COLUMBUS -- As the weather warms up, many are concerned about outdoor allergies, but indoor allergens cause just as much trouble and they are around all year.
Allergy and immunology specialist Dr. Nabeel Farooqui at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center warns of a few common misconceptions about indoor allergies that can make symptoms worse.
Bedding: Many believe that down or feather bedding cause allergies, but buying hypo-allergenic down alternative products instead of down or feather bedding is not the answer.
"Synthetic materials often have looser-weave casings which can allow more dust, mold and dander to collect. That's most often what people are allergic to - not the feathers themselves," Farooqui said.
Farooqui recommends buying the most comfortable bedding material and washing it regularly in hot water to minimize dust and dander allergens.
Black Mold: Black mold, commonly described as "toxic black mold," is not actually toxic.
"There have been studies to examine the toxicity of this mold, but the evidence isn't there," Farooqui said.
Though it may not be toxic, many are still sensitive to high levels of mold spores, which worsen asthma and allergy symptoms. Farooqui says to avoid stirring up mulch, compost, or decaying leaves when outside and to identify water leaks and moisture to remove mold indoors.
Hypoallergenic Pets: Hypoallergenic pets are often the solution to erasing allergy symptoms, but this does not address the real issue.
"In short, completely hypoallergenic pets just don't exist," Farooqui said. "The allergens are in the pet's dander, which are derived from proteins in the skin, saliva, and urine. We advise people to bathe their pet regularly to reduce dander."
The solution is to keep the bedroom pet-free and use a HEPA air filter. If the symptoms persist, talk to a doctor about prescription medicine or allergy shots.
About 40 million Americans report having at least one indoor/outdoor allergy. Farooqui says it's important to see a board-certified allergist to identify your specific allergy triggers and treat the symptoms properly because the allergy may not always be caused by what you think.