Nowadays, there’s a certain kind of anti-intellectualism that’s becoming very popular. It’s the mindset of calling people with real concerns ‘hypochondriacs’. The simple truth is, however, that a lot of the illnesses we come up against in life are preventable. It’s also true that some of us, or our families, are more at risk than the average person. To people who are truly health conscious, your home can be a major risk factor. In this article, we’ll be tackling those risks and how you get around them.
The kitchen should be a place full of smiles and good, warm food. So when it turns out it’s the reason you’re sick, it can be quite a shock to the system. Most food related illnesses come down to poor preparation. Not many people are aware of all the rules. So make sure you’re keeping all utensils and surfaces as clean as possible. Don’t let dirty dishes linger. Keep raw food away from ready-to-eat food. Wash fruit and veg, even if you’re peeling them. Then pay attention to news about food as well. Food related illness can be caused just as often by contamination that is in no part your fault. If you believe some of the food you have is contaminated, then don’t take any risks. Throw it out.
Damp and mold
Perhaps the second most common concern is that of the effects of moisture in the house. Damp and mold come in different varieties and none of them are good for you. Some can be particularly dangerous to those with allergic reactions or respiratory conditions. Others can dangerous to just about anyone. They can not only exacerbate but cause problems like asthma. So you have to do everything you can to prevent the spread of damp in the house. Make sure your home is fully insulated and take a look at the outdoors to fill any gaps. Inspect your pipes for leaks from time to time. Do the same with your roof. A lot of the outbreaks of damp and mold are caused by cracked or missing tiles.
The air we breathe has a huge influence on our health. A lot of people will shut the outside away for hours on end, but that can be truly dangerous. Air needs to circulate to stay fresh and healthy. If you have those kinds of respiratory conditions were talking about, you might need to go even further. Some people need to keep their house extra clean. For those people, they might want to look into getting an air purifier. The air indoors is subject to two-to-five times more air pollution than the air outdoors. Dust, bacteria, and the like can make a huge part of the air we breathe. We take a lot of time to clean our homes, so we should be cleaning our air as well.
After some of the problems the country has faced, like in Flint, Michigan, it’s no wonder that water is on your mind. If you’re truly worried that your water might be contaminated, then filters aren’t going to be enough. Instead, you can choose to test the water in your home to make sure that it’s safe to use and drink. Water tests aren’t all that expensive (usually around $15). They check for all the most common concerns. Bacteria, lead, pesticides, pH levels, hardness, and more. These tests don’t give you all the information, however, so you might want to get your water tested at a local lab. The fact is that we have some of the cleanest water in the world in this country. But we understand that sometimes you just want to be that extra bit more certain.
When people think of homes and how they might make us sick, they think of environmental control. They think of water, the air, damp and the other things we’ve mentioned. They think about food and how to keep eating in the home safe. But not many think of their own habits. Yet, headaches, poor sleep and all kinds of problems can be caused by what you do in your home. Particularly when it comes to artificial light. A lot of us spend too much time face-to-face with computer screens and computer TVs. Without more light to contrast them, these can serious effects on mood, sleep, and headaches. Try to go an hour without artificial light before you go to bed for a proper night’s sleep.
One of the things that artificial light has a habit of doing is making you more stressed. Stress isn’t an intangible concept like some people might think. It’s a chemical state that has real physical effects. Migraines, back pain, and muscle-tightness, for instance. How you take care of your home can have a huge effect on how much you suffer the effects of stress. One of the more stressful elements of the home is clutter. If you live in a messy home, it can induce claustrophobic and disorganized feelings. As they say, a cluttered home is a cluttered mind. And that leads to more stress.
Dangers under the surface
They’re a lot less common than the risks mentioned above, but that doesn’t mean they’re worth ignoring. Particularly in older homes, you could be at a certain risk of having lead or asbestos in your home. Lead paint is usually applied to old wooden doors and can flake off and cause poisoning over a long-term. Meanwhile, asbestos is most usually in the roof sheets. If you have either, you will probably want a professional to make sure they are completely removed. Another concern is radon. Radon, when present outdoors, isn’t too much of a danger. When it comes indoors, however, it can be a much bigger concern. It can even lead to lung cancer over time. At-home radon test kits are available in most hardware stores, so it’s not too hard to get to the truth of the matter.
When you’re talking about the quality of the air, sometimes how you keep the house clean can be must as much a contaminating factor. For example, a lot of bleaches with ammonia and other irritants can be dangerous to people with respiratory conditions. Similarly, there are a lot of dangerous effects to overusing air fresheners. Just because they smell nice doesn’t mean they’re all good. Sometimes, they can alter hormone levels, numb your nerves or even cause damage to the central nervous systems. When using household chemicals, make sure you’re sparing in your use. And of course, make sure they’re always kept out of reach of children. Most poisoning accidents in the home are down to household chemicals.
Your air conditioning and ventilation set-ups help you make the air cleaner and circulated. So how can they be a respiratory hazard? The truth lies in the lack of maintenance and cleaning of them in many cases. As more air will pass through ventilation grates and air conditioners, this means that dust can also build up in them. That build-up of dust can make them less effective and dangerous to people with asthma. Similarly, moisture can build-up, leading to more damp and mold. Making sure your HVAC setup isn’t a threat is as simple as maintaining an taking care of them.
The same rules go for the fabrics that most of us look to seek comfort in. You can’t leave any of the fabrics in your home unwashed. The buildup of dust, sweat, dead skin cells and oils can prove very dangerous. So you need to make sure you have a schedule of deeply washing all your bedding. For your bed sheets, you need to wash them at least every other week. Same as your pillowcases. For the pillows themselves, they should be washed at least twice a year. If they’ve gone unwashed for more than a year, you should throw them out instead. Pillows can be a home to mold, yeast, and all kinds of bacteria. Putting you at risk of asthma, bronchitis, and more.
By now, you’ve certainly heard the old tale about how bacteria riddled your showerhead can be. That’s no mistake, nor is it a concern you should just be shrugging off. Bacteria, mold, and too much moisture is easy to build in the bathroom, as you might imagine. Wiping down surfaces with more household chemicals isn’t doing to fix things. Instead, you should take the time to replace shrinking caulk and broken tiles. Make sure your bathroom is fitted with a ceiling vent and run it for twenty minutes even after you step out of the shower. Wipe down faucets with a hydrogen peroxide solution. Swap out vinyl curtains for nylon ones. Don’t give bacteria and mold a home anywhere in your bathroom.
Illness can strike from anywhere if you let it. So the key is not to let it. If you’re worried your home is having some influence on your health, get rid of those worries with the tips above.