Not all allergens hibernate during winter months

Dealing with allergens

Those with seasonal allergies might breathe a sigh of relief when the grass and trees go dormant for the season.

But unfortunately, colder weather doesn’t spell relief for everyone.

According to Sandra Hong, M.D., of Cleveland Clinic, being cooped up in the house can make matters worse for people with indoor allergies.

“The dust mites can actually end up being in your pillows, your mattress, your box-springs, your carpeting and if you have a humidifier, if you keep it going at greater than 50 percent humidity; that will actually make dust mites grow faster, so you’ll have a lot more of them,” she said.

Dr. Hong said people with dust mite allergies will typically wake up in the morning feeling stuffy, because they’ve been sleeping on a surface to which they’re allergic all night long.

Molds can also be troublesome for many people this time of year.

Dr. Hong recommends cleaning areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and basements with a bleach solution to keep them dry and mold-free.

Other allergens that can really aggravate us during the winter come courtesy of the family pet.

Because pets tend to spend more time indoors with us during colder months, Dr. Hong said it simply increases our exposure to them.

She said that keeping pets out of the bedroom at all times, and keeping them in areas that are not carpeted can help cut down on allergy symptoms.

Bathing pets on a weekly basis and brushing them outside can help, in addition to a lot of vacuuming.

Because these indoor allergens can really impact us if we’re breathing them in while we sleep, Dr. Hong suggests using encasings around pillows, mattresses and box-springs.

And we can significantly cut down on the amount of allergens we’re breathing in at night by giving the washing machine a bit of a workout.

“It’s really important to make sure you wash all of your linens in your bed, including the stuffed animals, in hot water, over 130 degrees, and dry in hot-heat, to actually get rid of the dust mites,” said Dr. Hong.