Taming Winter Allergies

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Although most of us probably don't realize it, the winter is considered an allergy season.

When our houses are closed up, certain allergens can't escape, making people sick and uncomfortable.

Dust mites and pet dander are the two most common winter antigens.

And when they're not under control, they can cause real problems for the people who live with them.

"What happens then is we're tolerating allergies that are in the home that, during the summer months when the windows are open, it wasn't bothering you. During the winter time, it seems they're more concentrated," says Dr. Martin Voss, an allergist for Luther Midelfort.

Dr. Voss says many homes don't have the proper ventilation or heating system, so allergens are just stirred up inside our houses, irritating our senses.

"Most people have forced air heating systems where the, it gets blown around the fan from the furnace," says Dr. Voss.

And while many people enjoy the smell of a fresh cut holiday tree, others suffer from it, because Dr. Voss says that smell is actually a volatile gas similar to turpentine.

But he says thankfully it's easy to get rid of.

"A natural tree out gases that very quickly, maybe in the first 3-4 days,” says Dr. Voss. “So if you have it, and the tree warms up, and that's when it releases most of it, if you just run a bathroom fan on a regular, you know, just let it run."

Dr. Voss says to try to keep all winter allergies at bay, you should do fall cleaning instead of spring cleaning., including scrubbing your carpets in about October and covering your mattresses and pillows with allergy encasements.

"You have these dust mite proof encasements and everything above that, the pillow case, the sheets, the mattress covers, that kind of stuff, that are above that, you take that all off and launder it weekly," says Dr. Voss.

Dr. Voss says symptoms for these allergies include a sneezy, itchy, stuffy nose, itchy, watery eyes and a cough or wheezing, which he says are usually worse at night.

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