Gesundheit: Millions will suffer from indoor allergies as we hunker down this winter

Mold, pet dander and even fabric on pillows, chairs and blankets can be the reason behind your itchy, watery eyes

The colder temperatures across much of the country will bring much-needed relief to people who suffer from outdoor allergies, but as we transition into fall and winter, indoor allergies become more of an issue for millions of Americans.

The Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America estimates around 50 million Americans suffer from allergies associated with ragweed. But as the temperatures start to drop, the release of pollen into the air slows.

And a frosty morning will outright kill the plant.

Need pollen relief? Wish for frost

"So you might get relief with the first frost from your ragweed allergies, but as you come inside, there are indoor allergies that you need to be aware of," WebMD Chief Medical Officer Dr. John Whyte said on FOX Weather Wednesday morning.

Many people stay inside for more extended periods of time in the fall and winter. It's warm, the windows are closed and there isn't enough good ventilation to keep the air circulating.

"So we're going to start to see allergies typically from dust," Whyte said. 

But there are several other allergens indoors that can create issues.

Mold, pet dander and even the fabric on the pillows, chairs and blankets we use every day can be the reason for your itchy, watery eyes.

So how can you limit the number of allergens in your home?

Whyte suggests getting a dehumidifier.

"That's going to be a way to reduce humidity in your home, and that's going to get rid of mold," he said.

It's also a good idea to start getting back into the habit of wiping down the surfaces inside your home. Not only will that help get rid of dust, but it will also help get rid of bacteria that could make us sick.

"People have traditionally liked wall-to-wall carpeting, but that traps a lot of dust, mold and pet dander," Whyte said

And if you wear a mask when you vacuum, that could help you avoid getting dust into your nasal passage or lungs.

Many people also bring plants inside to keep them alive during the fall and winter, but that's bringing pollen into your home. So Whyte suggests limiting the number of plants you have in your house.

And with kids going back to school, they're likely going to bring germs back home with them at the end of the day. So, how can you tell the difference between allergies and a cold?

"There are a couple of things to think about," Whyte said. "Fever or a high temperature is typically common with a cold or the flu. You don't see that with allergies."

Itchiness and runny eyes are also classic signs of allergies.

"I always focus on the eyes," he said. "It's often other parts of the body that are itching. You don't see that in cold and flu."