ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, IL (November 26, 2018) – When temperatures get below freezing, people with seasonal allergies to grass, tree and weed pollens get well-deserved relief from their symptoms. But if you’re still sneezing and blowing your nose when winter descends, you might have indoor allergies.
The problem for many allergy sufferers is figuring out what, exactly, is causing their symptoms. “Most allergy sufferers develop similar symptoms no matter what allergen they’re reacting to,” says allergist Todd Mahr, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). “When you have a stuffy or runny nose, itchy, watery eyes or sneezing and coughing you know you’re probably allergic to something. And if it’s serious enough to prompt a trip to the doctor for relief, see an allergist.”
Here are some common causes of winter, indoor allergies and tips from ACAAI on what you can do about them:
Dust mite allergy: Dust mites are one of the most common indoor allergens and a year-round annoyance. Those allergic to dust mites suffer most in their own homes. Often, you’ll notice your symptoms immediately after vacuuming, sweeping or dusting, when you’ve stirred up dust. Molds, pollen, pet hair, fur or feathers can also contribute to a dust allergy.
You can lessen or avoid your symptoms by removing items that cause dust allergies. Choose wood floors instead of carpet, clean your house with a vacuum that has a HEPA filter, use mite-proof cases on your mattresses and pillows and wash your linens regularly in hot water. Consider installing a high-efficiency disposable filter in your HVAC system. The filter should have a MERV (minimum efficiency reporting value) rating of 11 to 13 — the higher the MERV rating the better.
Mold allergy: Molds live inside and outside your home. They thrive in moist places like bathrooms and kitchens, and unfortunately, many molds aren’t visible to the naked eye. As the spores become airborne, they can cause allergic reactions and worsen asthma symptoms.
Wear a mask when doing yard work, and once inside, take a shower and rinse your nose with a saline solution to remove mold spores. In the kitchen, clean up any spills or leaks quickly to prevent mold from growing. Use a dehumidifier to reduce moisture in areas like bathrooms and basements. Clean your garbage cans and fridge drawers. For serious mold problems, call a professional.
Pet allergy: It’s a heartbreaking situation for pet lovers if they have allergy symptoms after being with their pets. Allergy symptoms can be constant because exposure can occur anywhere — in pet-friendly workplaces, restaurants and stores, at school, in daycare, anywhere a pet owner has been.
Avoidance is the best way to manage a pet allergy, but you don’t have to part with your furry family members. Keep your pet out of your bedroom, wash your hands with soap and water after petting or playing with your pet, vacuum with a HEPA vacuum and bath your pet once a week.
Once you know the cause of your symptoms, you can take control of your allergies and asthma and start enjoying life again. To find an allergist in your area, use the Allergist Locator tool on the ACAAI website.