I am allergic to something in my apartment but i can't tell what!
August 31, 2010 4:54 AM   Subscribe

I am allergic to my apartment, but I don't know from what!

I just moved into a new place in New York City, and noticed that I have all sorts of allergic reactions whenever I step inside my room. I've been taking Claritin but it's wearing off quickly.

I knew that I'm allergic to dust, cats, mold, roaches, and pollens. But I've cleaned my room thoroughly, there are no cats (although there is a dog) in the house, I couldn't tell about mold and haven't seen roaches. And I've been fine outside so I don't think it's pollens.

Does anyone know if there are any hidden, hard to see allergens?

posted by atetrachordofthree to Health & Fitness (13 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Stuff can be in air ducts; that's usually what gets me when I can't see anything but still get a reaction. I assume you don't have a roommate and haven't changed soaps/perfumes (some perfumes set me off worse than entire forests.) Also, is there any chance the dog is bringing stuff in?

I can't tell from your question, if this is literally one sick room in a fine house or a larger problem. One sick room says "check air ducts, light fixtures, and wash everything in hot, hot water" to me. Bugs can be very small and mold sets me off before I can see it. Unfortunately, mold can be behind walls. You don't happen to be adjacent to a bathroom or other wet space, right?
posted by SMPA at 5:15 AM on August 31, 2010

Mold is usually hard to see.

Roach allergy (me too!) is really an allergy to frass, which is the excrement and broken exoskeleton.

Dust allergy, similarly, is to dust mites and their frass.

Advice from my ENT was: dehumidify, stop eating cheese, and keep the dust to a minimum with a good quality HEPA filter.

For symptom management, I rotate through benedryl, claritin, and whatever other antihistamine is on sale at a discount.
posted by bilabial at 5:18 AM on August 31, 2010

By hard to see, I mean absolutely invisible to the naked eye.
posted by bilabial at 5:20 AM on August 31, 2010

Response by poster: thanks guys!
this is a small room in a small-ish two bedroom apartment, but it's not next to anything wet. I think it's a "one sick room" because i don't have the same problem in other parts of the apartment, although i don't spend very much time outside of my room so I don't know for sure!

I am probably going to have to get another kind of med to rotate with claritin, because they (the 24 hour kind) are barely lasting me 12 now!
posted by atetrachordofthree at 5:33 AM on August 31, 2010

Maybe look into an air purifier, then see if you can have what gets trapped in the filters tested.
posted by samsara at 5:38 AM on August 31, 2010

Oh, and this is counter intuitive, but if you're also allergic to pollens, don't open the windows.

Run the HEPA filter all the time. For dehumidifying, you can get a product called damp rid, and/or buy a machine.
posted by bilabial at 5:39 AM on August 31, 2010

I am probably going to have to get another kind of med to rotate with claritin, because they (the 24 hour kind) are barely lasting me 12 now!

See an allergist. They can prescribe different medications that are more helpful than Claritin (like Singulair), they can test exactly what you're allergic to (so you can take appropriate mitigation measures), and they can start you on allergy shots so you don't need meds (after a few months).
posted by jrockway at 6:17 AM on August 31, 2010

I just moved to New York and have the same problem, and the girl who lived in my apartment before me says that she was "allergic to New York" for about two months when she moved here. It's pseudosciencey, but I think I might just be getting used to the pollution in the air and dust here. Cleaning and vacuuming a lot (including vacuuming my bed) seems to help somewhat.
posted by oinopaponton at 6:20 AM on August 31, 2010

Do you use an air conditioner or an fan? Fans tend to kick up everything you could possibly be allergic to and redeposit them right in your face.

A cheaper option than Claritin that (for me and others I've polled) works exactly the same (because it's the same thing): generic 10mg loratadine from any drug store. If it's not going to last you the full 24 hours, it might as well be cheap.
posted by phunniemee at 6:21 AM on August 31, 2010

When you say 'just moved in', is that within the past few days or weeks? I have some pretty bad indoor allergies and we moved into our place last week and for the first few days I was miserable because of all the dust we kicked up during the move out and move in. Things have settled down now that the dust has as well.

For mold, you can get mold test kits. I've never used them, though, so I can't vouch for them.

If you have ducts, see what you can do to clean them. If you have radiators, wipe them down with a damp cloth anywhere you can reach. If you have rugs, ditch them.

For meds, have you tried Zyrtec? That is my favorite. Claritin does nothing for me and benedryl is only good if I want to sleep for 12 hours.
posted by Jugwine at 6:33 AM on August 31, 2010

I was taking allergy pills every day until I got an air purifier; even if you're not sure what's causing it, an air purifier can make SUCH a difference. And the place smells nicer too.
posted by L'Estrange Fruit at 6:37 AM on August 31, 2010

Do you have carpet? If you're in NYC I'm guessing not, but if you do it's worth trying to find a place with hardwood floors. No matter how much you vacuum, carpets will harbor all sorts of allergens.
posted by lettersoflead at 7:01 AM on August 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

You could have Multiple Chemical Sensitivity - reacting to something under the flooring, walls or the pain itself. It's more common than thought these days. Google for more info and how to get healed from the onslaughts.
posted by watercarrier at 9:57 AM on August 31, 2010

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