Your Winter Indoor Allergy Survival Guide

Many people assume that the coming of winter provides a much needed break from their biggest allergy symptoms. But if you're allergic to indoor allergens, you could be saying goodbye to seasonal allergens only to find yourself coping with a new set allergy triggers.

Could You Have Winter Allergies?

While your home may feel like a safe haven when it's cold and snowy outside, spending more time indoors with the windows closed can also mean increased exposure to mold, pollen, and animal dander.

Some common indoor allergy symptoms caused by these and other indoor allergy triggers include a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and itchy nose, eyes, and throat. Although these ailments can easily be confused with a cold or flu, when the discomfort repeatedly comes and goes, or lingers indefinitely, you'll need to consider if it could be related to indoor allergies.

If you do suspect that you have indoor allergies, the good news is that you don't have to suffer all winter long. By recognizing the problem, you can take steps to close the door on your symptoms. Here are some things you can do:

  • Banish dust mites. Your bedroom may look clean, but it could be harboring dust mites that can't be seen by the naked eye. These microscopic-sized allergens hide in your mattress, pillows, bedding, rug, and upholstered furniture. The best way to take control is to use plastic allergy-free covers on your pillows and mattress to keep the dust mites safely contained inside. Other winter allergy survival strategies for your bedroom include washing bedding in very hot water once a week or even more often, and removing carpeting, which traps dust mites and other allergens. If you want to use throw rugs, wash them often and vacuum regularly using a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate) filter.
  • Minimize pet dander. You love spending time with your dog or cat, but some of the biggest triggers can be found in your pet's dander, saliva, and urine. For mild allergies, you and your animal can co-exist in harmony—as long as you take some simple precautions. For instance, keep her out of your bedroom to minimize contact with these triggers while you sleep. It's also a good idea to keep her away from the other places you frequent in your home, such as the kitchen and living room. Vacuum your carpets often, or if you can, remove carpeting—which is a magnet to allergens. If cleaning worsens your symptoms, wear a facemask or assign someone else to handle the task.
  • Eliminate excess humidity. Many people associate dry winter air with irritated nasal passages. But on the flip side, overly moist or humid air causes mold growth, which is a major cause of winter allergies. The best way to avoid the problem is to make sure your home is well insulated, since this can reduce condensation and related allergens. Properly ventilating your bathroom, fixing leaky faucets and drips, and running a fan when you're in the shower all make significant contributions toward reducing excess moisture and cutting down on your indoor allergies.
  • Discourage cockroaches. As gross as it sounds, cockroaches and their droppings can be a big allergy trigger. To prevent these critters from gaining access to your home, be sure to fix any cracks in your walls and seal off crevices around windows and doors. Put away food, sweep up crumbs, and wash dishes and countertops promptly after meals to discourage these allergy-causing bugs from sharing your living areas.
  • Ensure proper ventilation. Your kitchen can be a source of dangerous allergens, particularly if you have a gas stove without proper ventilation in place. This is because the gas stove (and gas cook top, too) releases nitrogen oxides into the room, which can irritate your lungs. While anyone can be affected by this problem, people with allergies and asthma are especially susceptible. The best way to avoid the issue is to use a properly ventilated hood over the stove or open your window when you're cooking.

Treat Your Winter Allergies Right

Taking antihistamines, decongestants, or other allergy medications can help relieve existing allergy symptoms or prevent new symptoms from occurring. When your discomfort doesn't respond to common treatments, it's time to see an allergist and explore the benefits of using immunotherapy to desensitize your body to common triggers.




"Allergy: Lifestyle Management: Wintertime Allergy Tips." National Jewish Health., March 2009. Web. 10 Dec. 2011.

"Keeping A Clean Home Can Help With Winter Allergies." National Jewish Health., 11 Jan. 2010. Web. 10 Dec. 2011.

"Managing Indoor Allergen Culprits." AAAAI,, Feb. 2011. Web. 10 Dec. 2011.

Tips to Control Indoor Allergens. Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America., n.d. Web. 10 Dec. 2011.