Most people associate allergies with the warmer months of spring, summer and early fall. However, although pollen levels are significantly lower during the cold winter months, indoor allergens can lead to reactions that range from mild to severe. To prevent potentially harmful allergic reactions, Colorado Springs and Pueblo Asthma and Allergy Associates would like to share the following tips on how to prevent indoor allergies during the winter months.
One of the most important winter allergy tips is recognizing potential indoor allergens. The following substances are among the most likely to cause irritation during the winter months:
- Pet dander.
- Cigarette smoke.
- Chemicals found in cleaning products, deodorizing sprays, etc.
- Gas fumes from heating systems.
Once the sources of allergic reactions are pinpointed, taking the following steps can help in preventing recurring problems.
- Examining the home for signs of mold. Common areas for mold include those with high humidity levels, such as showers, basements, under sinks and in laundry rooms.
- Washing hands often and avoiding touching the face, where allergens can enter the eyes, mouth and nasal passages.
- Installing furnace filters. These will reduce indoor allergens by up to 30 percent.
- Using hypoallergenic pillows and mattress covers as well as allergen-free laundry detergent, cleansers and hygiene products.
- In houses that are too dry, a humidifier can be used to keep the home’s humidity level at between 30 and 40 percent. Conversely, dehumidifiers can be used in homes with high moisture levels.
- Using air filters. Air filters can prevent allergic reactions by helping to remove substances like dust, smoke and pet dander from the air.
- When pet dander is an issue, keeping pets outside is often recommended. When this isn’t possible, pets should be kept off of beds and upholstered furniture. In severe cases, pet owners with allergies may want to consider finding another home for their pets.
- Washing curtains, bedclothes, throws, etc. in hot water to kill dust mites.
- Forgoing carpets in favor of smooth flooring can drastically reduce indoor allergens. To further prevent reactions, floors should cleaned often.
- Since winter allergies are the result of being cooped up indoors, periodically opening windows to let in fresh air can help prevent reactions.
Colorado Springs and Pueblo Asthma and Allergy Associates provides full testing and treatment for allergies of all kinds. For more winter allergy tips, visit http://www.nationaljewish.org/healthinfo/conditions/allergy/lifestyle/winter-tips/.