If you have allergies, you know firsthand how miserable they can make your life. You feel tired much of the time, your eyes itch and water and your throat feels like you are fighting a perpetual cold. Oh, and let’s not forget the constant runny nose and sneezing!
What’s even more frustrating is not understanding what is happening inside your body. How can something so (seemingly) harmless as dust, tree pollen or your neighbor’s cat make you feel so awful?
Well, the truth is, those things actually are harmless, to most people anyway. What’s really causing your allergic reaction is your own immune system. People with allergies have overactive immune systems that look at everything in the environment as a potential serious threat, so they send out constant alerts to attack the “invaders.” It’s a bit like having a dog that doesn’t just bark at intruders, but barks at the sound of the wind, barks at his own reflection, and barks at the laundry basket.
You can take your dog to obedience classes to get him to behave. Unfortunately, it’s not always easy getting your immune system to behave.
Dealing with Allergies
When it comes to allergies there are usually a few common approaches to dealing with them:
- OTC or RX Medications – Over the counter or prescription antihistamines and decongestants can alleviate some of the symptoms. Unfortunately, these can be a little pricey and sometimes come with nasty side effects, like feeling drowsy.
- Allergy shots – Some people opt to get a series of allergy shots in the hopes that their allergies will eventually be 100% gone. While shots do work for some people, they are costly, painful, and often take years before a maintenance dose can be administered.
- Allery air filters – And finally, many people choose to keep the air inside their home and office as allergy free as possible by using a quality air purifier.
Allergy Air Purifiers – How They Work
Air purifiers are not a new invention. They have actually been around for over 100 years, starting out as protective masks for firemen. Of course these days, air purifiers are more evolved and everyone can use them to clean the airborne pollutants lurking inside their home.
When you look around your house, you might see some dust particles hanging in the air, if the light hits them just right, but otherwise, all looks clean. But chances are, all isn’t clean because most of the things that our immune system reacts to are microscopic and can’t be seen with the naked eye. Allergens like pollen, bacteria, mold spores, viruses, pet dander and toxic VOCs are so tiny we can’t see them, but we sure can feel the physical effects of them.
Air purifiers suck in the environmental air, clean out the impurities, then release the filtered air back out into the room. They do this 24-hours a day non-stop so you and your family can breathe easier.
It’s important to mention that not all air purifiers are created equal, and if you’re in the market for an air purifier that will help alleviate your allergy symptoms, then it’s important to purchase an air purifier that uses a HEPA filtration system.
Why HEPA Matters
You’ve no doubt heard of HEPA filters before but are maybe wondering what’s so great about them or why it’s important your air purifier uses one. HEPA stands for High Efficiency Particulate Air, which is essentially talking about the microscopic particles that are floating around in the air. Many of these particles are so small that ordinary air filters cannot trap them.
But HEPA filters are considered the gold standard because they are guaranteed to trap 99.97% of airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns. That’s really small, in fact one micron is equal to 1/25,400 of an inch.
To give you a clearer example of size, the period at the end of this sentence is approximately 400 microns in size. Pollen grains are 30 microns, dust mite waste particles are about 20 microns, and cat allergen particles vary from about 1 to 20 microns in size.
In other words, most bacteria, viruses and damaging pollutants are so small that only a HEPA filtration system will remove them from the air. The more times the air passes through the HEPA filter, the cleaner the air inside your home becomes.
Air Purifiers for Allergies - Some Best Practices
When it comes to choosing the best air purifier for allergies, without question you must choose one that offers a robust HEPA filtration system, as we’ve just mentioned. But beyond this feature, there are other considerations to keep in mind to ensure your air purifier does the job you intend it to do.
Choose the Right Size Unit
When you begin shopping for air purifiers, one of the first things you will notice is that they will have the room size for which they are recommended. This recommendation is based on the unit’s ability to provide five to six air exchanges per hour in a room of that size. This comes to about a 70% reduction in particle reduction an hour. A larger unit in the same size room could deliver eight or more air exchanges per hour, thereby decreasing the particle levels by up to 90% or more.
The moral of the story here is… size matters. To clean your room’s air properly, make sure you get a unit that can handle the space.
There are some allergy air purifiers on the market that blow the cleaned air downwards onto the floor. Tests have found that this design is not optimal, as the clean air blows dust and other allergens from the floor into the air. Look for purifiers that blow the cleaned air up or out.
Location, Location, Location
It’s not just in real estate that location matters. It makes a big difference to efficiency where you place your air purifier in your home. If you want to optimize its performance, place your purifier in the rooms you spend the most time in. Bedrooms and offices, followed by living rooms and kitchens, tend to be the spaces where people spend the majority of their time.
You also want to ensure you do not accidentally block any air flow, so do not set your purifier right against a wall, curtains, or furniture. Make sure it is out in the open a bit so air can easily flow in and out.
Keep it Running
These days, most units are energy efficient, so you don’t have to worry about a huge jump in your electric bill. Very similar to how an AC unit works more efficiently when left on, your air purifier should not be turned off. You want the air to be continually cleaned whether you’re at home or not.
Keep Your Doors and Windows Closed
Remember when your mother would yell at you to shut the door because you were letting all of the cold or hot air inside? The same idea applies with an air purifier. To keep the air inside your home as clean and healthy as possible, you’ll want to make sure to keep outside air from coming inside as much as possible.
Change Your Filters Often
Your air purifier can only clean the air when the filter itself is nice and clean. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for maintaining your unit. Generally speaking, HEPA and carbon filters should be changed annually and filters that are washable can be cleaned every 10 – 14 days. Remember, those filters are what are cleaning your air, so keeping them clean is essential.
Living with allergies is pretty awful. Luckily there are air purifiers on the market that can help you breathe much easier.Shop for allergy air purifiers.