Many of my patients with sinus problems have underlying allergies to dust, mold, animal danders and other indoor allergens.
Since the first principle of treating allergies is to avoid the allergens as much as possible, or remove them, many doctors recommend a goodhigh effiiciency particulate air filter. Unfortunately, these are very expensive, running upwards of $100 dollars and as high as $300 for some models.
I recommend a very simple solution for those that don’t want to spend that much. And I have pictured it below. Here’s all you need to do.
Buy a 20 inch box fan, preferbly with variable (usually 3) speeds, from any hardware store–large or small. They cost around $12-$14 .
Then buy a HEPA filter that is the same size: 20 inches by 20 inches by 1 inch thick. You don’t need a 4 inch one. They are too expensive.
You will want a HEPA filter that is rated at least an 8, but no higher than a 13 MERV rating. The higher the rating, the finer the particle size that will be filtered. But the higher the rating, then slower the airflow will be as well. I reommend a filter between 8 and 11 or so. That should cost about $10-11.
Simply attach the filter to the “air intake” side of the fan. Use a large rubber band, or a couple of pieces of any sort of tape. Duct tape works great, but it may leave a residue on the fan.
Make sure you orient the filter properly, so the arrows on the filter that demark the airflow direction are matching the air flow.
There have been some people who advocate for the commercial air filters with custom sized (expensive) HEPA filters. One argument is that these filters have slow fans that don’t kick up dust particles. Or that they don’t have any leaks around the filter. Those are both true.
If blowing up dust is a concern for you, then put this system on a timer (also inexpensive at hardware store) and have it turn on after you leave your room in the morning and turn off an hour before you come home. That should minimize the dust that might be stirred by the airflow. Alternatively, you can turn the fan to low.
You can tell when its time to change the filter by the color of the filter. In the second photo you can see a new filter that is pur white, with an older filter, yellow from all the debris caught in the filter. Definitely change the fil
ter before it gets this dirty.
If you are looking for a really expensive air filtration and purification system, with all the bells and whistles, I will write about that later (assuming I hear from a couple of readers).
I hope you find this useful.
Jeffrey E. Terrell, MD
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