Does Your Home Trigger Your Allergies?

Did you know that your home's age, type, and style may hold the key to your allergies? Here are some of the factors to consider when it comes to the style of your home and the allergy triggers it contains:

Older Homes

It's no surprise that older homes contain more than their share of allergy triggers. In part, this is because many years' worth of dust, mold, dander, and other home allergens can be trapped in the heating system and ductwork. In addition, older homes can be prone to leaking-which leads to troublesome mold and mildew. Often a thorough cleaning and/or some strategic renovations can address these types of older house allergies. Just beware of lead and asbestos. These substances were commonly used in past decades but today are recognized for causing serious health problems. The risks can be magnified for people with allergies and asthma, so you'll need to take extra precautions when tackling home improvement projects.

New Construction

A new house will have less in the way of dust, mold, and dander. However, modern construction materials contain many chemicals that can trigger allergy symptoms. New homes are often tightly sealed, too, which can trap home allergens in your living space. If air quality is an issue, consider putting in a good ventilation system. Also opt for natural materials instead of engineered options wherever possible to minimize its impact on your respiratory system.

Apartment Living

Researchers believe that apartment living can be to blame for many house allergies. The shared ventilation system exposes residents to tobacco smoke and animal dander from neighboring units. Secondhand smoke can also seep in through your electrical outlets, pipes, and windows, among other places. Compounding the situation is the fact that home allergens from years past can be trapped in air ducts, appliances, closets, and carpets. While you can't control your apartment's history or your neighbors' lifestyles, you can at least clean your space often and make sure that your unit has good ventilation. If this isn't enough to address your home allergies, it's probably time to look for an apartment building that prohibits smoking and pets.


You might assume that country living would be ripe with allergy triggers. In fact, being surrounded by lots of grass and trees can indeed trigger seasonal allergies. But recent studies have found that growing up in a farmhouse actually offers a protective effect against allergies and asthma. The benefit seems to stem from farmhouse dust, which contains a broader variety of bacteria and fungi than the dust of other homes. Researchers speculate that the microbes in farmhouse dust work to strengthen the immune system and prevent it from over-reacting to triggers. This means that while you'll want to take steps to keep pollen and mold from getting indoors, if you were born in the countryside and have lived there all of your life, you may have fewer allergy problems to contend with than your city-bred counterparts.

Take Control of Home Allergens

Regardless of where you live, if you notice an increase in allergy symptoms when you spend time at home, you'll need to take some strategic steps to address home allergens. These include:

  • Cleaning often and thoroughly to remove allergens.
  • Banishing pets from the bedroom.
  • Fixing leaks and wet spots to avoid mold.
  • Keeping food sealed and sweeping up crumbs to prevent insects.
  • Using a dehumidifier to keep air at optimal moisture levels.
  • Running air conditioning when outdoor allergens are high.
  • Removing clutter and wall-to-wall carpeting.

If these efforts aren't enough to keep allergies under control, your doctor or allergist can help.




Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism. "Study: Apartments Pose High Secondhand Smoke Hazards." 16 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 Sept. 2012.

Asthma Center. "Pet Allergy." Web. 8 Sept. 2012.

Omland Øyvind et al. "New-onset asthma and the effect of environment and occupation among farming and nonfarming rural subjects." The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology 128, 4 (October 2011): 761-765. Web. 8 Sept. 2012.

ScienceNordic. "The farmhouse protects against asthma and allergies." 17 Nov. 2011. Web. 8 Sept. 2012.

US Consumer Product Safety Commission. "The Inside Story: A Guide to Indoor Air Quality." N.d. Web. 12 Sept. 2012.