Winter Allergy Tips
Even though freezing temperatures bring an end to seasonal pollen allergies, millions of people are living with winter allergies because of the time spent indoors during cool weather. A home can actually contribute to sickness due to winter allergens.
Forced-air furnaces circulate airborne dust containing lint, fabric fiber, bacteria, food material and animal dander. Three of the most common allergens - house dust mites, animal dander and cockroach droppings - are worse in winter when there is less ventilation.
Some common symptoms of indoor, winter allergies are sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, coughing, postnasal drip, and itchy eyes, nose and throat.
In arid climates such as Denver, there are very low levels of dust mite allergen due to the lack of relative humidity, which is necessary for dust mite survival. In these areas, the predominant winter indoor allergen is either animal dander or cockroach allergen.
Steps to Minimize Indoor Allergen Exposure
- Keep humidity below 40 percent in the home to reduce dust mites.
- Remove wall-to-wall carpet, especially carpet over concrete. (Dampness can accumulate between the concrete and pad/carpet, creating an environment for dust mites and mold).
- Good insulation can help cut down on mold by reducing condensation on cold surfaces, and drying wet surfaces can keep mold from growing.
- Wash bedding in hot water (at least 130° F) once a week to reduce the mite load in the bedding.
- Encase pillows and mattresses in impermeable covers again to reduce exposure of dust mite allergen.
- Avoid down pillows and comforters which form a nice habitat for dust mites and can, in and of themselves, be allergenic.
- Clean regularly and use a damp mop for cleaning hard floors to avoid stirring up dust.
- If you are the one who is suffering during the winter months, have someone else in your house do the dusting and vacuuming. If you can, leave the house while the cleaning is being done.
- You may find it helps to open a window or door on warmer days. Especially try to air out your house right after cleaning so the allergens and dust you've kicked up have a place to escape.
- Minimize contact with pets, and keep them out of the bedrooms to reduce the amount of allergen in the room.
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