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Guarding against winter allergies

Many consider the "allergy seasons" to be fall and spring, when pollen and mold spore counts are high, but winter also poses its share of indoor allergens. In fact, for those who are sensitive to dust, dander or mold, the cold season can be the most trying season of all.

Because most individuals spend the majority of their time indoors in winter, these and other common allergens are encountered on a more frequent, constant basis. This can lead to a running series of coughs, sniffles and red or watery eyes that can make the time you spend in your home quite unbearable.

"People...are susceptible to allergies as they tend to stay indoors 90 percent of the time [due to the harsh weather]," Dr. Abey Abraham, specialist physician at Aster Medical Centre, told Gulf News. "Indoor air quality plays a big role as allergies can be triggered by dust mites, pet dander, perfumes and micro-organisms living in air-conditioning vents, among other things."

Those looking to rid their homes of these winter irritants should take several steps before the season sets in. All air filters for furnaces or other heating units should be cleaned or replaced before the units are turned on for the season. If you're concerned that your home may have been affected by mold, have an inspector conduct a more thorough investigation as soon as possible - otherwise, the mold will set in and continue to grow over the wintertime, leaving you with a much bigger problem. Finally, the most important step you can take to protect the air within your home is to invest in a medical-grade home air purifier. These devices can help alleviate your symptoms by removing over 99 percent of airborne allergens.

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