Are you spending more time in your home than usual? Whether you’re home because your work asked you to work remotely, because your children’s schools shut down, because you’re sick with flu symptoms, or because you’re simply a homebody, you’ll want to start thinking about the air quality inside your home.
You may need or want to be inside your cozy home, but if you have any type of sensitivity to indoor allergens like dust and pet dander, being inside can exacerbate respiratory problems. If you haven’t cleaned your air ducts or replaced the filters in your HVAC system recently, you can have more allergy-inducing pet dander, dust mites, and mold spores circulating in your home.
When It’s Been Cold for Months
In the spring when the furnace has been running since late October, it can still be too chilly to open the windows for fresh air. So, as you wait for April or May to roll around, you’ll want to be aware of some of the allergy triggers lurking in your home that may be causing you to suffer from various allergy symptoms, such as:
- Itchy or watery eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Swollen lips, tongue, eyes, or face
- Stomach pain, including vomiting or diarrhea
- Skin that is dry, red, or cracked
According to Dr. Nicholas BuSaba, associate professor of otolaryngology at Harvard Medical School, most of the things that cause problems don’t have any odors. So, there may be nothing that alerts the person that there’s a problem, he says.
Indoor air quality is a year-round issue, but it’s worse during the winter months because it’s typical for there to be no flow of fresh air coming from outside. If you’re stuck inside, improving the indoor air quality of your home will help reduce allergy flare-ups and symptoms and keep you breathing better when the furnace is still running.
Tips for improving indoor air quality:
- Keep the house clean. When a house is clean, it cuts down on dust and animal dander.
- Change bedding regularly to reduce allergens, especially if you have pets.
- Consider investing in dust mite-proof covers on pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
- Reduce the clutter in the house; it is a dust magnet.
- Keep the plants outside. They can be pretty, but they can also promote mold growth.
- If you have a forced-air heating system, change your filters regularly.
- Have your air ducts cleaned to remove dust and keep the indoor air cleaner.
- Buy a quality air purifier, especially if you’re allergic to pet dander but you won’t give up your favorite cat or dog.
- Even if it’s chilly outside, open some windows and let some fresh air in the house.
For more tips on reducing indoor allergens and improving air quality, click here.