Winter can be a difficult time for people with allergies, but they can take steps to reduce their exposure to indoor triggers such as mold spores and dust mites by seeing a Board Certified Allergist. (Amy L. Darter,MD,FACAAI,FAAAAI JasonM.Bellak,MD)
During the winter, more time is spent indoors, exposing individuals to allergens and irritants like dust mites, pet dander, smoke, household sprays and chemicals that can make life miserable.
In Oklahoma, with the lengthening of our infamous pollen season, allergy suffers may have symptoms extending into the winter months.
During the holiday season it is especially important to make sure that Christmas trees and holiday decorations are free of mold. If you are using artificial trees and decorations make sure to dust them off before bringing them into your home.
Ten Tips to Tackle Winter Allergies
• Turn on the exhaust fan when showering or cooking to remove excess humidity and odors.
• Clean your carpets with a HEPA vacuum to decrease dust mites and pet allergen levels. Mopping floors can be very effective as well.
• Wash your hands frequently, especially after playing with the family pet to reduce exposure to pet allergens and when returning from public places to decrease transmission of common winter viruses.
• Launder your bed linens and pajamas in hot water (above 130 degrees) to kill dust mites.
• Treat your bedroom as the allergy “safe haven” of your home because this is where you may spend most of your time. Your bedroom should have the fewest allergy triggers, so keep pets, carpets, rugs, and plants out of the room to avoid dust mites and mold from decaying plants. You may also want to place an allergenic barrier around your pillows and mattress to create a barrier between dust mites and your nose.
• Spray your live Christmas tree with a garden hose before setting it up and remove all dust from your holiday decorations.
• Install high-efficiency furnace filters, which capture 30 times more allergens, and make sure your furnace fan is always on.
• Keep your indoor humidity level between 30–40 percent with the help of a humidifier or dehumidifier, to help prevent the growth of mold and mites.
• Change the water and filters in your humidifier according to manufacturer recommendations, to avoid contamination by mold and bacteria.
• Perform an indoor and outdoor survey of the house every month to look for visible mold and identify areas at high risk for mold formation, such as a pile of firewood close to the house or an area of the basement with a musty odor.