Now that Winter is near we are spending more time indoors. The allergens that are trapped inside the house with you are making you miserable. 10% of the population is allergic to one or more of these irritants: Dust mites, pet dander, mold, perfumes, smoke from fireplaces and even Christmas Trees.
In the Winter many people think they have colds, when they actually have allergies. If cold-like symptoms last longer than a week or if your symptoms include itchy eyes, it is most likely is an allergy and not a cold. A good resource for more information about allergens in the home is one of my favorite books, My House Is Killing Me!: The Home Guide for Families with Allergies and Asthma
A few things to try:
• Try over the counter allergy medicines that contain antihistamines like: Claritin, Actifed, Astelin, Clarinex, Benedryl, Zyrtec and Allegra. Some will make you drowsy, so it’s best to find the one that works for you. Benedryl works like a sleeping pill for me, Actifed makes me jumpy so I can’t sleep, I use Zyrtec or Cetirizine Hydrochloride 10mg Tablets .
• Use allergy sprays on your pets and brush them outside while wearing a mask. Special food additives for pets to keep down dander are also available. My daughter uses AllerPet on her two cats and it seems to help with her cat dander allergy. Allerpet Grooming Emollient, C for Cats and Allerpet?/D for dogs
• Wash your sheets, pillow cases and blankets at least once a week in hot water and dry in a dryer on hot. My 100% cotton fitted sheets tend to shrink with this kind of care, so I take them out when very slightly damp and stretch them over the mattress without other covers to dry throughly.
• Use zippered allergen-proof mattress, and pillow covers to control dust mites and bed bugs. Wash the zippered covers in hot water regularly.
• Use a mask over your nose and mouth when dusting and vacuuming.
• Hard surfaced floors are best to keep dust free, but if you refuse to give up your carpet and rugs, use a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter to filter out the allergens you are picking up so they don’t get blown right back into the air. I love my whole house Vac-u -Flo system, all that nasty air goes out into the garage, not back into the air we breathe.
• Vacuum all upholstered furniture and bedspreads that can’t be washed or run them through the fluff cycle of the dry to remove dust. I once heard that un-washable bedspreads and sofas harbor more dust mites and dander than any surface in the house. Think about it, hard surfaces get dusted regularly and rugs get vacuumed, but the huge surface of the bedspreads and sofa retains that same amount of dust week after week. Of course if you never make your bed it won’t be a problem 😉
• Make sure you change the filter on your furnace frequently. Use high a high-efficiency HEPA filter if your furnace can use one.
• Lastly, I believe that the use of a net pot to clear the nasal passages of irritants works miracles. This type of device has been used for many years to irrigate and clean out nasal passages and sinuses. If your nose is completely blocked, the neti pot is NOT the best solution. Unblock your nose first. The neti pot will clear out irritants that are causing the swelling, but must be used on a mostly cleared nose. I use the NeilMed Sinus Rinse Saline Nasal Rinse. My daughter’s family swears by the New Neti Pot Nasal Wash / Sinus Irrigation . I think they all work on the same principle. - Cleans mucus from the nose so medication is more effective. - Cleans allergens and irritants from the nose reducing their impact. - Removes bacteria and viruses from the nose reducing the frequency of infection. - Decreases swelling in the nose and increases air flow.