Even if it isn't pollen season, you may find yourself affected by allergy and asthma symptoms due to allergens lurking in your carpet. Symptoms such as nasal stuffiness, watery eyes, sneezing, and constant post-nasal drip may indicate non-seasonal hay fever. The culprit? More often than not, low-lying carpet allergens, right beneath your nose, are causing your discomfort. What are these tiny or invisible irritants, and how can you avoid them?
Allergens are substances foreign to the body that may cause an allergic reaction. As antigens, typically proteins, allergens provoke allergic reactions like coughing and sneezing in people with sensitive immune systems. According to e-healthy-homes, carpet may contain 100 times more allergens than hard flooring. The Asthma and Allergy Association of America states that not only are there more allergens on surfaces than in the air, but that the slightest movement can disturb them. This means whenever you sit on your shag carpet, long-overdue for a cleaning, you send those allergens airborne, where they can circulate for several hours for you and your family to breathe in.
Indoor allergens include:
- House dust
- Dust mites
- Cockroaches, which can be a major factor in serious asthma and nasal allergy.
- Mold Spores
- The dander, or skin shedding of an animal
Your home environment may contain a variety of animal and plant life, most of which can be a source for allergens. Add an absorbent surface like a carpet into the mix, and you have a recipe for disaster. Without proper cleaning methods, your carpet will become overrun with these irritants and ultimately cause chronic breathing conditions.
Families with small children have a particular challenge when it comes to minimizing indoor allergens. Children's immune systems are more sensitive to foreign substances like the ones found in carpet, and children themselves spend more of their time close to the ground than adults do. The dust lingering in your child’s crawling space directly affects his or her breathing experience. According to Green Guide, an infant could end up swallowing 10 grams (0.4 ounces) of that dust daily. That’s comparable to three saltine crackers’ worth of dust!
Before you forego carpet altogether, remember that with proper care, you can keep these allergens at bay and still enjoy a lush, beautiful floor covering that is easy on the feet and the eyes. By having your carpet professionally cleaned every 12 to 18 months and vacuuming regularly, you effectively eliminate the negative impact that allergens have on your immune system and your life.