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A woman sneezing into a tissue

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA), one in five Americans suffers from allergies. Allergy is actually the fifth leading chronic disease nationwide.

The most common type of allergy is allergic rhinitis, which is an allergy to airborne particles, such as dust, dander, and plant pollen.

As warmer weather settles in, allergy sufferers are wondering how they can best avoid all the coughing and sneezing and general misery. The simple tips below can help you better control your environment by allergy-proofing your home. And less allergens at home can help you better control all that sneezing.

Get tested.

Going to an allergist and getting skin tests will determine what specific allergens you’re more susceptible to and the best treatment options. Also remember that if you have questions about your allergies, or your symptoms seem to be getting worse, don’t hesitate to talk to your doctor.

Remove your shoes at the door.

As soon as you’re through the door, kick those shoes off. This small change will prevent you from tracking in dirt and other irritants—like, pesticides, mold, pollen, oil residues from the roads, and E. coli bacteria from pet droppings.

Close your windows.

Leaving the window open for a few hours is sort of like extending an open invitation to all the pollen on your block.

Rethink your shower curtain.

If you’re using a vinyl or PVC shower curtain in your bath, swap it for a fabric option made of nylon for as little as $10. Nylon beats vinyl because the material is less inviting to mold, and contains fewer of other types of harmful materials. Nylon shower curtains are also easy to keep clean—just take it down and throw it in the washing machine.

Replace air filters.

If you live in a home or apartment with an HVAC system, it’s important to change out the filter every one to three months to make sure the allergens aren’t entering your home. Experts say that taking this step can help reduce the amount of pollen in your home by 90 percent.

Cool your home off.

Dust mites and mold thrive in the heat and humidity. The Mayo Clinic recommends setting your home thermostat at 70 degrees and use dehumidifiers to keep relative humidity no higher than 50 percent.

Take a shower.

When you’re outside for a long period of time, pollen and other allergens can collect on your skin. Thorough washing prevents them from spreading all around your home. Make sure to wash your clothes as well.

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