What Should I Do Now That I Know What Causes Winter Allergies In Florida
Dealing with allergies during any season can be a miserable affair. Unfortunately, since allergies seem so ubiquitous and can disappear for months, its common to deem allergies as annoying but unavoidable.
However, visiting an ENT doctor can be transformational, especially for those with chronic allergies. Dr. Napoleon G. Bequer is one of the most experienced ENT and balloon sinuplasty doctors in the Tampa and West Palm Beach areas. He and his staff at Sinus Solutions of South Florida have helped thousands of patients get long-term relief from seasonal and/or chronic allergies in just a few short appointments.
Its never too early to get out in front of your winter allergies. For more information, call us at 561-790-7744 or request a consultation online today.
What You Can Do To Prevent Winter Allergies
A big problem with winter allergies is that cold-weather lifestyles can turn a simple allergic reaction into something worse, says Dr. Jones.
People are turning up their heaters, which makes the indoor air even drier, he says, and that leads to dry noses, which increases the incidence of nosebleeds and skin cracking. This, in turn, boosts infection risk when a persons nasal passages are already inflamed from allergies. Dr. Jones recommends using nasal saline rinses to lower the risk of contracting a secondary viral infection.
It may not be possible to get rid of winter allergies entirely, but you can reduce exposure to allergens, at least in your own surroundings. Dr. Jones, Dr. Rank, and other allergy experts offer these tips for minimizing indoor allergen exposure in winter:
If youve done all you can to allergy-proof your home but you still have symptoms, it might not be your fault, Dr. Jones adds. Public areas, such as workplaces, can have the same allergy-inducing conditions as your home: dry air, dust, and dust mites.
In addition, pet owners often get dander on their clothes and unwittingly transport it into public places. The level of cat dander in public places is high enough to trigger an allergy, Dr. Jones says.
Whats Causing Your Winter Allergies
For many people, its normal to start sniffling as spring flowers bloomor as ragweed starts to circulate when summer turns to fall. But, when its cold enough to sip hot cocoa by a fire, it should mean allergens are goneright? Unfortunately, winter allergies dont take the holiday off.
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At What Point Should Parents Take Their Child Into An Allergist
The first thing you want to do is control your child’s symptoms by avoiding suspected allergens and irritants. Parents should:
- Keep windows closed.
- Run central air or heat.
- Take time to wash your child’s hands and face when they come inside.
- Use high-efficiency particulate air filters in bedrooms.
It’s also wise to invest in dust mite covers, while making sure to wash sheets in hot water and taking care to keep pets out of certain rooms. Make sure your pediatrician is aware of the issue. They may prescribe medications such as oral antihistamines, nasal steroids, non-steroidal nasal sprays, eye drops and sublingual therapy for pollen. If medications and avoidance have not controlled your child’s symptoms, they should be evaluated by an allergist.
Sniffles And Itchy Eyes In Winter It Could Be Allergies
Bad news, allergy sufferers winter wont necessarily give you a break.
There are what we call perennial allergens that never really go away, said Dr. Anne Ellis, professor and chair of the division of allergy and immunology at Queens University.
Things like house dust mites, which are microscopic spider-like insects that live in our mattress and pillow, certain moulds can live indoors in homes, and obviously if people have pets cats and dogs they usually allow them in the house and theyre not leaving, because its wintertime.
Mice also like to come inside during the winter, said Dr. Paul Keith, an associate professor in McMaster Universitys division of allergy and clinical immunology. These rodents can also be an allergy trigger for many people, he said, if they get into the house.
Part of the problem is that we spend more time indoors during the winter, Ellis said, which is not a great environment for allergy sufferers.
In winter, people usually keep their houses closed up and dont have air conditioners running or windows open which means allergens can build up in the closed area, she said. Heaters can make the air drier, which is also irritating for some.
These arent the same as seasonal allergies though.
Winter is also cold season, she said, and it can be tricky to tell the difference between an allergy and an infection.
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Can You Get Allergies In The Winter
If youre a seasonal allergy sufferer, you might feel protected from allergens once the weather turns chilly. After all, theres a lot less pollen in the air. The bad news? Winter allergies also exist and pose real problems for many people. Winter allergies are often perennial allergies,1 meaning they can take hold at any point in the year, rather than being restricted to the spring, summer and fall.
Allergies stemming from cold weather are not triggered by pollen but by culprits such as mold spores, mildew, dust mites and pet dander2.
