Allergic Reaction Prevention at Home

Most people learn to recognize their allergy triggers; they also learn to avoid them.

An allergy specialist (allergist) may be able to help you identify your triggers. Several different types of allergy tests are used to identify triggers.

To prevent problems with severe allergic reactions:

  • If you or your child have had a severe allergic reaction, talk to your doctor about getting a prescription for an allergy kit. Learn when and how to use it, and have it near you at all times.
  • If you have had an allergic reaction, wear a medical identification tag to alert others to your allergies.
  • If you know you have an allergy to a medicine, be sure any new doctor knows about your allergy before prescribing a medicine for you.
  • If you have had a severe allergic reaction to an insect bite or sting, avoid the insect that caused the reaction. Allergy shots may help reduce the severity of your reactions to insects.
  • Discuss allergy shots (immunotherapy) with your doctor. Allergy shots may reduce your symptoms.

To prevent seasonal or year-round allergy reactions:

  • Control exposure to outdoor allergens. Limit the time you spend outside during allergy season. This may be the best approach to controlling your symptoms. If you have a seasonal allergy:
    • During the peak of the pollen or mold season, consider taking your vacation in a place that has fewer of these substances.
    • Exercise regularly. Exercise produces adrenaline, a natural way to relieve a stuffy nose. However, exercising outdoors may also expose you to more pollen or mold spores.
  • Control exposure to indoor allergens. Newer, energy-saving homes built with double- or triple-paned windows and more insulation keep allergens as well as heat indoors.
    • Use an air conditioner or air purifier with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
    • Keep the house aired out and dry. Keep the moisture level below 50%. Use a dehumidifier during humid weather.
    • Dust and vacuum 1 to 2 times a week. Use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter, which collects dust-mite particles and pollen. Standard paper bag filters may allow the stirred-up allergens to escape back into the room.
    • Avoid carpet, upholstered furniture, and heavy drapes that collect dust. Vacuuming doesn’t pick up dust mites. Remove rugs and wall-to-wall carpeting. Talk with your family about this measure and how this will affect family life. Replace drapes and blinds with roll-down shades or washable curtains.
    • Damp mop the floor once a day. Vacuum the walls, ceiling, closet, and the backs of the furniture once a week to get rid of as much dust as you can.
    • Use baking soda, mineral oil, club soda, or vinegar to clean instead of harsher cleaning solutions that can produce allergic reactions.
    • Contact a pest control service, if necessary, to get rid of cockroaches. Cockroaches and dead insects may provoke allergic responses if you have allergic asthma.
    • Avoid tobacco smoke, smoke from wood-burning stoves, and fumes from kerosene heaters
    • Keep air registers closed if there is a pet in the house. This will reduce the amount of animal dander circulating in the house, especially in the bedroom.
    • Repair any water-damaged areas from leaking roofs or basements. These areas can be prime mold-growing areas.
  • Control exposure to animal dander. Dander, urine, and dried saliva (especially from cats, but also from small animals such as mice and gerbils) are common allergens that can be spread throughout your home by indoor pets. Hair is often not the problem. If your allergies are severe, you may want to consider finding another home for your pet. Other alternatives include the following:
    • Keep your pet out of your bedroom.
    • Bathe your pet once a week.
    • Ask a family member who does not have allergies to clean your pet’s litter box.
    • Keep a caged pet, such as a gerbil, outside your home in a garage or shed.
  • Be sure to tell your child’s school staff about his or her allergies. This is important so the school knows how to help your child if he or she has an allergic reaction.

Breast-feeding may prevent allergies. Breast-feed your baby for at least 6 months if possible to boost his or her immune system. Feeding only breast milk during the first 6 months of life may reduce the chances your child will develop food allergies or decrease the severity of your child’s allergies. For more information, see the topic Breast-Feeding.