10 Allergy Relief Ideas During the Holidays and Beyond
More than 40 million Americans cope with year-round allergies. The causes can be multiple from geographic location to plants and pets. But there are a few common holiday allergy triggers which add to the mix.
Common Indoor and Holiday Allergy Triggers
- Often invisible to the naked eye, mold spores float in the air like pollen and your exposure to them may increase during the holidays because mold spores love damp evergreens like fresh wreaths, boughs, and trees that we bring inside for the holidays. In addition, the mold and mildew in fall leaves decaying where we walk adds to the irritation as we track them inside on shoes and clothes. There are other possible sources of mold indoors like visible leaks around toilets or faucets but also hidden leaks which can go unnoticed for a long time.
- Your pets or the pets of friends and relatives you visit can be a bigger problem in the winter because pets are indoor more leading to more hair and dander in living spaces.
- Dust mites. These microscopic allergens are a perennial allergy irritant which become more aggravating around the holidays when the air gets damp.
- All through the winter holiday a variety of seasonal foods are all around. Some may be allergy triggers to you.
While it helps to know why your allergies may kick up during the holidays, it’s just as important to know what you can do to relieve symptoms or avoid triggers.
Strategies to Control Your Exposure to Allergens Around Your Home at the Holidays and Beyond
- Fresh air – Fresh air is important to manage even in the winter. There are times to keep your door and windows closed such as it’s too cold outside, or outdoor pollen or smoke is a problem. In the winter, air can be trapped and stale, letting in some fresh air periodically (not on frigid days) can help.
- Furnace filters – Change them frequently. It’s easy to forget this household task. Write the date on the filter, write on the calendar the date to change the filter again. Check the recommendations on the filter itself and keep up with the recommendations.
- Vacuum regularly – Carpet can trap allergens, so vacuum at least once or twice a week. If you have heavy drapes, vacuum these. Don’t forget vacuuming the upholstered furniture, wiping the blinds and baseboards as well as ceiling fans and other furniture and decorations. Depending on the people in your household and their allergy triggers you may need to consider a vacuum with a HEPA filter.
- Air humidity – The humidity of the indoor air is an important contributing factor to good indoor air quality. To prevent mold growth, keep humidity below 50 percent. Ideally the humidity level should be about 45 per cent. If it dips below 30 per cent it’s much too dry. You can use an inexpensive humidity monitor to measure humidity levels in rooms in your home. If necessary, purchase a room humidifier.
- Indoor plants – It may be time to reconsider the live plants in your home. Some indoor plants have many benefits, but other plants can trigger problems. In addition, the plant’s soil and what’s in the soil may be a problem. One plant that is often recommended for indoor spaces is the snake plant. It filters indoor air, and it converts carbon dioxide into oxygen at night.
- Bedding and stuffed toys – Dust and other allergens can collect on these items. Use hot water, and wash bedding and towels at least weekly and stuffed toys regularly.
- Wet clothes in the washer – Leaving clothes in the washer too long can trigger mold growth. Rewash them if necessary.
- Holiday food allergies – Know what foods are problematic to you, i.e. dairy, nuts, soy, wheat, eggs for example. Since you will be trying to avoid these food items, it’s important to talk about it with your host. At seasonal gatherings with friends and family, tell them about your food allergies, ask about ingredients in meals and desserts and solicit their help so you can avoid the foods you’re allergic to.
- Fireplaces – Wood burning releases a broad range of indoor air pollution and can be a severe trigger for allergy symptoms. The smoke contains small particles that can irritate eyes and the respiratory system.
- Manage stress – One of the best ways to bolster your immune system, so that it can more easily fend off allergy symptoms, is to recognize the effects of stress on your body and to try to manage and minimize it. This takes effort and determination. Practices that are proven to be helpful in reducing stress are yoga, meditation, brisk walks, and aerobic exercise, to name a few. Find one you like and try to make it a habit.
If you continue to suffer from allergy issues and believe the cause could be your indoor air quality, you should consider having your indoor air quality tested and/or have your home tested for mold.
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