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Winter Allergies: Your Home May Be to Blame

Winter AllergiesMany people don't associate winter with allergies, but they do persist into and through the cold months, when they pose slightly different problems than they do during other seasons.

You don't have pollens in the winter, but you still have the indoor allergens including cats, dogs, dust mites, and mold. A big problem with winter allergies is that cold-weather lifestyles can turn a simple allergic reaction into something worse.

Here are some tips to help with allergens during the winter months:

  • Wash sheets weekly in hot water — at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit — to kill dust mites, and use hypoallergenic cases for mattresses and pillows to keep dust mites trapped.
  • Use a humidifier to reduce dryness in the air. 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.
  • Avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, which provides a favorable environment for dust mites. Use area rugs instead.
  • 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.
  • Clean, dust and vacuum regularly, using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.
  • To minimize dander, bathe pets once a week (but not more often — more frequent bathing can dry out a pet's coat and skin), and keep animals out of the bedroom of anyone in the house who has allergies.
  • 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.

The winter months are approaching and if you noticed a history of allergy issues, this may be a good time to be seen by one of our doctors.

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