Here’s Why Your Allergies Flared Up Recently

Ah, allergies – this gift that keeps on giving.  For most people, they tend to act up in the spring and summer months when outdoor air is ripe with pollen.

But if during our recent “January thaw” you noticed your allergies kicking in, this is why.

Mold, mold, mold

There’s a certain degree of mold present outside year-round, but most grows in the fall season. At this time piles of leaves and other dead vegetation absorb moisture and create dark, wet places ideal for bacteria growth. Anyone with allergies or respiratory sensitivities has probably noticed they are aggravated by activities like raking leaves or turning a compost pile.Winter allergies

Here’s the surprising part: many of these mold strains are not killed off by winter frosts. Instead they lay dormant until mid-winter warm ups when they become exposed on the ground, brush and trees as ice and snow melt off.

So if your allergies flare up whenever the weather gets above 0 degrees outside, particularly when you are spending time outside, this could be why.

 

Cold weather indoor allergens

However, we can’t forget about allergens that strike in the home all winter long. Forced air heating systems do make homes drier this time of year, but condensation gathers in the more humid parts of homes, such as bathrooms and kitchens. Cold weather means windows stay closed, so if you have an HRV/ERV it’s important to keep them running to exchange fresh outdoor air with indoor air. If you do find mold is growing in your home, it can be cleaned with vinegar or a gentle bleach and hot water solution.

Air filtration products can also be your friends year-round when it comes to reducing indoor allergens like dust, bacteria, and pet dander. There is a huge difference between a standard 1 inch furnace filter and something like the Lennox PureAir which can remove 99.9% of airborne particles and 90% of bacteria. Because the whole family and pets tend to spend more time bundled up inside in the cold months, that’s more hair, dust, pet fur and dirt accumulating inside. Ventilation upgrades – plus not skimping on the dusting and vacuuming – can help reduce respiratory irritants that bother us in winter.

By following these methods, as well as limiting time outdoors on warmer and windy winter days you can reduce your allergy flare ups in winter…at least until spring allergies kick in.

 

How to Proof Your Home Against Seasonal Allergies

The sneezing.Boy blowing nose

The itchy eyes and throat.

The inflamed sinuses.

They’re all familiar if you or someone you know has seasonal allergies, and it’s likely they are currently in full swing.

If you are stuck avoiding the outdoors, you want your home to be a safe haven from respiratory trouble. Here’s what you can do to seal your home against outdoor irritants, as well as eliminate the indoor factors that aggravate allergy and other respiratory issues.

     1. Keep windows and doors closed as much as possible. This is the time to rely on your air conditioning system.

  1. Turn off your heat recovery ventilator or energy recovery ventilator unit during the mornings, when pollen is at peak levels in the outdoor air.
  1. Change your furnace filter regularly according to its size and type. See our FAQ “How often should I replace the air filter in my furnace?” for more information.
  1. Turn off your humidifier for the summer months.  Not only does this reduce the temperature in your home (because air moisture and temperature are directly tied), it reduces growth of mold. Mold spores can irritate allergies and asthma, and some strands can pose even more serious health risks.
  1. If you do spot any mold growth near showers, sinks, toilets, and in the basement, clean it with a solution of one part bleach to ten parts water.
  1. Have your HRV/ERV unit cleaned regularly. Most units contain two small, reusable foam filters that need to be vacuumed and washed every three months. The core filter should be cleaned once per year. If you are comfortable you can do this yourself by following these directions, or Hy-Mark can do it for you.
  1. Sweep, dust, and vacuum regularly to keep dust mites at bay. Wipe down surfaces with cleaning solutions. Here are some DIY options for natural cleaners, which may be gentler on allergies and other respiratory problems.
  1. Brush cats and dogs regularly to prevent excessive shedding. Not only is hair itself an allergen for some people, it harbours dust mites when it collects on surfaces in the home. Indoor animals shed year round, but if your pet goes outdoors it will shed the most in spring and fall. If you’re in the market for a new pet, consider a hypoallergenic breed. These types of dogs –  and cats– may shed less or carry less dander in their coats.

 If you need further help allergy proofing your home, Hy-Mark is happy to help. Just give us a call! 1 800 727 0750.