Spring and summer are the seasons most closely associated with allergy symptoms, but as many allergy sufferers will tell you, winter can be just as tough. Winter allergies can be caused by dust, dust mites and mold, among other things, and even Christmas trees can trigger allergy symptoms in some people. Consider these tips to keep your home allergy-free this holiday season:
Know the symptoms. Winter allergies often go undiagnosed because the symptoms are so similar to those of the common cold. One way to tell the difference is the length of time you see symptoms. A cold typically runs its course within a week, while allergy symptoms can last, often intermittently, for several weeks. Also, chills and body aches are usually symptoms of a cold, but itchy eyes and throat are indicative of allergies.
Control dust and dust mites. Perhaps the most common cause of winter allergies, dust can be difficult to avoid, especially with dry winter air. Regular dusting and vacuuming can help, and if you have a dust allergy it’s a good idea to get rid of dust magnets like thick carpeting, upholstered furniture and heavy drapes. Regularly washing your clothes and bedding in 130-degree water can help get rid of dust mites, and maintaining a humidity level of around 35 percent creates an environment in which the air is moist enough to reduce dust somewhat and dry enough to inhibit mites.
Watch out for mold. Mold doesn’t disappear in wintertime. In fact, having your house tightly sealed can create an environment that supports mold, and it’s easy to track mold spores and mildew inside from decomposing leaves and plant matter in your yard. It’s always a good idea to take your shoes off when you come indoors, and keep your home well-ventilated to avoid the stagnant environment in which mold thrives. If you spot mold, you can scrub it off most hard surfaces with a solution of water and bleach.
- Fight Christmas allergies. Allergy sufferers face a few different challenges during the holiday season. Christmas trees often hold mold spores and pollen, which can trigger allergy symptoms, so it’s a good idea to brush off the tree before you bring it indoors. Excavating old, dusty Christmas decorations from your attic can also expose you to a lot of allergens, so consider wearing a protective face mask when you dig these items out of mothballs, and take dusty decorations outside for a cleaning before you hang them up.