How to Get Your Home Ready for Healthy Indoor Winter Living
With winter and colder temperatures around the corner, it’s important to make sure you’re prepared — especially in the age of remote work. Here are some tips to help allergy-proof your home — and how you can check in with your body to maintain a clean bill of health.
Longer Times Inside Might Come with a Surprise
Nowadays, we spend much more time at home working, learning and socializing. Cold weather means even more time spent inside our homes. This increases the time we are exposed to allergic triggers that may be in our homes. Also, closing up the house for cold weather concentrates the triggers inside. Since spending more time in a closed up house, you might notice that your eyes get itchy and red every time the cat walks into the room, or maybe your nose gets stuffy shortly after the heating system kicks on. Experiencing these symptoms now is the consequence of being exposed to longer periods of one or your allergic triggers.
The Yearly Cold That Lasts More Than Two Weeks
It’s possible that you have just always suffered with your annual winter “cold.” Sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, shortness of breath, and itchy or watery eyes — these are all common symptoms many people experience each winter. When you find yourself miserable with your winter “cold,” think again — you may not have a cold after all. In fact, you might actually be suffering from winter allergies. If your symptoms persist for longer than 10 days, you most likely are dealing with allergies. “Allergy symptoms can last for weeks or even months,” according to Dr. Mark Posner, M.D., Physician at Allergy & Asthma Specialists. “People can even be symptomatic all-year-round.”
Common Indoor Allergic Triggers
If you are suffering from indoor allergies — dust mites, mold, or animals — this winter will present a challenge for you. Also, beware of holiday triggers, including the mold on a Christmas tree trunk, the terpene in an evergreen sap or a year’s worth of dust on the ornaments brought down from the attic. Dust mites are always very attracted to real and artificial trees and decorations.
Common symptoms of winter allergies include:
- Nasal congestion
- Sinus headaches
- Shortness of breath
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Itchy or runny nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Sleep interruption and fatigue
When you have indoor allergies, it’s hard to feel like “there’s no place like home.” The good news is there are many options to reduce your exposure to these allergens and decrease or eliminate your symptoms.
Dr. Posner has several tips to keep in mind to be allergy-free during the winter months:
See an Allergist for a Skin Test
See an allergist to determine if you have allergies, and, if so, exactly what causes them. Allergy & Asthma Specialists offers state-of-the-art skin testing without needles to determine your exact allergy triggers.
It is much easier to set up a treatment plan when you know the allergic triggers you’re dealing with.
Take Care of Your Immune System
Getting plenty of rest, eating well and reducing stress will strengthen your immune system, resulting in a healthier you.
“Exercise is a good stress reliever, and it helps fire up the immune system,” Dr. Posner advises.
Keep Your Home Allergy-Free
Since you spend more time indoors during the winter, common allergy triggers, such as dust mites, mold, and animal dander, will present more of a problem.
“When you’re indoors, you’re also more exposed to indoor allergens caused by new carpets, furniture, or gas stoves,” Dr. Posner says.
Once you know what triggers your symptoms, treatment may be as easy as adopting some simple environmental controls and changes. If you’re mold-allergic, discard or clean any household items that have mold. Wash your bedding in hot water each week to eliminate dust mite droppings, and use a HEPA air filter to clear the indoor air of dust mite matter and animal dander. Air filters also help to clean the air of bacteria and virus molecules.
Be Mindful of Animals
If your pet is the trigger, do not let your pet sleep in your bedroom or any room where you are spending the majority of your time.
“With animal allergies, the amount of dander actually increases during the winter,” Dr. Posner adds.
A Personalized Treatment Plan
An allergist can provide many tips on effective environmental control. They can also develop a personalized medication treatment plan, if necessary, and help you chose the medication, whether over-the-counter or prescription, that will work best for you.
If symptoms are persistent and affecting your abilities to perform at work or school, immunotherapy might be the best option. Immunotherapy is a treatment that decreases one’s sensitivity to allergic triggers. This gradual administration of what you’re allergic to helps your immune system build up your own natural immunity safely and effectively, making you less allergic. The physicians of Allergy & Asthma Specialists prescribe personalized immunotherapy in three forms: injection, sublingual (or drops under the tongue you take at home), and tablets.
Fellowship-trained, board certified allergists/immunologists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists provide comprehensive allergy and asthma diagnostics and state-of-the-art treatment at offices in Center City Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown and Collegeville, PA. Schedule today online at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call 1-800-86COUGH, option 2.This is a paid partnership between Allergy & Asthma Specialists ℠ and Philadelphia Magazine's City/Studio