In this article, let’s take a closer look at what allergens are, the different types of allergies they cause, and how an air purifier can help you against the annoying symptoms.
What are allergens?
The small and sometimes invisible allergens in the air are called inhalant allergens and are known to make life difficult for allergy sufferers by triggering various respiratory symptoms. Sources of these inhalation allergens are found indoors all year round due to house dust mites, pets or moulds. However, a larger proportion of affected people suffer from the seasonal occurrence of pollen, which mainly occurs between March and July.
Which are the most common allergens?
1. House dust
House dust occurs in many households and finally catches the eye when it drastically accumulates in the home. Consisting of many microscopically small particles such as skin flakes, the remains of microorganisms, fibres, bacteria, fine dust and mites; dust accumulations indoors can hardly be prevented. The size of house dust particles can vary greatly depending on their composition and can be as small as 10-0.1 micrometres. A grain of sand, for comparison, has an average size of 90 micrometres. The trigger for an allergy is mainly the excrement of house dust mites, as the protein found in it activates an overreaction in the human body. Since microscopic animals live mainly in a warm and humid environment, they prefer bedding, carpets or furniture in order to spread. You should therefore also be careful with humidifiers, which can create a more pleasant climate for the mites and thus promote their growth. Although the symptoms of a house dust allergy are less severe than those of a pollen allergy, they tend to occur all year round. A runny nose and frequent sneezing are the mildest symptoms, but watery or itchy eyes can develop too. Asthmatic symptoms such as shortness of breath or coughing are also not uncommon. In addition to that, feelings of listlessness or tiredness can run through the day and make everyday life more difficult.
In several living spaces, mould and its spores are found on damp walls, window frames and gaps. Since mould can spread quickly indoors by releasing spores, it is important to act as quickly as possible. Even though mould spores can vary greatly in size and shape, spores with a size of 3-10 micrometres are mainly responsible for triggering allergic reactions. Typical places where moulds develop are cellars, damp walls and bathrooms, as well as old upholstered furniture or humidifiers. Complaints and symptoms usually manifest in the form of respiratory tract stress. While milder symptoms manifest as a blocked, itchy nose or coughing and shortness of breath. In the long term, it can trigger attacks of neurodermatitis or skin rashes. And to make matters worse, it can also cause an existing asthma disease to worsen.
3. Pet allergens
Pets are also considered allergen sources when they spread their hair or feathers around the house. Most pet allergies are caused by proteins in the saliva, sweat or dander of animals. Small particles that your dog or cat produces when scratching or shaking can stick to dust particles in your indoor air for a long time and quickly trigger allergic reactions. Cats in particular are considered allergy triggers, as their allergy-triggering particles have particularly good floating properties, and can therefore also be carried to places that are actually cat-free. Allergy sufferers often react with watery eyes or asthma symptoms, although the concentration needed to trigger an allergy varies from person to person. If a person is exposed to a long-term strain, lung function can also suffer and become reduced.
Pollen can come in many different shapes and sizes. While larger pollen grains are mainly transported by insects, smaller pollen is spread by the wind, where it can sometimes travel several hundred kilometres. However, even though there are large amounts of different types of pollen in the air, only pollen from wind-pollinated plants with a size of 60 micrometres are considered allergy triggers. Typical allergy symptoms are reddened eyes, rhinitis or sneezing fits. Many allergy sufferers feel tired during the pollen season and have difficulty concentrating. People usually suffer to different degrees depending on the severity of the allergy and the flowering time of the plant allergen. There are three main types of pollen that cause annoying symptoms for people from March to September:
a) Tree Pollen
- Spring (February-May)
- Common trees that contribute to allergy symptoms include oak, poplar, birch, maple, sycamore, ash, elm, hickory, walnut, beech, and mulberry
b) Grass Pollen
- Summer (May-June)
- Some common grass pollens are Kentucky bluegrass, Bermuda, redtop, orchard and timothy
c) Weed Pollen
- Late summer (July-September)
- Common weeds that produce pollen allergens include plantain, goose cinquefoil, Russian thistle, yellow dock, sorrel, fire brush, burdock ragwort and marsh spurge
Download Pollen Calendar
Prepare yourself for the pollen count. Our pollen calendar reminds you when pine, birch, grass and mugwort fly. Download it and keep it on your phone to always be ahead of the allergy season. By using Breezometer’s pollen map there is no more guesswork. You can check pollen levels at their specific location even based on particular sensitivities.
