Tips for Combating Indoor Allergies in the Winter
Excellus BlueCross BlueShield offers tips on allergy-proofing your home
You’ve shut the windows, cranked up the furnace and prepared yourself for a winter hibernation.
You’ll likely be spending a lot more quality time with your family, the pets — and indoor allergens that may leave you sneezing and congested.
“Many children and adults find that their allergy symptoms flare up in the winter months because they are spending a lot more time with indoor allergens, including dust mites, mold or pet dander,” said Robert J. Holzhauer, M.D., a board-certified allergist/immunologist and a vice president and chief medical officer at Excellus BlueCross BlueShield.
Here are some tips to allergy-proof your home. If such steps don’t work, and your symptoms persist, talk to your physician.
Keep pets out of the bedroom. Are you allergic to animals? If so, try to keep your dog or cat outdoors. If this isn’t possible, keep them out of your bedroom and away from carpeted areas. Bathe animals often and consider short-haired or non-shedding pets.
Control dust mites. These tiny bugs can be found in mattresses, pillows, cloth furniture and carpets. Battle dust mites by covering mattresses and pillows with allergy-proof covers. Wash sheets, pillow cases and blankets weekly in hot water. Vacuum often and with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter. Use blinds instead of curtains or drapes, if possible, and cut down on the number of stuffed animals in your house (or at least wash them frequently). If possible, replace carpeting with hardwood floors.
Stop mold growth. Mold grows in damp and moist areas. Prevent mold from growing by using an exhaust fan while showering; repairing water leaks in basements, inside walls and under sinks; and fixing leaking roofs or pipes. Put a dehumidifier in a damp basement, but remember to clean and change the water often.
Stop cockroaches from moving in. Cockroach droppings may trigger your allergies. To help keep them out of your house, store unrefrigerated food in closed containers; make sure your kitchen garbage is stored in a lidded can; and wipe down any area or plate where crumbs may gather. Don’t forget to keep pet food in sealed containers.
“Eliminating the source of your allergies is the most effective step in alleviating your symptoms,” Holzhauer said. “If this isn’t possible, the next best step is to keep areas such as rugs, furniture and countertops as clean as possible.”
For more information on indoor allergies, visit the following Web sites: