Have you – or has someone in your family – been suffering from coughing, sneezing, watery or itchy eyes, itchy or runny nose, sneezing, or dark circles beneath the eyes? You might think these symptoms are the result of the common cold, but if they have lasted for more than 10 days and are not accompanied by any other symptoms of cold or flu (such as a fever and body aches), there’s a chance you could be suffering from winter allergies.
Allergies in winter? You may be surprised, but spring, summer, and fall are not the only seasons when you can be haunted by allergy symptoms, even if you live in an area that is blanketed with snow during the cold months. Although pollen might not be an issue at this time of year, dust, mold, pet dander, and other indoor allergens could still be causing you problems. In fact, indoor allergens might be more problematic because the windows to your home are likely closed, trapping dust and other contaminants indoors (where you’re also spending more time to get out of the cold).
When your furnace kicks in during the colder months, it can send dust, mold spores, and other contaminants into the air in your home or through your air duct system, and can re-circulate pet dander. Dust mites, microscopic bugs, can also flourish in bedding and mattresses, and their droppings and remains can become airborne. A trip to your doctor, who might refer you to an allergist, could lead to allergy testing and an allergy diagnosis.
Although your doctor might recommend medications that will help curb allergy symptoms, you can also to take steps that will help eliminate the source of your winter allergies. WebMD offers the following tips to help combat your allergy symptoms:
- Dispose of any shower curtains, wallpaper, or carpeting that show signs of mold.
- Use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50% -- this will combat dust mites and mold.
- Use a HEPA air filter to clean dust from the air in your home.
- Wash bedding in hot water (130 F) weekly, and if possible, use allergy-proof covers on mattresses, pillows, and comforters.
COIT offers a number of household cleaning services that can help eliminate indoor allergens. We recommend that homeowners schedule an Air Duct Cleaning every two to three years. Professional carpet, upholstery, and drapery and blind cleanings target areas of the home that can collect dust, mold, and other indoor allergens.
Remember, as with any physical symptoms that cause you concern, see your doctor first. If it is determined that indoor allergies are causing your problems, follow your doctor’s instructions and contact us at 1-800-FOR-COIT so we can schedule regular cleaning services that will help you control the sources of your symptoms.