As the calendar turns to the winter months, many allergy sufferers let out a sigh of relief. No more pollen means no more sneezing and itching. But, for others winter time means winter allergies.
Winter allergies? Yes, winter allergies.
With colder weather, we close up the house and get out our warm blankets and comforters. Pets come indoors to snuggle. And for those allergic to pets and dust mites, winter means more allergy symptoms.
Dust mites are microscopic, eight legged creatures that feed on flakes of dead skin. They absorb moisture from the air as opposed to drinking. Therefore, they like to live where people are and where it is humid. Beds, bedding and carpets provide dust mites the perfect place to live. And no matter how clean your house is, you have dust mites.
Allergy to dust mites is one of the most common allergies. Up to 1 in 4 people are allergic to dust mites and over 45% of homes have enough dust mite allergen to trigger asthma and allergies. Symptoms of dust mite allergy tend to be a bit different from pollen triggered allergies. As opposed to sudden fits of sneezing, clear watery runny nose and itchy eyes, dust mite allergy tends to cause more chronic nasal congestion that is worse first thing in the morning. People allergic to dust mites are more prone to ear and sinus infections. Dust mite allergy also worsens other underlying allergies.
So what should you do? The first step is to find out if you are dust mite allergic. Allergen skin testing under the direction of your Board Certified Allergy Partners physician remains the best way to diagnose allergies. If you are dust mite allergic, the following can help limit your exposure:
1. Limit dust collectors such as stuffed animals in the bedroom
2. Wash bedding in hot water (130 degrees)
3. Vacuum carpets regularly with a HEPA filter vacuum
4. Consider steam cleaning your carpets yearly
5. Invest in high quality allergen encasements for your mattress and pillows to put a barrier between you and the dust mites.
Treatment of dust mite allergy symptoms can include the use of over the counter and prescription medicines. For those interested in preventing symptoms, allergen immunotherapy (AKA allergy shots) can provide relief without having to take daily medications. Your Allergy Partners physician will work with you to determine the best options for you and your family.
To learn more about allergen encasements visit www.allergyguardian.com
To learn more about controlling your indoor air quality visit www.O2airpurifier.com