Healthy living

Millions allergic to their own homes

Is  home fever  the new hay fever? Will 'home fever' become the new hay fever?

Up to 12 million people may be allergic to their own homes, a survey suggests.

Cases of perennial allergic rhinitis, or "home fever" are on the rise with more people seeking help with symptoms, said charity Allergy UK, which carried out the survey to mark Indoor Allergy Week (Nov 14 - 20).

The poll of 1,600 people with allergies found that 58 per cent react to house dust mites, while 45 per cent were allergic to pets and 31 per cent were allergic to mould. Some 30 per cent of the allergy sufferers reported that chemicals found in household cleaning products also triggered a reaction.

Estimates suggest that as many as 21 million people in the UK may suffer from allergies.

Nearly six out of ten of the respondents said their symptoms got worse in the bedroom. But it's been estimated that the average bed contains around two million house dust mites, and the average pillow doubles in weight over a period of six months due to dust mite faeces.

Closing doors and windows and turning the heating up during the winter months creates a breeding ground for house dust mites, Allergy UK said.

While there is no cure for the symptoms of "home fever", which include sneezing and a runny nose, there are straightforward things that people can do to reduce the amount of indoor allergens at home.

These include dusting regularly using a damp duster followed by a dry cloth; washing bedding once a week at a minimum temperature of 60°C to remove house dust mites; regularly cleaning carpets and curtains and using allergy protector coverings on mattresses, duvets and pillows.

The charity also suggests people replace their mattress every eight to ten years as research has shown that 13 per cent of people have had their current mattress for 11 years or more and buying fresh pillows every year.

Air purifiers can also help remove and reduce allergens such as pollen, house dust mite debris and mould spores, the charity said.

This article was published on Mon 14 November 2011

Image © Sebastian Kaulitzki -

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