Are Air purifiers a solution against annoying allergy symptoms?
Air purifiers are a helpful solution to combat allergy symptoms and thus make life more pleasant for many people. Air purifiers help avoid the triggers of an allergy by creating an environment that is as free of pollen and house dust as possible. To keep allergy symptoms to a minimum, an air purifier enables the collection of house dust on which the small mites feed, thus keeping their numbers low.
Pollen, which causes severe hay fever for many people for several months, enters the home through windows or door gaps or is carried in through clothing. Together with house dust or animal hair, a large number of allergens can quickly accumulate in your household. Thanks to an air purifier, however, you can filter the particles in the air and thus guarantee yourself the cleanest possible air. This alleviates many allergy symptoms, which allows you to live more comfortably in your home, not only in the spring and summer months but also all year round.
Air purifier as ideal support in the home office
Good air quality has rarely been in such demand as it is today. We spend more than 90% of our time at home, we also work and practice sports within our own four walls. Indoor air is becoming increasingly important for our health. As we take in up to 15 kilograms of air per day, humans themselves become filters for small dust particles and pollutants. This can sometimes have a strong impact on the ability to concentrate and also on performance, which is more significant now than ever, especially in times of pandemics. In such a scenario, air purifiers help to guarantee almost clinically clean air and thus create the best conditions for a productive everyday life.
What types of air purifiers are best for allergies?
Allergy sufferers who are interested in an air purifier primarily to combat their annoying symptoms should inform themselves sufficiently before buying. What many people do not know is that there are different air purifiers depending on their needs, which can provide better or worse results. For mild allergy sufferers, air purifiers that include a HEPA filter are an effective way to keep the air clean of most allergens such as pollen or pet hair. However, for particles smaller than 0.3 micrometres, even HEPA technology reaches its limits.
Ionisers, on the other hand, are able to filter even the smallest fine dust particles due to their filter technology by attaching themselves to charged ions and thus filtering them out of the air. However, this effective method involves a high production of ozone, which can be harmful to health in high concentrations. Unpleasant ozone odours can be perceived at low concentrations too, which particularly sensitive people might find uncomfortable. Allergy sufferers are therefore more sensitive to ozone.
Air purifiers with a plasma filter offer a good alternative here. Thanks to the filter technology, which is still not very widespread but very effective nevertheless, even the smallest particles can be filtered out of the air in addition to larger allergens. This means that you no longer have to worry about the quality of your air at home. Since no harmful ozone is produced, allergy sufferers do not have to worry either.
In order for allergy sufferers to sleep comfortably at night and wake up fully recovered, it is recommended to run air purifiers on a low setting at night. To prevent your energy costs from rising, you should also consider the energy consumption of the air purifier when buying it. To ensure that continuous use does not become unpleasant due to annoying noises, especially at night, the noise level of your air purifier also plays a decisive role, which you should pay attention to before your purchase.
Take a look at our post on ”The Best Air Purifier 2021′‘, where many different types of air purifiers are compared according to certain criteria and you can find the best air purifier for yourself.
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Where should I place my air purifier for the greatest success?
In general, you should place your air purifier where you or your family spend the most time and thus breathe the most air. It should be noted, however, that rooms where cooking takes place produce a significantly larger amount of pollutants, which is why the use of an air purifier is also strongly recommended here. In addition, it is also important to create good air quality in the place where you work from home or practice sports in order to benefit from increased concentration or performance. Therefore, it is not possible to name the perfect place for an air purifier. Since you need to decide for yourself where to place your air purifier and should also have the option to be able to move it from room to room, make sure that you have a device that is as mobile as possible, which is easy to transport and can be placed anywhere without any problems. Ideally, you can even take it with you on your travels to supply fresh air everywhere.
In summary, air purifiers are a very useful solution for all people, but especially for allergy sufferers, to eliminate symptoms by filtering triggers from the air. In times when people spend a lot of time at home, measures should be taken to make life as pleasant and healthy as possible in order to increase your own well-being and performance. For this to succeed, you should not act rashly when buying an air purifier but instead inform yourself sufficiently.