Sneezing, sniffling, itchy eyes? Spring and fall are not the only time people suffer from allergies.

It’s true, when the weather becomes cold there is less risk of being exposed to pollen, or other outdoor allergens that are present during the spring months. However, those who suffer from allergies during the winter typically experience symptoms that stem from indoor allergens, rather than outdoor ones. So what triggers winter allergies?

Dust Mites

Dust collects everywhere, all year, and with a buildup of dust – comes dust mites. Dust mites can live anywhere in your home, especially in places such as heating and air conditioning systems, bedding, furniture, and rugs. Fortunately, there are ways to reduce them, and at the same time reduce your allergy symptoms.

Follow these steps and keep those dust mites in check:

  1. Regularly wash bedding
  2. Vacuum furniture frequently
  3. Dust furniture
  4. Replace heating and cooling air filters
  5. Adopt a regular vacuuming schedule, which can also help you get those daily steps in

Pet Dander

If you have a pet, you know all about their hair and how it gets everywhere! Pet dander can spread the same way, and cause allergies to flare up. Especially during the colder months, when your pet spends more time curled up on your couch or favorite rug, pet dander can linger. It can even attach to your clothing, which can cause further irritation to your allergies.

Mold

Having mold in your home can lead to allergy flare ups. Airborne mold can cause wheezing, congestion, coughing, and other symptoms similar to asthma, and winter illnesses like colds. Many of the winter months are damp from precipitation, and moist conditions are ideal for mold growth. It can collect in areas you don’t see often, like utility closets, crawl spaces, garages, or attics so it’s a good idea to inspect these areas frequently.

Luckily there are simple ways to prevent winter allergens around your home. In addition to taking an over the counter allergy medicine if you are experiencing symptoms of winter allergies, you can also:

  • Use a dust mite cover on your bed
  • Use a dehumidifier
  • Vacuum regularly
  • Look out for and remove any mold
  • Fix leaks that can lead to damp environments

Learning the symptoms of winter allergies versus winter illnesses like the common cold can help determine how to treat your symptoms. For allergies, most symptoms can be treated with an over the counter medication or by eliminating the allergen.

Symptoms of common winter allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Stuffy/runny nose
  • Itchy throat
  • Itchy/watery eyes

If you are experiencing these symptoms, take a look at what could be causing the irritation, and seek medication, or see your health care provider to learn more about treating winter allergies.

However, if you are experiencing the above symptoms, in addition to others, you could have a cold or other common winter illness. Ways to differentiate winter allergies from the common cold are:

  • Duration of symptoms
  • Time of year
  • Body aches and fever are not common symptoms of allergies
  • Itchy eyes or watery eyes are not common with a cold

If you are suffering from winter allergies, don’t worry, relief is right around the corner! If over the counter medications are not reducing your symptoms, you can visit any Patient First center between 8am and 8pm, no appointment is necessary!


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