Some people think it’s not possible to get allergies in the colder months. The truth is — you can get allergies any time of the year especially if you are exposed to harmful allergens. People are even more likely to get winter allergies when they are mostly indoors.
In the winter months, people will be busy decorating their homes. This only increases their exposure to allergens. People will be busy going to their basements and attics to take out the stored decorations, and chances are moisture is likely trapped in plastic bins where the decors are stored. Artificial trees may carry a lot of dust that will irritate your nasal passages. Your respiratory tract can also be irritated by dry air, which can be a consequence of using heaters, that are normally turned on in winter.
You can get allergies during the winter months especially when you do not have preventive measures in place.
What are the Causes of Winter Allergies?
Several indoor allergens can trigger allergies. Some of them include:
Dust mites – You’ll find them everywhere – in the air filters, furnace, bed and your couch. It may be difficult to get rid of them completely but there are ways to manage it. Regular washing of bedsheets, vacuuming and changing your HVAC filters can reduce dust.
Mold – They thrive in humid and damp areas usually in the restrooms and basements. It can trigger allergies especially when they get into the air, through their spores.
Pet Dander – They stick to carpets, beds, upholstery and other surfaces indoors. You can get rid of most of this if pets don’t spend a lot of time indoors.
Cockroaches – Cockroaches live in moist areas such as under the sinks, behind kitchen appliances and cupboards. To get rid of roaches, clean your home frequently, fix leaks and never leave out crumbs or food.
What Are the Symptoms of Winter Allergies?
Below are some symptoms you need to watch out for:
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Watery and itchy eyes
- Throat itching
- Skin rashes
People with severe allergies may experience symptoms such as feeling anxious or exhausted, tightness of the chest and breathing rapidly. Always consult a physician if you have some serious symptoms.
It’s also important to determine whether your symptoms are indeed signs of winter allergies or the cold.
Are they Allergies or Just the Cold?
Colds are transmitted by a person infected with the cold virus. You get allergies when exposed to allergens that make your immune system overreact. Both have similar symptoms but allergy symptoms can last for months and even longer, while colds usually last for a few days to up to two weeks.
How Are Allergies Diagnosed?
If your symptoms last for weeks, it may be better for you to see a physician. You can also directly visit an allergist who will be asking about your symptoms. He may also perform a skin test to check if your skin would react to the allergen. Others may perform blood tests.
How do you Prevent Allergies?
There are ways to minimize the symptoms of your allergies:
1. Consider buying a protective casing for your pillows and mattresses to reduce your exposure to dust mites.
2. Since dust mites stick to clothes and upholstery covers, ensure that you clean them in hot water to eliminate or prevent the build-up of dust mites.
3. Vacuum your home regularly to remove allergens on surfaces, preferably with a HEPA filter.
4. Use detergent and water or a bleach solution for cleaning surfaces that have mold. Always wear protective equipment and ventilate the area when using bleach, and do not mix it with other products.
5. Make it a habit to always clean as you go especially in the kitchen and dining areas.
6. As much as possible, fix any pipe leaks in the basement or bathroom to prevent mold build up.
7. If you have pets, keep them out of your bedroom or kitchen. Consider building a home for them outside.
8. Ensure that you clean your chimney annually to avoid the dust that can trigger allergies. If possible, consider getting a fireplace door instead of a fireplace screen.
9. Place all of your unused items in air-tight boxes or containers to prevent mold and dust build-up.
10. A nasal saline solution may help you relieve nasal congestions.
How do you Effectively Manage the Symptoms of Allergies?
Make sure that you are hydrated especially when you have a runny nose and your heater is cranked up.
Keep in mind that too little moisture indoors can irritate your throat and nose. On the other hand, high humidity may lead to mildew or mold growth. Consider tracking the moisture in the air, keeping humidity levels between 30 and 50%.
What are Some of the Allergy Treatment Available?
While allergies can be avoided by reducing exposure to allergens, there are clinical medications that also helps. Consult a physician to find out which medicine is best for you and how to use them properly. Here are some of the medications that they can prescribe.
Antihistamines – can help reduce itching and sneezing.
Nasal sprays – Some of these sprays can help reduce the swelling caused by allergies.
Nasal irrigation treatment – This treatment involves clearing out allergens by sending distilled clean water or saline solution down to your nasal passages.
Allergy shots – If you’re constantly getting severe allergy symptoms, talk to your physician about getting immunotherapy. This treatment helps your body become immune or tolerant to substances causing allergies by exposing it to small amounts of allergens.
Purify Indoor Air in your Homes
Having cleaner air in your homes contribute to good health. Air purifiers are effective at removing allergens from the air and improving indoor air quality. Talk to us so we can discuss the benefits of air purifiers to having cleaner indoor air.