Most people associate seasonal allergies, or hay fever, with the spring and fall, but winter allergy sufferers know all too well that winter brings on its own set of allergic reactions. Although many pollens may have left the air by the time of the first frost, other allergens are present, often in greater amounts.
Winter can actually be the worst time of the year for some allergy sufferers for a few reasons. Firstly, when home owners turn on heating systems that have been dormant for months, allergens that have been trapped in filters are introduced into your home environment. In addition, the furnace can stir up allergens that have been ‘resting’ in the carpet, under furniture, or on top of shelves.
An increase in the amount of time spent indoors due to inclement weather also increases exposure to these indoor pollutants. Poor air circulation and tight insulation exacerbates the problem.
The accumulation of mold on fallen leaves is another prevalent winter allergen that can incite winter allergy attacks. Pets also spend more time indoors as the weather gets colder, so the concentration of pet allergens also increases. Finally, Christmas trees can also trigger allergy attacks: live ones can harbor mold, and artificial ones collect dust, as do Christmas ornaments.
To combat winter allergies, try the following:
- Change furnace filters to keep from circulating pollutants.
- Dust surfaces, making sure to protect yourself from inhalation of allergens with the use of a face mask.
- Vacuum carpets to remove allergens. Be sure to use a vacuum with a HEPA filter; otherwise, you're simply stirring up allergens and redistributing them.
- Use air purifiers to keep indoor air fresh and free from harmful pollutants and allergens.
- Perform routine pet care to reduce pet allergens.
- Wear a mask when participating in outdoor activities such as hikes in wooded areas or gardening to avoid exposure to mold spores.
- Consider buying an artificial Christmas tree and make sure to clean old artificial trees and ornaments to ensure that they are free of dust.
Please visit Preparing for Winter – Allergy-Relief Tips for further information.