I rarely watch television (I prefer online media), but when I do watch TV, one of my favorite shows is House M.D. Dr. House always considers all potential causes of illness, including environmental factors. In fact, in several episodes, the maverick diagnostician sends his interns to break into the homes of sick patients.
While I appreciate Dr. House’s efforts, I wouldn’t want a bunch of 20-somethings dressed in white coats breaking into my home! Thankfully, US News and World Report offers an alternative: take photos of your home to show your doctor.
In a new study, doctors gave disposable cameras to their allergic patients and asked them to photograph certain areas of their homes such as the kitchen, bathroom, bedroom, dining room, and basement.
“A lot of the time, if you do a thorough history with a patient and ask about exposure to mold and dust in the home, they may say no, and it’s because they don’t recognize what that is,” says lead author Rita Mangold.
Dr. LeRoy Graham of Atlanta agrees: “I think that anything that enhances the patients’ participation in their own care and identifies potential triggers in the home environment is beneficial. Oftentimes it’s not very easy for doctors to discern all the triggers.”
Best of all, it costs only about $12 to get a disposable camera and develop the photos, whereas a professional environmental assessment would cost around $400.
Next time you visit an allergist, you may want to ask if he or she would like to see photos of your home environment. (If you do take photos, don’t clean your house beforehand! Show your environment in its natural state.)
You can also guard against allergen build-up in trouble spots with the following:
Dust mite covers will keep dust mites out of your mattress and pillows.
Dehumidifiers keep your home’s humidity low so that mold cannot grow.