Winter doesn’t just mean cloudy days, warm sweaters, and New Year’s resolutions, it also means another wave of allergies. Just like in the summer, many people experience symptoms like runny noses or itchy eyes during the coldest months, for a variety of reasons. Luckily, AltaMed has your back. Here’s everything you need to know about managing your allergies in the winter.
Cold Vs. Allergies
It’s a feeling that’s all too familiar. You wake up one dark, winter morning with a runny nose and body aches. Getting a cold during the winter is very common, and many people with allergies may misdiagnose themselves as a result. Correctly identifying your symptoms is the first step to feeling better. Here are the key differences between winter allergies and the common cold:
- Itchy eyes and/or sore throat
- Snot is often clear in color
- Symptoms last several weeks or indefinitely
- Aches and chill
- Snot is often cloudy and discolored
- Symptoms last about a week
If your symptoms those of winter allergies, the next step is finding the cause.
People have allergic reactions to lots of different things. During the winter, cooler weather creates the ideal conditions to spread and exasperate the following common irritants:
Your furry friend may be a perfect to snuggle when the temperature drops, but keeping
pets such as cats or dogs inside during the winter can lead to more pet dander in the air. When dander, (dead skin flakes), is breathed in, it can trigger allergies.
As the temperature drops, dying leaves become a breeding ground for mold and mildew. Exposure to clothing and shoes allows theses irritants a free ride inside your home, where they can live and spread further. People with allergies may then experience itchiness, sneezing, and runny noses.
You may just be trying to keep warm, but turning on the heat in the winter can dry out the air in your home. As a result, your sinuses can become dehydrated, leading to inflammation. Unfortunately, this makes it easier for your allergies to act up.
AltaMed knows you’d rather be enjoying the winter season than blowing your nose. Luckily, there are steps you can take to minimize and manage your winter allergies. Try these helpful tips:
- Install a humidifier to balance the dry air caused by heating your home. Remember though, you don’t want to over-humidify either, as this can cause mold. Both doctors and construction professionals recommend a target of 50 percent humidity.
- Stay hydrated. Along with a humidifier, drinking water regularly will help your body the fight irritants.
- Vacuum frequently to remove dander and other dirt particles from your floors, carpets, and furniture.
- Wash your sheets weekly using warm water, as high heat can help kill allergens. For extra protection, try adding hypoallergenic cases for pillows and mattresses to trap dust mites.
- Give your pet a bath once per week, and be sure to keep them out of your bedroom if you suffer from allergies.
- Over-the-counter medications can help relieve most allergy symptoms, from runny noses to itchy eyes. These medications will be most effective if you start taking them early. If you suffer from allergies every winter, try starting on medicine shortly before your symptoms usually appear.
Want more tips or have questions you’d like answered? Stop by an AltaMed Care location today! You can find your nearest location by clicking here: https://www.altamed.org/find