If you suffer from allergies most of the summer, you probably look forward to fall and winter for a respite from the pollen that triggers your allergic responses. For the most part, pollen diminishes in fall and winter, although winter can see an uptick in pollen from ash, willow, and mulberry in our area.
However, far more common winter allergens can be found in the home. Once we close the doors in winter, unless you have a good ventilation system, it’s likely that you’ll have a buildup of some common winter allergens such as mold spores, dust mites, and pet dander.
For many people, these allergens are as irritating as pollen. Just like pollen, they can trigger allergic responses such as sneezing, sniffling, red and weepy eyes, a sore throat, and coughing. Even worse, inhaling these allergens can lead to colds and other respiratory infections. For those with asthma, the allergens can cause reactions that require medical treatment.
Let’s look at what you can do to control some common winter allergens.
- Mold. Eliminate mold by eliminating damp places. Exhaust ventilation to the outdoors can help, but you should also fix leaks in the ceiling or plumbing. Moisture is the main ingredient for encouraging mold growth, so address any problem area — such as the kitchen, the bathroom, or the HVAC condensate drain — where damp conditions prevail. Clean up moldy areas with undiluted white vinegar on hard surfaces. Bleach and water will also work. Replace wood or drywall damaged by mold.
- Dust mites. Dust mites, which are microscopic creatures that live in mattresses, rugs, and upholstered furniture, feed on dead human cells and flourish in damp conditions. Lowering humidity in the home to less than 50% can help eliminate dust mites, while washing bedding weekly in hot water is also helpful. Damp-mop hard-surface floors, and vacuum carpets and bedding with a HEPA filter.
- Pet dander. Brush your pets outdoors and bathe them regularly. Vacuum with a HEPA filter and steam-clean rugs and carpets.
An air cleaner with a HEPA filter may also be helpful.
For more on common winter allergens, contact Mowery Heating, Cooling and Plumbing.