If you are like me and suffer with pollen allergies in the summer, you probably look forward to winter. Winter generally reduces allergy symptoms when the weather outside gets cold and frosty. But, if you have allergies to molds and dust mites, you may find no relief during the winter months.

Here are some factors to consider that can trigger winter allergies.

When the temperature drops and your furnace starts to run, it sends mold spores and the dust that has accumulated in the various parts of your heating system into the air of your home. This can trigger an allergic reaction in many people.

To help this situation I always run the furnace for 10 to 15 minutes in the fall when the windows can be opened wide to allow fresh air to remove any allergens generated.

Do not forget to change the furnace filter on a regular basis.

Allergy symptoms caused by dust and mold in the home include coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing.

These symptoms, although similar to those of a cold or flu, will last longer than the usual 7 to 10 days. Allergy systems can hang on for weeks or even months. Also, allergies are not accompanied by a fever or body aches and pains.

If coughing, runny nose, itchy eyes and sneezing last for more than a week, it is best to see your doctor. He will refer you to an allergist who will do a skin test to determine exactly what allergens are affecting you. This is a very simple test that only takes 30 minutes to complete and is not at all painful.

Once the particular allergens that are causing your reactions are found, the Doctor may prescribe antihistamines to reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching and decongestants to relieve nasal congestion and swelling.

Another avenue of treatment may include taking allergy shots. These injections expose the body to gradually increasing doses of the allergen. This allows your immune system to build up a resistance to the specific allergen. This can reduce your winter allergy symptoms for a longer period of time.

I personally found these shots to work very well, my symptoms were significantly reduced.

There are some other things that you can do to help give away your winter allergy symptoms.

Consider purchasing a HEPA air filter system to clean dust from the air. This is very effective when used in the bedroom to help relieve night time congestion.

If the humidity in your home is above 45 to 50%, a dehumidifier will help control mold growth.

Remember that dust mites thrive in humidity over 60 percent and temperatures of 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.

Get rid of any items that show mold such as bathroom shower curtains and any carpets that may show signs of dampness.

Check your basement for areas of mold growth. Wash all areas found with a solution of 5% bleach and detergent and take further steps to reduce the humidity in these areas.

Wash all bedding in hot water (135 F) each week to reduce dust mites and their droppings.

Other considerations that will help alleviate winter allergies include using an artificial Christmas tree and washing all of your Christmas decorations before putting them out. Real trees can have pollen and molds, and washing the ornaments will remove the build up of dust that has accumulated.

Clean, dust, and vacuum regularly, using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter.

We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a Happy, allergy free, New Year.