12m Brits could suffer 'home fever'
At least 12 million Britons could be allergic to their own homes, according to a new survey.
Allergy UK said "home fever", also known as perennial allergic rhinitis, is on the rise, with more sufferers seeking help for symptoms including a runny nose and sneezing.
A poll of 1,600 people with allergies found 58% react to house dust mites, 31% said they were allergic to mould and 45% had a pet allergy. Some 30% of sufferers are also allergic to the chemicals found in common cleaning products.
NHS figures suggest 12 million people receive allergy treatment in any one year and six million are so seriously affected they require specialist help. Hospital admissions for allergy have risen over the last two decades.
Some estimates suggest 21 million people in the UK now have some sort of allergy.
The poll for Allergy UK found 59% of indoor allergy sufferers said their symptoms are worse in the bedroom. Estimates suggest a bed can house two million house dust mites while the average pillow doubles in weight over a period of six months due to dust mite faeces.
While there is no cure for home allergies, the charity recommends people take simple steps to cut the number of allergens in their home.
These include dusting regularly with a damp duster followed by a dry cloth, washing bedding once a week at 60 degrees or higher and regularly steam-cleaning carpets and curtains. Other tips include using allergy protectors on mattresses, duvets and pillows, replacing the mattress every eight to 10 years and buying new pillows every year.
Allergy UK research suggests 16% of people wash bed sheets every three weeks or less while 58% wash bed linens between 30 or 40 degrees, which is not high enough to kill mites. It also found 13% of people have had their current mattress for 11 years or more while 25% keep pillows for five years or more.
Indoor Allergy Week runs from November 14 to 20.