Winter Is Prime Time for Indoor Allergies
TUESDAY, Dec. 26, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- Folks with allergies might want to breathe a deep, sneeze-free sigh of relief when winter rolls around.
Unfortunately, the cold weather that puts pollen-producing trees and grass to sleep can also keep a person cooped up inside – increasing their risk of indoor allergies.
Millions of people suffer from indoor allergies caused by dust mites, household pets, cockroaches and mold, the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) said in a news release.
More than half of U.S. homes have at least six detectable allergens present, including even the cleanest homes, the AAAAI says.
But there are ways to reduce exposure to these allergens, the AAAAI says.
For example, dust mites thrive in temperatures 70 degrees or higher and humidity levels above 75%. Turning down your thermostat and using a dehumidifier can reduce their presence in your home.
The droppings left by dust mites can be reduced by encasing your bed’s mattress, box springs and pillows in special allergen-proof fabric or plastic covers. People also should wash bedding weekly in hot water and dry it in a hot dryer.
People highly allergic to dust mites should consider getting rid of any wall-to-wall carpeting, and cleaning throw rugs regularly, the AAAAI added.
People are allergic to certain proteins found in the saliva, dead skin flakes, or urine of furry animals. All dogs and cats carry these proteins, the AAAAI says.
Your best bet is to keep your pet out of the bedroom and other rooms where you spend a lot of time.
Folks also should sweep carpets regularly using a vacuum equipped with a HEPA filter, and consider getting rid of any wall-to-wall carpeting.
Cockroach droppings contain an allergen, so folks should block all cracks, crevices and windows where one of the pests might enter your home, the AAAAI says.
Similarly, fix and seal all leaky faucets and pipes to deny cockroaches the water they need to survive.
Cleanliness also is a bulwark against roaches. Keep food covered and wash all dishes after use, including pet food dishes. Vacuum and sweep the floor after meals, and use garbage cans with tight lids.
Folks also should wipe off their stove and other kitchen surfaces regularly, and clean under appliances where crumbs can gather.
People can ward off indoor mold by repairing and sealing leaky roofs or pipes, and using a dehumidifier in damp basements. Just be sure to empty the water pan and clean units regularly to prevent mildew.
Any mold that’s already grown can be removed from hard surfaces using water, detergent and a 5% bleach solution.
Folks also should avoid laying carpet on concrete or damp floors, and avoid storing items in damp parts of their homes.
Baylor College of Medicine has more on avoiding indoor allergies.
SOURCE: American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, news release, Dec. 21, 2023
What This Means for You
People can limit their exposure to indoor allergies by keeping their homes well-swept and clean at all times.