5 Ways to Keep Winter Allergies at Bay

winter allergyWinter can be just as hard on allergy sufferers as summer is. For many, it can be even worse. You can help reduce the suffering with these five tips:

1. Use HEPA filters in your furnace: Granted, you don’t get true HEPA filtration without a sealed system, but the additional filtration that HEPA provides traps as much as 30 times more allergens than a standard filter.

2. Regularly rinse and dry the water reservoir in your humidifiers. Quite often, people refill their humidifiers without emptying the old water. But the older the water, the more likely bacteria and mold are growing in it, and those critters are put into the air by the humidifier. This is true even when the old water is diluted with fresh water. A good rule of thumb is to empty and dry the reservoir every 10 days to two weeks.

3. Keep your indoor humidity level below 50%. Dust mites can’t survive in low humidity environments, and high humidity encourages mold growth.

4. Change your shower curtain liner. When you see the bottom of your shower curtain liner begin to change color, that means mildew is growing on it. That’s enough of an allergen to deal with in such as small space, but where there’s mildew there’s often mold, too. Depending on the type of liner and how much mildew there is, you may be able to clean it in the washing machine. If there is mold, don’t even try. Just seal it in a plastic bag and throw it away to avoid spreading mold spores around the house.

5. Wash your hands frequently.  This is the advice you hear most often for avoiding colds and flu, but it applies to allergies, as well. Dust, mold spores and other allergens can be on any surface you touch, and those allergens can move from our hands to your upper respiratory systems just as easily as bacteria and viruses.

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