If you are perpetually stuffy, have itchy/watery eyes, postnasal drip, and pressure in your head during winter, you might suffer from what is often referred to as “winter allergies.” Those allergic to weed, grass, or tree pollens might get some relief during the colder months, but there are indoor allergens present year-round that cause the same miserable symptoms. During these colder months, we often spend more time indoors with little ventilation and are exposed to more indoor allergens like mold, dust mites, cockroaches, and animal dander.
Here are some tips to help those suffering from winter allergies find some relief:
- Dust mites especially love your bedroom. Cover your pillows and mattress in allergen-resistant covers and wash your bedding weekly in hot water then dry on the highest temperature setting.
- If you cannot remove the carpeting in your home, vacuum regularly to remove dust mites that live in carpeting and upholstery.
- Use a HEPA filter in your home to remove dust and other allergens from the air.
- Use a humidifier. Dry air causes dry nasal passages, which are more easily inflamed by allergens. Invest in a device called a hygrometer to check humidity levels and keep them between 30 and 50 percent. Too much humidity can cause mold to grow, which can also present problems for allergy and asthma sufferers.
- Bathe pets frequently as they too stay indoors more during the colder winter months. Since it is the dander from pets and not the fur, simply clipping won’t help.
- Change air filters frequently. Forced-air furnaces circulate airborne dust containing lint, animal dander, bacteria, fabric fiber, and food material.
- See a board-certified allergist to determine what is causing your allergy or asthma problems. An allergy test will confirm what triggers your allergic symptoms. You will receive your results within minutes and a treatment plan can be prepared to set you on the path to better health.
Winter is also a time when various viral illnesses are spreading. Respiratory illnesses can be especially dangerous for people with asthma. Remember to get your annual flu shot, increase hand hygiene, and avoid contact with sick individuals. Because symptoms of viral illness can be similar to allergic symptoms, it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between a cold or allergies. Remember that viral symptoms typically last between 10-14 days, whereas allergic symptoms can be prolonged. Additionally, viruses will often cause fevers, decreased appetite, and muscle aches, which are generally not caused by allergies.
If you think your symptoms might be caused by indoor allergens especially during the winter months, schedule an appointment to speak with one of our board-certified allergy and asthma specialists today. 19 locations throughout Atlanta and north Georgia.