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Recognize the symptoms?

  • Coughing
  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Nose, throat, eye irritation

If you suffer from allergies, the air that you breathe at home might be part of the problem. Indoor Allergen and Mold Testing can help you take steps toward improving the air quality of your home, starting by measuring the levels of commonly occurring allergens—the substances that cause allergic reactions in people who are susceptible.

Indoor Allergen Testing

If you’ve been diagnosed with allergies, you may have an increased sensitivity to certain allergens. You may be receiving treatment that minimizes your body’s responses to allergens. But minimizing your exposure to the allergens that bother you is an equally crucial step towards controlling your symptoms.

It may be impossible to completely eliminate all allergens in the home, but even reducing them can lead to a significant decrease in symptoms, less need for medication and a higher quality of life.

Identifying the levels of common allergens in your home and then taking the necessary steps, as appropriate, to reduce them can provide benefit to family members with allergies, whether or not they’ve been formally diagnosed.

Sneezing, coughing, postnasal drip and itchy eyes are such common symptoms that many sufferers downplay them, attributing them to a cold or vague sinus trouble. Yet in 20 percent of all adults and 40 percent of all children, these common respiratory symptoms actually result from reactions to allergy-producing substances in the air.

The respiratory symptoms of asthma, which affect approximately 11 million Americans, are often provoked by airborne allergens.

Overall, allergic diseases are among the major causes of illness and disability in the United States, affecting as many as 40 to 50 million Americans. 

In addition to helping your family, reducing airborne allergens in your home may also benefit visitors to your home and the next owners of your home, should you decide to move.

Allergens and Asthma

The typical signs and symptoms of asthma are:

  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Shortness of breath
  • Waking up in the middle of the night with any of these

Approximately 20 million people in the United States have asthma – and 50 percent of those cases are attributable to allergies. Six million of all people with asthma are children.

People with allergic asthma have a genetically programmed response to allergens. Upon exposure, an asthma episode may be triggered. The lining of the airways becomes inflamed, and other physiological changes take place. These changes result in symptoms, such as wheezing, coughing, and shortness of breath -- symptoms which can range from mild to life-threatening.

Asthma can’t yet be cured, but it can be controlled. Identifying airborne allergens in the home and then avoiding exposure are crucial measures to reduce asthma episodes and their potentially serious health consequences.

Dust Mites

It was once believed that dust itself was the cause of allergic reactions. But now it’s known that tiny creatures called dust mites, which inhabit the dust, are the problem. Dust mites are 8-legged microscopic animals that are related to spiders and ticks. Up to 500 dust mites can live in one gram of dust. (One gram weighs about as much as a paper clip.).

Fortunately for those living 3000 or more feet above sea level, dust mites can’t survive at high altitude. They require water to survive, so they thrive best in humid regions. Their principal food is shed human skin. This dietary preference causes them to gravitate towards areas of human habitation. And, with the average human sloughing off one pound of dead skin per year, dust mites typically have plenty to eat. Too small to be seen, their droppings and their decaying bodies can cause allergic reactions when inhaled by people with dust mite sensitivities, or when dust mites come into contact with their skin.

The symptoms of dust mite allergies are like those seen in other common allergies���sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, cough, and other symptoms common to allergic rhinitis. Up to 10 percent of the U.S. population is allergic to dust mite, and in some regions, dust mites may play a role in up to 90 percent of allergic asthma cases.  

Where Dust Mites Live

Bedrooms are a prime habitat, and a used mattress can contain 100,000 to 10 million mites. Dust mites also can be found anywhere dust collects, such as drapes, stuffed toys and carpets. Dusty houses can make the problem worse. But clean houses aren’t immune. Normal cleaning processes aren’t typically adequate to reduce the dust mite population.

Bedding provides the perfect warm environment for dust mites, with a constant supply of dead skin. Thats why dust mites are often the culprit when people with asthma have more attacks at night.

Cockroaches

Cockroach allergies are remarkably common, and some researchers believe the incidence is rising. One-third of people with other documented allergies are sensitive to cockroaches, but so are up to 12 percent of individuals without any other known allergies.

Cockroach allergies may be dangerous to people with asthma, as exposure may cause severe attacks in over half of those diagnosed. Even if you’ve never seen a cockroach in your home, the allergen may be present. It is not necessarily a reflection of the cleanliness of your home.  Cockroaches live in walls and other places you cannot see or easily clean.

Cockroaches – In My Home?

Cockroach allergies are most common in southern states, but that’s not the only region where they occur. The bugs thrive in moist, humid climates, and abide in cracks, crevices and spaces between walls.

Unclean surfaces and uncovered food can make a home more susceptible to a cockroach infestation. Yet cockroaches can congregate wherever food and warmth are present. This can include restaurants, hospitals, and bakeries as well as upscale urban dwellings.

Cockroach allergies can cause sneezing, wheezing, itchy eyes, cough and other symptoms common to allergic rhinitis. As in other common allergies, symptoms can range from mild to severe. But cockroach allergies may have especially dangerous health consequences to children.

