No Hibernation For Allergies
People tend to think of allergies as springtime and autumn visitors. But the truth is that allergies can strike at any time. At any rate, they sure don't go into hibernation over the cold winter months.
When the weather turns cold, people start spending more time indoors. This is the source of winter allergies, which are caused by indoor allergens. Allergy-causing factors include pet dander, mold, and dust mites. Another allergen that can cause winter allergies is the smoke issued from fireplaces. A full 10% of the population is affected by these allergy triggers every winter.
Because so many people catch the common cold during the winter months, lots of people mistakenly attribute winter allergy symptoms to the common cold. But there is a way to differentiate them. Colds only last a week or so. They come with coughing and fatigue.
But allergy symptoms persist and include a runny nose with clear or watery secretions, plus an itchy throat and eyes. The main allergy tip-offs are in the duration of the symptoms and the itchiness in the throat and eyes. Another good clue is the presence of symptoms that worsen when the sufferer spends time indoors.
Here are some tips on how to minimize your exposure to winter allergens:
*Regular Cleaning—No guidelines have ever been issued as to how often one should dust and vacuum a home, but one really thorough cleaning per week should make a big difference in terms of reducing allergen levels. Damp-mopping is a dust-free technique for cleaning hard floors.
*Minimize Exposure—If you suffer from winter allergies, get someone else to do the cleaning. As you vacuum and dust, you're spreading allergens through the air. In fact, leave the house while that other someone is doing the cleaning.
*Open Windows—Any time you get a lucky spate of warm weather, open those windows. It's best to crack a window open just after cleaning so the allergens that have been released into the air have an escape route.
*Watch For Mold—Anywhere you've got moisture, you've got a potential for mold growth. Mold is an irritant in some allergy sufferers so you'll want to be vigilant. You can avoid mold by making sure you have good insulation which can reduce the condensation that can occur where dampness meets cold surfaces. If you have a ventilation fan in your bathroom, use it, or crack open a window while you shower. If you do find mold, clean with soap and water, then treat with bleach diluted with water.