What’s lurking indoors during the ‘non-allergy’ season?
When the ragweed has subsided, the leaves have fallen, the weather has turned cooler, and fall is well and truly over, you’re probably ready for a break from allergies. Now is a great time to shut yourself into your nice, cozy house, sip a hot beverage, and not have to deal with allergy symptoms until spring, right? Not so fast. While winter is not considered an allergy season, it’s actually when indoor allergies do some of their finest work. Why? Because when people are spending more time indoors, they have more exposure to certain allergens.
- Dust mites cause year-round symptoms but are especially bothersome in winter. Dust mites are tiny arthropods, only about one-quarter to one-third of a millimeter in size. They thrive in warm, humid places, so they really enjoy living in beds, carpet, and upholstered furniture. They feed primarily on human skin flakes, and both their waste and their bodies can cause allergic reactions. People who are sensitive to dust mite allergens may experience sneezing, a runny nose, itching, red, watery eyes, itchy skin, postnasal drip, and a cough. In some people, a dust mite allergy can trigger asthma, causing difficulty breathing, tightness in the chest, wheezing, and trouble sleeping because of coughing, wheezing, or shortness of breath. You can find out if you’re allergic to dust mites through an allergy skin test. Treating this allergy involves reducing exposure and may require medication or immunotherapy. Vacuuming regularly, covering pillows, mattresses, and box springs, and washing your bedding frequently can all help reduce dust mites in your home.
- Mold can cause serious health problems. This is because molds produce both allergens and irritants, which can cause allergic reactions when touched or inhaled. Mold spores are everywhere, but if they find a damp place in your home in which to get a foothold, the mold will start growing and may become problematic. Mold is most common in bathrooms and around windows. Allergic reactions to mold exposure include sneezing, runny nose, red eyes, and a rash. In addition, mold can cause asthma attacks in those who are allergic and irritate the eyes, skin, throat, nose, and lungs of people regardless of whether or not they’re allergic.
- Man’s best friend is sometimes the source of man’s persistent misery. There’s no doubt that we love our companion animals, but pets of all types produce allergens. This can be the family dog, cat, bird or even the schoolroom gerbil. These allergens are proteins that can cause an allergic reaction, and they’re found in animal hair, dander, saliva, and urine. When a pet lives inside, the allergen levels are highest in rooms where the pet is allowed. What’s more, in addition to releasing their own allergens, dogs and cats can bring dust and pollen inside on their coats! Pet allergy symptoms manifest with a stuffy or runny nose, itchy, watery eyes, sneezing, wheezing, coughing, and sometimes hives or a rash. If you’re not willing to part with your four-legged friend, there are multiple treatments available to help you manage your allergies.
If you suffer from allergies or asthma, an experienced, board-certified allergist can help you determine how to manage your conditions. The physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists SM are board-certified in allergy and immunology and will help you identify triggers so that you can learn to control your symptoms. Call 610-825-5800 or visit the website for an appointment, or to learn more