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What to Look for in Winter Allergies


What to Look for in Winter Allergies

What can we be allergic to in a season where nearly everything is dormant or dead?

In the winter months it may be hard to tell whether your stuffed nose and watery eyes are caused by allergies due to pet dander and dust mites, or by a winter cold. Fortunately, a little time is all it takes to answer the question. A cold usually doesn’t last for more than 10 days. Allergies can linger for weeks or even months. Also, colds and flu sometimes have a fever and aches and pains—symptoms that don’t usually come with allergies.

If you have pollen allergies, you may get a break when the weather gets cold. But if you have indoor allergies—such as mold and dust mites—spending more time indoors during the winter months may affect your allergy symptoms.

When it gets cold and your furnace kicks on, it sends dust, mold spores, and dust mites into the air. They can get into your nose and can trigger a reaction.

The mountain cedar pollinates in the winter. Airborne tree pollen can travel many miles to affect patients in distant areas, even in places where the allergenic trees don’t grow.

Here are some tips to help minimize allergies:

  • Throw out shower curtains, wallpaper, or carpeting that have mold. To help control dust mites and mold, use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50%.Use a HEPA air filter to clean dust from the air.
  • Bring your own pillow when traveling.
  • Stay indoors when the wind is whipping up damp leaves in the yard, and keep indoor allergens to a minimum by mopping, sweeping, and dusting often.
  • Washing your hands and face frequently reduces the number of allergens you carry—and spread.
  • When allergy symptoms are intense, take a shower; it removes allergens from your hair and encourages you to change the clothes that allergens may be clinging to.
  • A bonus: The steam of a hot bath or shower may relieve allergy symptoms like sinus congestion.
  •  Most bedrooms are havens for pet dander and dust mites. You can keep these and other allergens down by washing your sheets, pillowcases, and blankets in hot water. A weekly wash is great, but twice a month is fine, too.
  • A saline nasal spray is a great remedy to relieve the nasal congestion that may be part and parcel of winter allergies.
  • When you’re blowing your nose all the time and the thermostat is cranked up, it’s easy to get dehydrated. Drink plenty of water, eat more water-rich fruits and veggies, or enjoy hot tea. A side benefit to hot drinks: their steam may reduce nasal congestion and help to thin out mucus.
  • There are also some supplements to help relieve allergies and their symptoms no matter what the season.


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