Winter does have its pluses for people who suffer from allergies—at least they're less likely to get hay fever.
But folks tend to spend more time indoors during the winter, and living inside can trigger other allergy and asthma problems, experts warn.
The American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI) offers tips for keeping your self sniffle-free if you are cooped up inside…
Keep indoor humidity below 55%. A humidifier can reduce winter dryness, but if you overdo it, too much moisture can exacerbate problems with dust mites, so consider keeping the humidifier or vaporizer turned off.
Check your furnace to make sure it has a high-efficiency furnace filter with a MERV rating of 11 or 12. Changing the filter every three months will help keep out dust and other allergens.
Take special care to keep allergens out of your bedroom. "Keep pets and their dander out, and encase mattresses and pillows with dust mite proof covers," allergist Myron Zitt, MD, past president of ACAAI, said in a news release from the organization. "Limit curtains—use blinds that can be washed instead."
Step up your housekeeping efforts. Wash bedding and stuffed animals in hot water every two weeks, and use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. When dusting, allergy sufferers are urged to wear a NIOSH-rated N95 mask.
Use a fan or open a window in the bathroom and kitchen when moisture builds up to reduce mold growth.
If your garage is attached to the house, beware of noxious odors or fumes that can trigger asthma. Move insecticides and containers of gasoline and other irritants to a shed.
Keep your decor free of dust collectors. Books and knick-knacks should be boxed. Limit how many indoor plants you keep and consider investing in furniture with leather or other nonporous surfaces because they're easier to clean.
Do Wine and Beer Make You Sneeze?
Beer, wine and liquor contain histamine produced by yeast and bacteria during fermentation. Histamine can cause allergy-like symptoms, such as sneezing, runny nose and scratchy throat. Other foods that contain or release histamine include aged cheeses, pickled or fermented products and yeast containing foods, such as bread, cider and grapes (yeast occurs naturally on the skin of grapes). Women are about twice as likely as men to suffer from allergies after drinking alcohol.
Best: Especially during allergy season, avoid alcoholic beverages and foods that contain yeast.
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