One study showed that kids who were allergic to cockroaches were hospitalized for asthma 3.3 times more often than other children—including children with allergies to dust mites or cats. Twenty-three percent to 60 percent of city dwellers with asthma are allergic to cockroaches. Some researchers believe that the rise in cases of asthma among urban children is due to increased contact with cockroach allergens, especially since kids play indoors more than they used to. Proteins in cockroach feces, saliva and bodies are thought to be the major culprit in triggering allergic responses.

Cat and Dog Dander

Contrary to what you might have heard, it’s not the cat or dog’s fur that causes allergic reactions. Allergic reactions are typically caused by a protein that is found in the animal’s saliva, urine, and dander (the dead skin scales that are constantly released into the environment). These skin scales are similar to dandruff, but they’re much smaller—small enough to float in the air.

And in case you’re thinking that your non-shedding pet can’t possibly be the culprit, know that there’s no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog or cat. Allergies can occur whether your furry pet has long hair or short, or sheds a lot or a little, although a tiny dog like a Chihuahua likely produces less dander than a large dog like a Golden Retriever.

It’s not necessary for the animal to be present in order for a person’s allergies to be triggered.  Dog and other furry pet allergens can linger in a house for a year or more after the pet is gone. Allergic individuals may experience symptoms caused by dander from pets that inhabited their houses before they did, especially since dogs or cats are present in 70 percent of all households. The Family Air Care Indoor Allergens and Mold Test Kit includes tests for dog and cat dander for all home, so you can learn if these pet danders are present in high quantities or not—whether or not a pet lives with you.

Up to 10 percent of the general population, and 40 percent of people who have been diagnosed with allergies are allergic to dogs and cats. Additionally, between 20 percent and 30 percent of people with asthma also have dog or cat allergies. In fact, a recent National Institutes of Health study concluded that 30 percent of all asthma cases are attributable to cat allergies.

Anyone who has already been diagnosed with allergies to anything at all should think twice before getting a furry pet. Animal allergies can develop with exposure even in previously non-allergic individuals, taking up to 2 years to develop after the pet’s been introduced.

Cat Allergies

Cat allergies are more common—and often more severe—than dog allergies. Cats lick and groom themselves frequently. The saliva that accumulates on their fur can dry and go become airborne, causing allergic reactions when it’s inhaled. And cat dander is smaller and stickier than dog dander, so it’s easy for it to accumulate on porous surfaces.

People often unwittingly transport cat dander from place to place on coats and shoes.

Allergic individuals have been known to have allergic reactions to cats just from working with cat-owning coworkers carrying cat allergens on their clothing.

Mold

Molds are a kind of fungus, the most common found on earth. There are 1.5 million species of mold, making up 25 percent of the earth’s biomass. However, only 80 species are known to trigger allergic reactions.

Mold grows easily in most humid, warm conditions, but it also can occur in conditions that are cool and, rarely, even dry. A common name for mold found indoors is mildew. Mold spreads by way of spores, which are like tiny airborne seeds. Most mold in the home originates outdoors. Mold spores can waft in, or be carried in on clothes. Mold finds hospitable ground and colonizes in wet basements, humid crawl spaces, and anywhere leaks, high humidity or condensation are present.

The microscopic spores that mold uses to spread and reproduce are the primary culprits in mold allergies. When inhaled, they can cause respiratory allergic symptoms and, potentially, other health problems. Although mold growth isn’t a reason to panic, large areas of mold growth may require a special cleanup in order for a residence to be habitable.

Factors that Influence Amount of Mold

The amount of mold growing inside your home depends on these factors:

  • How much moisture is or was in the area
  • How long the area stayed wet
  • How much air circulates in the area to dry the moisture
  • How many times the area has been wet
  • How much sunlight comes into the area

It may is not be possible to eliminate all mold spores from your home environment. But reducing moisture can make the environment unsuitable for mold to thrive.

Health Risks of Mold

There have been a lot of recent news reports concerned with mold toxicity, linking mold to memory loss, lethargy, and even hemorrhage in infants. “Toxic mold syndrome” remains controversial and unproven, but experts agree that it’s best to limit exposure to molds.

Though rare, mold-induced infections are well known to occur, and are especially dangerous to people with weakened immune systems.

The most likely adverse reaction to mold is a respiratory allergic reaction in mold-sensitive people. These reactions are similar to other respiratory allergies, causing sneezing, watery eyes, nasal discharge and congestion.

People in certain professions may suffer disproportionately from mold allergies because of increased mold exposure. These include farmers, dairy workers, loggers, bakers, greenhouse employees and others.

Just like other allergies, mold allergies can be responsible for asthma and its potentially serious health consequences. In fact, 21 percent of current U.S. asthma cases are attributable to mold allergies. Households with a very high mold burden, as measured by the same technology used in Indoor Allergen & Mold Testing, are much more likely to have a child with asthma.

Aside from the health risks, mold can directly damage anything from a small corner of a room to an entire house. Regularly testing for mold is not only a way to protect your family’s health but also a way to protect your real estate investment.