When the weather turns cold, the odds of some members of your family getting sick with a cold or the flu tend to increase. However, sometimes a cough, a sniffle, or a runny nose may be produced by allergies, and it can be difficult to tell the difference. While the growing season tends to cause allergies triggered by pollen, the dry winter months can wreak havoc on those who suffer from allergies due to different types of triggers. If winter allergies are causing misery in your home, there are several strategies you can use to help eliminate their cause.

1. Turn Up Your Water Heater

You may have your water heater turned to a lower temperature to save money, but if you suffer from winter allergies, you may be doing your symptoms more harm than good. Dust mites tend to thrive during the winter when your home is closed up and can gather on pillowcases and comforters, and washing your linens in lukewarm water will not destroy these bothersome, tiny creatures. To eliminate them, wash your bedding and sleepwear in water that is at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit and change them up to twice a week to reduce allergens.

2. Keep Humidity Levels Low

If you live in an area with a high winter humidity level, then consider buying a dehumidifier for one or more rooms of your home. When the humidity of your home’s interior is high, it can contribute to the growth of mold spores. These spores can multiply quickly and trigger moderate to severe allergy attacks, depending on your sensitivity. The lower the humidity, the less mold spores can develop, so it is a good idea to keep your home’s levels under fifty percent over the winter months.

3. Install an Exhaust Fan in Your Kitchen

While you probably already know the bathroom is typically the most humid room in the house, your kitchen may also encourage the growth of mold spores and dust mites, especially if you have shelving. Dust can gather there, on the top of your fridge, or on top of cabinets that are not flush with your ceiling, which is an ideal breeding ground for dust mites. Cooking can raise the humidity in your kitchen as well, and installing an exhaust fan can help keep dust and humidity levels down.

If you install an exhaust fan in your kitchen, you may want to ensure that anything it draws in is pushed outside but into an area that your family does not frequent. Install them away from patios and porches, as this infographic from the University of Cincinnati claims that understanding and avoiding your allergy triggers is an important key to staying healthy.

4. Keep Your Furnace Maintained

While your furnace keeps you and your family warm during the winter months, it can also trigger allergies in those who are vulnerable. To avoid inviting additional allergens into your home via your furnace ducts and filters, have it professionally cleaned before turning it on and ask the technicians to install filters that are designed to catch and trap allergens.

The winter months can bring many allergy triggers for you and your family. However, when you understand what causes your allergies, you can take steps to prevent them from entering your home all season long.