Those with seasonal allergies might breathe a sigh of relief when the grass and trees go dormant for the season. But unfortunately, colder weather doesn’t spell relief for everyone.
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Allergist Sandra Hong, MD, says being cooped up in the house can actually make matters worse for people with indoor allergies for three main reasons:
- Dust mites. “Dust mites can actually end up being in your pillows, your mattress, your box-springs, your carpeting,” Dr. Hong says. “And if you have a humidifier going at greater than 50 percent humidity, that will actually make dust mites grow faster so you’ll have a lot more of them.” People with dust mite allergies typically wake up in the morning feeling stuffy because they’ve been sleeping on a surface to which they’re allergic all night long. Use dust mite covers on your pillows, mattresses and box-springs and wash your linens (and stuffed animals) in hot water (over 130 degrees) and dry on hot heat.
- Molds. Molds are parasitic, tiny fungi (like Penicillium) with spores that float in the air like pollen. And they can be troublesome this time of year. Dr. Hong recommends cleaning areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and basements with a bleach solution to keep them dry and mold-free.
- Pets (sorry!) Because our pets tend to spend more time indoors with us during colder months, Dr. Hong says winter simply increases our exposure to them. Not allowing your pets in the bedroom (at all!) and keeping them in areas that aren’t carpeted can help cut down on allergy symptoms. Bathing pets weekly and brushing them outside is also beneficial, in addition to a lot of vacuuming.