Remember that colds tend to be more widespread during winter. So, its always worth checking whether youre suffering from a cold or winter allergies before taking any action.
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You may be referred to a specialist for further tests and treatment if it’s not clear what’s causing your symptoms or they’re severe.
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What Are Winter Allergy Symptoms
If you have seasonal allergies, the symptoms of winter allergies will be very familiar. These include:
- Watery, itchy eyes
- Dark circles under the eyes, known as allergic shiners caused by nasal congestion
- Runny or stuffy nose
- Rashes or dry, itchy skin
- Morning headaches
- Sore or itchy throat
- Wheezing and shortness of breath if you have allergic asthma
Since colds and the flu are common in winter, it can be hard to tell if your symptoms are allergies. If your symptoms continue past the 10-day mark, it is likely allergies even if you have never had them before. Your doctor may refer you to an allergist for tests and diagnosis.
What Triggers Winter Allergies
Mold and pet dander are the top allergens that cause a host of bothersome symptoms. During the winter, youre more likely to be stuck indoors in close contact with your pets, which can make symptoms worse.
Wet, decaying leaves and other yard debris make a perfect breeding ground for mold. Spending time in your yard gives mold the opportunity to find its way into your home by clinging to your shoes and clothes. Mold can also hitch a ride inside on damp firewood.
In mild climates like Texas, there are few hard freezes and frosts to kill plant and tree pollen, which is a major allergy trigger. Combine all these allergens in a closed up house with recirculating central heat, and youre likely to have all the components necessary for an allergy attack.
Other winter allergy triggers include:
- Dust mites microscopic bugs that live in pillows, mattresses, and other bedding. Their invisible droppings circulate through the air, leading to allergy symptoms.
- Cockroaches a big allergy and asthma trigger for those who are allergic to their saliva, feces and dried out shells.
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Why Do I Have Allergies In The Winter And What Can I Do About It
Dust and Allergens
Furnaces force the circulation of airborne dust that contains lint, fabric fibers, bacteria, food particles, and animal dander. The most common types of winter allergies are dust mites, animal dander and mold.
Dust mites thrive in humid environments and are more prevalent in bedrooms, mattresses, pillows and bedding. Fecal particles from dust mites become airborne, and patients can suffer from symptoms of allergies year-round.
Our cats and dogs can be a huge cause of allergy problems in the winter. Cats and dogs have many identified allergens. These allergens are found inside homes, workplaces, and schools even when there are no pets living there.
Indoor molds are another big cause of allergies in the winter. Mold thrives in damp, humid environments. Especially basements and bathrooms. Specific outdoor molds that are prevalent outdoors can also be brought inside.
Is It Possible To Prevent Winter Allergens
Winter allergens arenât going anywhere, but it is possible to reduce your exposure to them. Maintaining a clean home is your best option to reduce allergy symptoms during the winter.
Here are a few tips to help:
- Frequently clean children’s toys.
- Install an indoor air filter in your home.
- Use dust mite-proof encasings on your pillows, mattresses, and box springs.
- Keeping pets out of sleeping areas will keep dander from where you sleep.
- Immediately wipe down wet surfaces, especially in the bathrooms and kitchen, to keep mold from growing. Good insulation can also help reduce condensation on cold surfaces, which will cut down on mold.
- If you are the one who is suffering during the winter months, have someone else in your house do the dusting and vacuuming. And if you can, leave the house while the cleaning is being done.
- Change your clothes, bathe and wash your hair after playing with your pet and before going to bed.
- Wash bedding in hot water once a week to reduce the dust mites in your bedding.
- Avoid down pillows and comforters, which form a welcoming habitat for dust mites and can, in and of themselves, be allergenic.
- Remove wall-to-wall carpet. Animal dander and mold can become trapped in your carpet, and dampness can accumulate, creating an environment for dust mites and mold.
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How Can You Tell The Difference Between A Cold And Allergies
This can be hard for parents to decipher. The average child can contract viral colds as often as ten times per year. These infections typically last for a week or two and then go away. But chronic allergy symptoms linger for weeks and often aren’t accompanied by a fever. Exposure to specific triggers such as pollen, pets and dust can often make your child’s symptoms worsen quickly. But allergy symptoms typically fade when the trigger is removed. If your child is constantly being treated with antibiotics without any obvious benefit, it’s important to have them evaluated for allergies.
