allergies may also be referred to as dust allergies or perennial allergies depending on the exact cause. Importantly, the term ‘indoor allergy’ is non-specific, and it is often used to describe an unknown allergy to something more specific indoors. For example, you may actually be allergic to mold, but you may only be exposed to mold in your home, which may cause you to label it as an indoor allergy.

What Causes Indoor Allergies?

The most common indoor allergy causes are dust mites, mold, pollen, animal dander, and cockroaches. Therefore, if you suspect that you have an indoor allergy, you may actually be allergic to one or more of these common indoor allergens. We provide a brief overview of the most common indoor allergens below, but this list is by no means exhaustive.

Dust Mites

Dust mites are among the most common causes of indoor allergies. Dust mites live and multiply in warm, humid places with temperatures greater than 70 degrees fahrenheit and humidity above 50 percent. Dust mites are sometimes called bed mites because particles from dust mites are often found in pillows, mattresses, carpeting, and upholstered furniture. Dust mite particles mix with dust and float into the air when disturbed by vacuuming, dusting, sweeping, and other cleaning activities, which is why cleaning can actually trigger an allergic reaction in individuals that are allergic to dust mites. Dust mites are also a common cause of asthma in children.

Mold

Mold spores are another common allergen that can frequently be found indoors. Because of their size, mold spores are often indistinguishable from common house dust. Indoors, mold can be found in moist places like bathrooms and kitchens. If your home is susceptible to mold growth, your indoor allergy might actually be a mold allergy.

Pollen

Pollen from trees, grasses, flowers, and weeds is often associated with outdoor seasonal allergies, but pollen can also find its way indoors. It’s important to pay attention to when you have allergy symptoms. If your allergies flare up in certain seasons, your indoor allergy might actually be a pollen allergy.

Pets

Dander, saliva, and urine from cats, dogs, and other animals are common allergenic substances that are often found in the household dust of pet owners. If you’re a pet owner, your indoor allergy might actually be a pet allergy.

Cockroaches

The saliva, droppings, and sheddings of cockroaches can trigger both asthma and allergies. Like dust mite particles, tiny particles from cockroaches are common indoors depending on where you live. If you’ve struggled with cockroaches in your home, your indoor allergies might actually be a cockroach allergy.
Indoor Allergy Relief

in St. Louis, Missouri

Indoor allergies in St. Louis, Missouri

Indoor Allergy Symptoms

Contrary to what you might expect, indoor allergy symptoms usually get worse during or immediately after dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming because these activities ‘stir up’ allergenic particles, making you more likely to inhale them. Allergenic substances typically take a couple hours to settle again.

Common indoor allergens typically cause allergic rhinitis (nasal allergies). Indoor allergy symptoms include:

    • Red, itchy or teary eyes
    • Runny or stuffy nose
    • Sneezing
    • Itching
    • Wheezing, coughing tightness in the chest and shortness of breath

In addition to allergic rhinitis, some indoor allergens like dust mites can also trigger asthma and cause eczema to flare.

Indoor Allergy Test

When you see an allergist about indoor allergies, your visit will begin with a detailed medical history. Your allergist will ask you questions about your work and home environments, your family medical history, and specific situations when you’ve experienced allergic reactions.

After your allergist develops an understanding of your medical history, the next step is typically skin testing to determine exactly what indoor allergen you’re allergic to. In the case of indoor allergies, your allergist may test for multiple allergies, including dust mites, mold, pollen, pet dander, etc. depending on your medical history.

A indoor allergy skin test involves using a small, sterile needle to prick the skin. The needle coated with an extract of the suspected allergen. If you’re allergic to the substance, the tested area will swell into a small red welt.

Your allergist may also order a blood test if additional confirmation is needed.

Indoor Allergy Testing

in St. Louis, Missouri

Indoor allergy test St. Louis, Missouri

How to Reduce Indoor Allergens

As with most allergies, avoidance is the best way to manage indoor allergies. One of the most effective methods to deal with indoor allergies is to allergy-proof your home. Ridding your home of indoor allergens often involves special considerations when it comes to furnishing your home and managing your appliances. Regular cleaning is also an important part of keeping your home free of dust allergies.

Remove Indoor Allergens From Your Home

    • Where possible, install wood flooring rather than carpeting, especially in bedrooms.
    • Remove curtains and drapes, especially in bedrooms.
    • When you clean, use a central vacuum or a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
    • Use “mite-proof” cases on your mattresses and pillows.
    • Keep a HEPA air cleaner running in your bedroom, and any other high-traffic areas.
    • Keep pets out of the bedroom, and preferably out of the house entirely.
    • Install a high-efficiency media filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12 in the furnace and the air conditioning unit.
    • Leave the fan on to create a “whole house” air filter that removes particulates.
    • Change media filters at least once every three months to keep the air clean year-round.
    • Have your heating and air conditioning units inspected and serviced every six months.
    • Use a hygrometer to measure the humidity in your home, and do what you can to keep the humidity level below 50 percent. A dehumidifier may be necessary.
    • Use a vent fan to remove moisture in bathrooms and kitchen.
    • Repair water leaks to help manage moisture.

Clean Your Home Regularly

    • If your allergies tend to flair while cleaning, wear an N95 filter mask while dusting, sweeping, or vacuuming.
    • Wash all bed linens regularly using hot water.
    • Keep all unrefrigerated food covered and dispose of food waste in a tightly sealed garbage can.
    • If cockroaches are a known problem, use roach traps and schedule regular visits by a professional pest control service.
Visit us at St. Louis Family Allergy to get more personalized advice on how to prevent dust allergies.
Vacuuming to remove indoor allergies in St. Louis, Missouri

Best Medicine for Indoor Allergies

Common medications can provide immediate indoor allergy symptom relief, but their effects are temporary. Decongestants or antihistamines may help alleviate stuffy nose, runny nose, sneezing, and itching. Corticosteroid sprays may help alleviate inflammation in the nose. Depending on what indoor allergen(s) you’re allergic to, oral immunotherapy or allergy shots may also be a more permanent option to prevent indoor allergy reactions. Visit us at St. Louis Family Allergy to learn more about your indoor allergy treatment options.

References

[1] American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: https://acaai.org/
[2] Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: https://www.aafa.org/
More Specialties

Asthma

Drug Allergies

Eye Allergies

Food Allergies

Nasal Allergies

Skin Allergies

Allergy Shots

Allergy Testing

Biologic Therapy

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Visit Indoor Allergy Specialist Dr. Sonia Cajigal of St. Louis Family Allergy in St. Louis, Missouri

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Dr. Sonia Cajigal

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"Dr. Cajigal was friendly, professional, and informative. She took the time to explain the tests and what was going on with my allergies. She is so knowledgeable and really cared about how I was feeling. I would highly recommend this practice if you suffer from allergies and asthma."

- Sue D, July 2020

“Dr Cajigal is a great listener. She trusts her patients instead of treating them as if they are not the experts of their own bodies. I really appreciate that (many doctors do not have that quality). She also immediately treats the symptoms instead of waiting to see if things clear. I use her for my children and myself. We have never left her office feeling as if it was a waste of time.”

– Stephanie, August 2020

"Great Allergist!"

- Ann H, December 2018

"She is the best."

- Stephen W, June 2020

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