What causes winter allergies and how to prevent them « Khabarhub
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What causes winter allergies and how to prevent them

26 December 2023  

Time taken to read : 6 Minute

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Most of us enjoy gathering in front of a roaring fireplace with family, friends, and pets during the holiday season. Unfortunately, many holiday traditions like these can affect your indoor air quality , triggering allergies and asthma.

What causes winter allergies?

Many particles and chemicals in your home can trigger allergy and asthma symptoms. The biggest culprits of holiday allergies include fireplace smoke, mold, artificial scents, pet dander, and dust mites.


Smoke from wood-burning fireplaces contains tiny, harmful particles that can be inhaled and absorbed into your lungs and bloodstream. This smoke can be just as harmful as smoke from cigarettes or cigars. Even breathing in a little wood smoke can cause headaches, coughing, wheezing and eye irritation.

Wood smoke can significantly increase the number of particles in your home and cause health problems that last long after holidays are over. The effects of particles from wood smoke and other solid fuels are linked to 4 million premature deaths each year. Smoke can make heart and lung conditions worse and has been linked to strokes, heart disease, and lung cancer.

Christmas trees

Mold grows rapidly on moist, tightly packed Christmas trees after they’re cut, bundled, and shipped to tree sellers, where they often sit for weeks. Then, mold spores can spread as soon as you bring your tree inside.

Christmas trees have been found to host over 50 types of mold, and their spores sometimes increase in concentration by over 600% in less than two weeks. This can cause an allergic reaction known as “Christmas Tree Syndrome,” which results in symptoms like:

  • Coughing, sneezing and wheezing
  • Runny, itchy or stuffy nose
  • Dry, itchy or flaky skin
  • Red, itchy or watery eyes

Christmas Tree Syndrome can be an even bigger problem in homes already filled with mold. Mold in older homes or homes in damp climates increase your risk of allergy and asthma symptoms by nearly 50%.

Scented products

Pine, pumpkin spice or cinnamon scents can make your home smell cozy and inviting. But many candles and air fresheners contain artificial fragrances and chemicals.

When burned, scented candles can release formaldehyde, limonene and other volatile organic compounds (VOCs). These VOCs can make you dizzy and give you headaches or symptoms of allergies and asthma. Many air fresheners also use phthalates, which increase your risk of liver, kidney and reproductive conditions.

Candles and air fresheners can also trigger symptoms of idiopathic environmental intolerances (IEI) is a medical condition in which your body is highly sensitive to chemicals in substances like fragrances, tobacco and cleaning supplies. With IEI, your body might react with symptoms like:

  • Sore throat or cough
  • Sinus and eye irritation
  • Wheezing and fatigue

Pet dander

Dander from dogs, cats, birds or other furry animals can trigger allergic reactions. Pet dander is full of microscopic particles like dust, urine, saliva and dead skin. These particles can cause symptoms of allergies and asthma, such as coughing, sneezing, eye irritation, and skin rashes.

Even dogs or cats advertised as “non-allergenic” still produce some dander that can irritate your allergies. Pet dander can stick to clothes, furniture, and carpets for a long time, causing symptoms long after you’ve been exposed to a pet.

Dust mites

Dust mites are tiny spider-like creatures that live on beds, carpets, and curtains in bedrooms and hotels. Dust mites eat dead skin flakes from you and your pets, and they thrive and multiply throughout the year when it’s warm and humid. Living dust mites don’t cause allergies, but their droppings can be inhaled, immediately causing allergy and asthma symptoms like wheezing and a runny nose.

Dead dust mite bodies that become airborne can also trigger allergies. Dust mite bodies and droppings stick around in your mattress and pillows, too, and can cause allergy and asthma symptoms throughout the year. Turning on your HVAC system can stir up and spread mite droppings and bodies throughout your home, making symptoms worse.

What can I do to prevent winter allergies during the holidays?

  1. Monitor indoor air quality
  2. Don’t burn wood in your home. If you do use firewood, make sure it’s been split, dried and covered for at least six months.
  3. Open windows and use fans to ventilate your home when you cook, clean or burn candles.
  4. Clean your home regularly
  5. Use an air purifier:
    • Use an air purifier for allergens.
    • Use a special air purifier for MCS.
    • Create a pure air breathing zone. 

Winter allergies don’t have to make your holidays miserable. Put these tips into practice to keep your home inviting and healthy so that you and your family can enjoy the season.

(With inputs from IQ Air)

Publish Date : 26 December 2023 14:29 PM

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