S To Minimize Winter Allergies
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Things You Can Do At Home To Tame Winter Allergies
The Truth About Winter Allergies
There are two types of allergies: environmental and seasonal. Environmental allergies include dust mite, mold spore and pet dander allergies. It does not matter what time of year it is, if the allergens are present in your home, anyone who is allergic to them may have symptoms like itchy, watery eyes, stuffy nose, sneezing and possibly hives. However, during the cold season, indoor air pollution may get worse because you may spend more time inside.
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What Can Trigger Winter Allergies
It may seem strange but some of the oddest things can trigger winter allergies. When you pull out your holiday decorations, make sure that they are mold-free. Having these decorations out around your house when they are covered in dust or mold can absolutely cause you to experience winter allergies. Additionally, its a great idea to invest in a humidifier in order to keep allergens in your home to a minimum.
What Is Cedar Fever
Cedar fever is worth mentioning separately from other winter allergies because it’s relatively unique. Whereas indoor allergens cause most winter allergies, cedar fever is caused by an outdoor allergen: the pollen of Ashe juniper trees, a type of cedar tree that is native to Central Texas.
Cedar fever typically begins in late December and lasts through early February. Symptoms include all of the usual allergy symptoms, such as sneezing, congestion, and watery eyes. While the specific tree that causes this condition is only found in certain areas of the country, it can cause flu-like symptoms across the American southwest.
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Common Symptoms Of Winter Allergies:
Some common symptoms of indoor, winter allergies are sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, coughing and postnasal drip, and itchy eyes, nose and throat.
If you experience a fever and achiness, its more than likely a cold or flu. But symptoms shouldnt last more than 10 days for a cold or flu.
Other winter allergy symptoms include sinus headaches, bronchitis, shortness of breath, asthma, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose and dark circles under the eyes.
Keep The House Clean From Dust
You would think in the winter that allergies would be less common. For example, pollen isnt so much of a problem since many plants arent blooming like in the fall or spring.However, there is one big difference.When it turns cold, we turn on our heating systems. For many of us this means dust that has collected in the HVAC system is now blown throughout your home. Dust mite allergies are also a problem.It is good to have your ducts cleaned from time to time to help relieve winter allergy symptoms triggered by indoor contaminants like dust.Another tip is to regularly replace your furnace filters. While no one likes to replace them every few months, this is important in helping to keep your home clean and minimizes the stress on your HVAC system.It is far cheaper to replace the air filters than to use more energy to heat your home or repairs to your heating system.
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Winter Allergies Vs A Cold
Winter allergies and colds have common symptoms. Colds, however, come from viruses and spread through contact with another person who carries it. Allergies, on the other hand, are triggered from an allergen or irritant and produce a histamine reaction.
The immune system produces a histamine response to defend against allergens by making you sneeze, tear up, or itch. These responses aim to help you expel that allergen from your body. Antihistamines are commonly prescribed for allergies because they soften the bodys response.
Timing is a clue. Colds usually last several days or a week, ending when your body fights off the virus. Allergies last a lot longer because they persist as long as the allergen is around.
What Are Common Winter Allergies
Dust is everywhere. Dust contains skin flakes and hair from people and pets, tracked-in dirt, clothing fibers, crumbs, and insect parts. Carpets, furniture, window treatments, and bedding are dust catchers. Filters in your HVAC ducts get dirty or clogged, poorly sealed windows allow pollen and dirt in, and vacuuming releases dust into the air.
Dust mites feed on the very things that make up dust, such as skin cells, insect parts and animal dander. They are present in almost every home, lurking in bedding, furniture, and carpets. Their feces contain digestive enzymes that allow them to get energy from their waste, but this enzyme can be a cocktail of allergens for humans.
Mold is also lurking indoors. It thrives in dark, moist places like bathrooms, basements and under sinks. Mold spores float through the air and are found even if conditions arent favorable. In the right conditions, they will grow on fabric, paper, wood, glass, and plastic.
- Extra moisturizing use heavy lotion/oil and wear socks overnight
- Bathe with cooler water avoid stripping skin of natural oils
- Eat healthy fats may improve your skins moisture barrier
- Drink plenty of water for supple skin
- Use a humidifier if dry air is a trigger
- Gently exfoliate feet regularly to rid them of dead skin cells
- Avoid scratching or peeling flaky skin
- Wear comfortable shoes allow feet to breathe
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