A new season is upon is and with that comes a whole new world of weather, outdoor and indoor conditions, and, of course, allergens. For many people, allergies represent a constant struggle between feeling physically capable and on top of the world and feeling under the weather and consistently less than 100%. They can be a pain; they can be a burden; and as we change from the warm months to the cold, they start to change as well.
But with the right knowledge, preparation, and habit, you can minimize your risk for being overrun by allergy symptoms and make sure that, at least in your own home, you are free of the symptoms of allergies that plague so many during these times of lowered temperatures and lowered immune systems. This tips will follow through on a number of topics related to fall and winter allergies including what allergens are present and common during these months, the symptoms that may let you know you’re around them, and strategies and habits for reducing the population of these allergens in your own home so you can be as healthy and content as possible.
Fall and Winter Allergens
Many people fallaciously believe that the colder it gets, the more allergens disappear and die off. Heating systems get turned on and less worry is put forth towards the triggers in the air that cause people so much stress during the hot summer months. But the truth is that’s just not the case. Fall and winter often have their own host of allergy inducing problems many of which can be just as common as summer allergens.
Dust mites, for example, are ubiquitous throughout the season. They do perfectly well in all the temperatures that we experience. Microscopic, allergy symptom-inducing dust mites tend to lurk in bedding, mattresses, carpets, and upholstered furniture. Anything soft and artificial is going to be a potential home to these allergy inducing critters. Contrary to popular belief though, it isn’t the dust mites themselves that trigger the allergies. Rather, when their droppings and remains become airborne, these things can in turn cause allergy symptoms.
Mold is a common problem in the summer, especially because this is a time of very high humidity. And it doesn’t help that our air conditioners often have the effect of raising humidity levels even higher. That’s why it is often recommended to employ a dehumidifier during the warmer months especially in climates as naturally humid as ours. But that doesn’t mean one doesn’t have to worry about mold during the fall or winter. Mold can hide in many places in the home, including under carpets, on ceiling tiles, in showers, and behind wallpaper, dry wall, or paneling. When mold grows outdoors, it grows in dark, wooded areas, so thoroughly inspect any firewood you plan to bring into your home if you like to make use of a fireplace during the colder months. And, as much as you may want to jump in that leaf pile, to satisfy your autumn glee, remember that leaf piles are a breeding ground for mold.
Animal dander is another one of those yearlong allergy inducing threats. As much as we all love our pets, many of us also have to be wary of the dander they are home to that can cause us much misery if not well contained and dealt with. All warm blooded pets have dead skin cells that are commonly referred to as dander. Many people have some level of allergic weakness to this dander. Add this to the fact that during the colder months many people spend and increased amount of time indoors with their pets and you’ve got a recipe for allergy suffering.
An allergy trigger that is unique to the colder months is irritating smoke and the things it can carry when firewood is burned. Many people like to make use of fireplace during the late fall and winter to both help warm their home and take some of the work off their furnaces and boilers and to increase the ambience and fall-like pleasure of a relaxing night at home. What many people don’t know is that firewood brought into the home can contain mold spores. Wood burned in a fireplace can release irritating smoke and other airborne pollutants into the home environment, potentially causing allergic rhinitis or asthma symptoms.
The reason you might see an increase of allergy symptoms during the fall and winter is two-fold. One fact is that many people spend more time indoors as the weather gets colder; this means that people experience an increase in allergy flare-ups due to dust mites, mold, pet dander, and other common indoor allergens. This only makes sense as the more time spend indoors, especially if you have pets that are going to indoors more often with you, the more you’re going to be exposed to indoor allergens. And since we keep our windows and doors tightly shut during these colder times, these indoor allergens are going to have more time to build up in your home.
So, let’s go over some of the more common symptoms of allergens in the home so you can get an idea of whether those little bodily issues you’re experiencing are in fact the result of indoor allergens. Of course, none of this information should be used in place of the advice and knowledge of your local physician. Coughing is a common symptom, as is signs of congestion, such as runny or stuffy nose. Watery eyes and sneezing also can often be symptoms of allergies. Itching also may accompany allegories, especially of the eyes and nose. And often with itchy eyes comes watery eyes as well.
In addition to allergy symptoms, there are also symptoms unique to the colder months that come from the lowered humidity that we experience. The colder season tends to lead to lowered humidity in general, but when you add in the use of heaters day to day, you get even lower humidity levels in the home especially. And just as high humidity can cause an increase in certain types of allergens such as mold, low humidity comes with its own host of problems. Dryness in the air can cause a number of symptoms such as dry and irritated sinuses, an increased risk of bloody noses, irritated throats, itchy skin, cracked and dry lips, and aggravated respiratory aliments.
It only further complicates this thing that we often experience a greater number of colds during the fall and winter and the common cold often elicits symptoms that are very similar to those of dry weather and fall and winter allergens. Many people treat their symptoms thinking that they just have to wait their cold out when in fact they don’t have a cold at all, and won’t reach relief until they find a way to reduce the amount of allergens they are being exposed to. That’s why the following section will go over ways you can reduce the amount of allergens in your home during the fall and winter.
Preventing Allergies in the Fall
Air purifiers and humidifiers are both great little devices for battling fall and winter allergen symptoms. The air purifier will do as its name suggests and purify your air, sucking air in through its intake vent, catching as many pollutants as it can, and spitting out cleaner air through its outtake vent. By adding an air purifier to your home, you're able to combat a wide variety of airborne irritants, including dust, dust mites, pet dander, and mold. Plus, air purifiers improve the quality of your indoor air year-round! For those with severe allergies, asthma, or chemical sensitivities, there are even air purifiers that remove mold, bacteria, and odors.
A humidifier will help you battle the effects that your heater worsens by drying out the air in your home. It is inevitable that whenever you heat up air, it becomes dryer. As much as we like heating systems for providing us with warmth during the cold season, it does become an issue when this warmth is accompanied by overly dry air. A humidifier can help you maintain proper levels of relative humidity in your home. This way you can make sure that your nasal passages are getting the moisture they need to naturally get rid of any allergens you’re breathing in. Another benefit of humidifiers is that they help prevent itchy, dry skin, as well as alleviate or prevent many of the cold-like symptoms associated with common respiratory problems.
There are many other ways you can tackle allergy problems that reside in your home. If you have pets, for example, you can bathe them regularly, say, once a week, to make sure the buildup of dander in the fur is limited as much as possible. It is also a good idea to keep animals outside of your bedroom. As much as you may enjoy having your dog or cat beside you as you sleep, for those with sensitivity to pet dander, this is about the worst possible thing you can do for your allergies.
Also make sure to dust and vacuum regularly. Using high-efficiency HEPA filters in your vacuum will further increase their effectiveness. Dust proof mattresses and covers can be helpful ways of keeping dust mites out of your bed. Because fallen leaves are often breeding grounds for mold, stay on top of the leaves in your yard this fall. Rake them off your lawn and keep them out of your gutter if you want to reduce the chance of a mold infestation in your front and back yard.
Allergy Reduction and Heating Repair
It is a matter of fact that the fall and winter months can carry with them their own allergy inducing problems but luckily there are ways of dealing with these problems. From diligent dusting and vacuuming to making sure your house is succumbing to excessive dryness due to your furnace doing its thing, you can engage in a number of habits and precautions to make sure your fall and winter go as smoothly and allergy free as possible.
Some allergens can be exasperated by a heater that is malfunctioning in some way. If you are ever experiencing problems with your heater and need heater repair, call on ADE Heating and Cooling. Our trained technicians are proficient in dealing with all kinds of heaters, from furnaces and boilers to heat pumps and beyond!
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