Which Common Winter Allergens Are You Likely to Encounter?

While allergies tend to be more associated with the spring season, common winter allergens also trigger symptoms in persons with certain sensitivities. One reason is clear: During winter, we’re all inside more often and thus more exposed to increased levels of specific allergens that tend to accumulate inside an enclosed home. These irritants can initiate common allergic reactions including sneezing, respiratory reactions such as coughing and wheezing, watery eyes, nasal congestion, and even skin irritation.

Common winter allergens include:

  • Pet dander. Microscopic flakes of skin and/or fur.
  • Dust mites. Tiny bugs that thrive in carpeting, upholstery, and bedding.
  • Mold spores. Released by active mold growth inside the structure, airborne reproductive spores may cause serious reactions in susceptible persons.

Your HVAC system, together with other factors, can help mitigate indoor air-quality issues and alleviate annoying symptoms of common winter allergens. Here are some ways to clear the air inside the house:

  • Change the system air filter regularly. The entire air volume inside your house passes through the HVAC’s air filter many times per day. Change the filter at least every other month during the winter season. Choose quality, pleated cotton or polyester air filters with a MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) ranging from 8 to 13.
  • Dust surfaces and vacuum carpets regularly. To avoid simply stirring up dust and returning it to the air, vacuum with a HEPA-grade filter and change it regularly.
  • Wash bedding weekly in hot water of at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit to kill dust mites.
  • Use a humidifier to help alleviate common respiratory irritation caused by dry winter air and gas-fired heating systems. Since dust mites and mold growth are stimulated by indoor humidity, however, maintain indoor levels around 50%.
  • Consider restricting pets to certain rooms only, though for sensitive individuals, allergic reactions to indoor pets may be impossible to totally eliminate in winter. Consult a physician about possible allergy shots or a prescription.

For more options to mitigate common winter allergens in your home, contact Paitson Bros., Terre Haute’s choice for indoor comfort and healthy air quality since 1922.

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