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The Right Way to Fight Allergies

We asked Rebecca Gruchalla, PhD, professor of internal medicine and pediatrics at University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, which tricks help.

What Works

Bedding covers. Use allergy-proof zip-on covers for your mattress, box spring, and pillows to prevent dust mites from snuggling with you.

Limiting humidity. Many allergens thrive in moist environments, so use a dehumidifier or air conditioner to lower your home's humidity level.

What's Iffy

Air filters. While they can remove airborne allergens such as pet dander, they don't work on dust mites, which typically settle on surfaces.

Vacuuming. You'll just stir up allergens in the air. Invest in a vacuum fitted with a HEPA filter to trap particles.

What's a Waste

Opening windows. You're basically inviting outdoor allergens indoors. Use an air conditioner instead.

"Hypoallergenic" dogs and cats. Buying a hairless pet won't help -- dander from a pet's skin is what triggers allergies. If you already have a pet, bathe him regularly and keep him outside as much as possible.

Copyright © 2007. Reprinted with permission from the March 2007 issue of Parents magazine.