Tips for Tackling Winter Allergy Triggers12/15/13
SUNDAY, Dec. 15, 2013 (HealthDay News) -- Winter can be a
difficult time for people with allergies, but they can take steps
to reduce their exposure to indoor triggers such as mold spores and
dust mites, experts say.
"During the winter, families spend more time indoors, exposing allergic individuals to allergens and irritants like dust mites, pet dander, smoke, household sprays and chemicals, and gas fumes -- any of which can make their lives miserable," Dr. William Reisacher, director of the Allergy Center at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital and Weill Cornell Medical Center in New York City, said in a hospital news release.
"With the lengthening of the pollen season over the past several years, people with seasonal allergies might find their symptoms extending even further into the winter months," Reisacher said.
People also need to look out for mold, another expert noted.
"Mold spores can cause additional problems compared to pollen allergy because mold grows anywhere and needs little more than moisture and oxygen to thrive," Dr. Rachel Miller, director of allergy and immunology at NewYork-Presbyterian/Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital, said in the news release.
"During the holiday season it is especially important to make sure that Christmas trees and holiday decorations are mold-free," she said.
Miller and Reisacher offered the following tips to help allergy
sufferers through the winter:
- Turn on the exhaust fan when showering or cooking to remove
excess humidity and odors from your home, and clean your carpets
with a HEPA vacuum to decrease dust mites and pet allergen levels.
Mopping your floors is also a good idea.
- Wash your hands often, especially after playing with pets and
when coming home from public places.
- Wash your bed linens and pajamas in hot water (above 130
degrees) to kill dust mites.
- Consider your bedroom the allergy "safe haven" of your home.
Keep pets, carpets, rugs and plants out of your bedroom to avoid
dust mites and mold from decaying plants. It is a good idea to
place an allergenic barrier around your pillows and mattress to
create a barrier between dust mites and your nose.
- Before putting up your Christmas tree, spray it with a garden
hose and remove all dust from your holiday decorations.
- Install high-efficiency furnace filters. They capture 30 times
more allergens. Also make sure your furnace fan is always on.
- Keep your indoor humidity level between 30 percent and 40
percent -- using a humidifier or dehumidifier -- to prevent mold
growth. Change humidifier water and filters according to
manufacturer recommendations to avoid mold and bacteria
- Survey your house indoors and outdoors monthly to look for
visible mold, and identify areas that are at high risk for mold
formation. Examples include a pile of firewood close to the house
or an area of the basement with a musty smell.
The U.S. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences has
allergens and irritants.
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Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.