Mould and mildew are types of fungi, which grow in damp and poorly ventilated areas. Mildew is commonly found in bathrooms and kitchens and may trigger an allergic reaction in sensitive people. Outdoors, mould grows on rotting logs, grasses and fallen leaves. It is difficult to avoid inhaling their spores, which travel through the air. This triggers an allergic reaction in some people. Exposure to pets such as cats and dogs can also trigger allergic reactions in some people. 1
Dust-mites are microscopic insect-like creatures found in most areas inhabited by people. The highest concentrations of dust mites in homes are usually found in mattresses, pillows, bedding, carpets and curtains. 2
In this article, we provide a few tips and tricks to help you deal with pets, mould and dust mites.
The best remedy for pet allergy is to make your bedroom a pet-free zone since people spend approximately one-third of their time there.
If pets cause only minor problems, consider establishing certain rooms in the house, such as your bedroom, as a pet-free zone.
Change your clothes after prolonged exposure to animals.
Wash your pet every week.
Ask someone to brush your pet to help remove pet dander as well as clean the litter box or cage.
Improve airflow through your rooms.
Seal the leaks in bathrooms and roofs.
Get rid of indoor pot plants and outdoor sources that promote the growth of mould.
Remove sources of dampness, e.g. carpets in bathrooms.
Wash sheets, pillow cases and other bedding weekly in hot water.
If possible, consider replacing carpets with hard floors such as wood, tiles, linoleum, concrete, where practical and affordable.
Vacuum carpets weekly.
Damp dust or use electrostatic cloths to clean hard surfaces weekly.
The symptoms of allergic rhinitis (hay fever) are increasing, especially in South Africa as it is home to the most common indoor and outdoor allergies recognised globally. 2 The consequences of these allergic disorders can result in morbidity, employment and school absenteeism and loss of quality of life. 3
Hay fever is the most common form of non-infectious rhinitis, affecting between 20 % and 30 % of all adults and as many as 40 % of children. 4
Hives occurs frequently, with a lifetime prevalence above 20 %. If left untreated, chronic hives can have a severe impact on quality of life and impair productivity by up to 30 %. The socio-economic impact of hives is great, since it is a disease which primarily occurs in people of working age. 4
According to the World Health Organization, 92 % of the world’s population lives in places where air pollution exceeds safe limits. 6
The origins of particulate matter produced from various sources, including those issued by traffic and the burning of fuels such as coals, petrol and diesel are associated with the development of allergic respiratory diseases. 7
Diesel production represents the majority of the particulate matter in urban air pollution. Diesel exhaust particles (DEPs) are in the ultrafine range and can interact with pollen, which can result in increased allergic reactions. 8
Household fuels, oil refineries, cement producers, coal mining and haulage are also significant contributors to air pollution in South Africa. 5