cropped view of night nurse sneezing and holding a tissue
Profiles and Features November 19, 2019

Combating Winter Allergies

Tips to Keep Nurses Feeling Healthy

Some nurses get relief from their seasonal allergy symptoms when winter arrives, but others will continue sniffling and sneezing all winter long. These winter allergies can be caused by a number of indoor allergens, including mold, dust mites, pet dander and even cockroaches. If you're experiencing winter allergies at home or at work, try these tips to get your symptoms under control.
 

Wash Your Bedding Often

Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in dust, and they're a major cause of indoor allergies. Because dust mites feed on skin flakes, they often live in bedding, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences warns. To kill these bugs, wash your bedding in hot water at least once a week. For a busy nurse, this is easier said than done, but try your best. If you have non-washable bedding, you can put it in the freezer overnight to kill dust mites.
 

Try Allergen-Proof Bed Covers

It's not possible to completely eliminate dust mites, but if these bugs are contributing to your winter allergies, allergen-proof bed covers may help. These covers are made of tightly woven fabric, so dust mites can't pass through. According to the Mayo Clinic, these covers can keep dust mites out of your pillows and mattress. If dust mites are already there, these covers can keep them from spreading.
 

Get Rid Of Clutter

Knickknacks, stacked boxes, piles of clothing and other clutter give indoor allergens a place to hide. These objects can collect dust, and where there's dust, there's dust mites: A single gram of dust can contain thousands of dust mites, according to the University of Kentucky
 
Other allergens, including mold and pet dander, can also be present in dust. When your home is free of clutter, you may find winter allergies are less of a problem. The same is true at work, so do your part to keep your assignment facility free of clutter.
 

Remove Carpeting

Many studies have found that carpets collect more dust, fungi, pet dander and other allergens than hard floors, according to a review published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. When you walk across a carpet, these allergens may be stirred up into the air. At home, consider replacing your carpets with smooth flooring, such as tile or wood, to control winter allergies. When you're traveling, look for travel nurse housing that doesn't have wall-to-wall carpeting.
 
Ready for your next assignment? Browse our travel nursing jobs.
 

Keep Pets Out Of Your Bedroom

People tend to spend more time indoors during the winter, so your pet allergies may be more bothersome at this time of year. To control symptoms, the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology recommends keeping your pet out of your bedroom. Allergen levels are lower in rooms that pets don't have access to.
 

Use A HEPA Filter

To feel healthier this winter, consider using a high efficiency particle arresting (HEPA) filter. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, HEPA filters can remove most harmful particles from your air. This includes dust mites, pet dander and mold. Use HEPA filters in rooms where you spend a lot of time, such as your bedroom. You may find it helpful to position the filter so it blows clean air on your face while you sleep.
 

Keep Your Kitchen Clean

Cockroach feces, saliva and body parts can trigger winter allergies. One of the best ways to combat cockroach allergies is to keep these bugs out of your home, the ACAAI says. Keeping your kitchen as clean as possible can help you eliminate cockroaches. Try to avoid leaving dirty dishes in the sink, and take out your trash regularly. Wipe your sink, counter and stove, and sweep and mop the kitchen floor. Cockroaches can live in hospitals, too, so try to avoid leaving crumbs or spills in the break room.
 

Control Indoor Moisture

Mold spores float through the air like pollen, and they can be a big problem during the winter months, the Cleveland Clinic says. Mold grows in moist parts of your home, such as the bathroom or laundry room. To keep mold from growing, control indoor moisture. At home, clean up any spills or leaks as soon as possible, and when you take a bath or shower, use the exhaust fan to get rid of steam. At work, be sure to report any leaks or water damage to your assignment facility.
 
Winter can be a tough time for nurses with allergies. To feel healthy, try some or all of these tips to get your winter allergy symptoms under control.