Seasonal Allergies: What Causes Winter Allergies and How to Prevent Allergies in the Wintertime

Winterizing your home is an annual tradition many families partake in. Saving a few dollars every winter on your heating bills just by filling in all the little gaps and cracks that allow heat to seep out is always a good thing. But have you ever thought about what stays trapped in your home because of your winterizing? Indoor air pollution increases during the winter months and can harm your health.

What Are You Breathing?
In an effort to save your money, it easy to become overly concerned about preventing excess air from leaking from your home in the winter. However, in your zealousness, you may forget that there are some things that should escape, like pet dander, dust and smoke. Due to the warmer temperatures in your home, you may actually find that your home becomes a haven for various allergens, including dust mites, rodents, fleas, ticks, cockroaches, moths and molds. As these allergens and pollutants build up, they can create a serious health hazard for the occupants in your home.

The Air in Your Home
With all these extra allergens in your air, it�s not surprising that indoor winter air can be anywhere from two to five times more polluted than outdoor air. In extreme cases, the air can even be as much as 100 times more polluted. During the colder months, people spend as much as 90% of their time inside. This means that these pollutants are even more troublesome, especially for young children, seniors and those who suffer from allergies and asthma.

If you�re still a bit skeptical about poor air quality in your home, then consider this: in the United States, indoor air quality is listed as one of the top five environmental risks to the public health by the Environmental Protection Agency. Although allergens are always present in your home air, they tend to proliferate during the summer. Yet, it is during the winter months that most people experience particularly bad allergy symptoms. This is because you are cooped up with all these pollutants much more frequently when it is cold outside. And when your home has been over winterized, there is nowhere for these pollutants and allergens to go except into your nose and lungs.

Healthy Home Air Tips
Now that you know what�s lurking in your air, you may be tempted to avoid winterizing your home this year, but there is no reason why you should skip it. Just use these tips to make sure the air you breathe in your warm toasty home is clean.


  • Have all your fuel-burning appliances, like the water heater, checked annually by a professional to make sure it is working in peak form
  • Replace your furnace filter every two to three months
  • Use a high-efficiency filter. These can capture up to 30 times more allergens compared to the standard fiberglass filter
  • Make sure your furnace fan is always on; your furnace filter can�t catch any allergens if the fan is not on
  • Install carbon monoxide alarms on every floor of your home
  • To reduce carbon monoxide levels in your home, make sure any and all gas cooking appliances are vented to the outdoors
  • If you are burning wood in your fireplace, crack open a window to help fresh air get in

Allergy Busters
If you or someone in your home suffers from allergies due to the air quality, then follow these tips to help make breathing a little easier.


  • To prevent moisture and mold from building up in the bathroom and kitchen, use fans or open a window
  • Using a dehumidifier can also help reduce the amount of moisture in the air and therefore aid in preventing mold spores from forming
  • Doing a thorough cleaning of your home on a regular weekly basis will help cut back on allergens
  • In the kitchen and bathroom, use a cleaner that will destroy mold as these are the places mold is most likely to grow
  • When vacuuming, vacuum in two directions with the second direction being 90° to the first direction
  • If you can, use a vacuum with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter as it can remove 99.97% of all particles that are 0.3 microns or larger from the air
  • Dust mites are found in the highest concentration in the bedroom, so make sure all your bed coverings are allergen proof and that you wash them once a week in hot water
  • If possible, remove items that may make your allergies worse, like carpets

Chat with other moms in our forum about how to deal with winter allergies.