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What Triggers Allergies In The Winter

What Are Winter Allergies

Winter Allergy: Causes, Symptoms & Prevention | Winter Ready with Max

Many people think of allergies as seasonal, caused by grass, tree and ragweed pollen. Truth is, seasonal allergies can occur nearly year-round as trees release pollen in the spring, grasses in the summertime, and weeds go to work in the fall. And if you live in a warm climate, you might experience allergies in winter because some plants may not go dormant. For example, people who live in the Southwestern United States Texas, Oklahoma, Arizona, New Mexico and Missouri may experience whats called cedar fever if exposed to the Ashe Juniper tree during winter months.

If tree, grass and weed exposure trigger allergies in spring, summer and fall, then what could trigger allergy symptoms in wintertime? Winter allergies are less likely to be caused by outdoor triggers instead, they are triggered by exposure to allergens inside your home or office.

What’s Your Winter Allergies Risk

It hardly seems fair, but if you’re prone to summer allergies, chances are you’re at risk for allergies when the weather turns cold, too.

The reason is simple: Many of those warm weather irritants are around all year, like pet dander, mold, and mildew. And once you settle indoors for the chilly holiday season — the windows closed, the heater on — your exposure to these allergens spikes, says Asriani Chiu, MD, associate professor of pediatrics and medicine , at the College of Wisconsin.

The best way to handle winter allergies is to understand what’s triggering them and why. To help you do that, WebMD went to the experts and got their tips on what causes the allergies of winter, and how you can take control.

Tips For Combating Winter Allergies

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:

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.

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Why Does Cold Weather Cause Sinus Issues

Cold weather can cause ear, nose and throat issues, but the temperature is not usually the main problem. Winter sees the spread of many viruses that may lead to infections in the sinuses, throat and ears. For allergy sufferers, being close to allergens for long periods causes sinus inflammation and subsequent ENT problems. If your symptoms clear within around 10 days, you probably had a cold or viral infection. When symptoms extend for longer periods, this can indicate allergy issues.

Are Pet Allergies Worse In The Winter

3 Causes of Winter Allergies and How to Combat Them ...

Typically, yes. Allergies to pet dander are very common some people cant even be in the same room as a dog or cat if they have a severe case. The prolonged exposure to your pet being inside in a confined space during the winter months can inherently lead to a surge in symptoms. To help, bathe your pets weekly, if possible, to wash away dander and other allergens from their fur4.

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Winter Allergies Vs Colds

Cold and winter allergy symptoms can feel very similar, making it difficult to distinguish one from the other.

It is possible to develop allergies at any age or even to become allergic to the same substances in the same house after years of no reaction. The fact that a person has not previously had allergies does not necessarily mean their symptoms are from a cold.

Symptoms that last longer than a few weeks are usually the result of allergies. Symptoms that appear suddenly, after weeks or months in the same home, may be from a cold, especially if a person does not have a history of allergies.

There are some symptoms that can help distinguish allergies from a cold:

  • Colds can cause a fever, but airborne allergens will not change a personâs body temperature.
  • A cold may cause aches and pains, while allergies typically do not.
  • Sore throat is common with colds, but it occurs less frequently with allergies.
  • A person with a cold may feel chest pressure. By contrast, only people with asthma who have allergies typically report chest pain.
  • Coughs are more common with colds, although they can also occur with allergies.
  • Colds go away on their own. Allergies may only self-resolve when the weather changes, and a person spends more time outside.
  • Colds typically do not cause itchy rashes or eyes, whereas allergies often do.

How Do I Get Rid Of Winter Allergies

With some effort and attention, there are many ways to manage winter allergies and limit your exposure to specific triggers.

Keeping your home clean is always a goal, but people with allergies should take extra care. Steps you can take include:

  • Dust and vacuum frequently, including under and behind furniture.
  • Reduce dust-catching fabric hard floors instead of carpet, get rid of decorative pillows or throws.
  • Use hypoallergenic covers on mattresses and pillows to reduce exposure to dust mites.
  • Wash curtains, bedding, and pillows regularly in hot water.
  • Use premium air filters in your HVAC system and clean/change often.
  • Do not delay calling the exterminator If there is any evidence of infestation .
  • Keep food well-sealed clean up counters to avoid attracting pests.
  • Watch for leaks and check damp places for mold dont allow mildew to take root.
  • Groom or bathe pets often.
  • Wash pet bedding regularly.
  • Keep bedrooms free of pets.
  • Adjust humidity according to your triggers. Use a humidifier/dehumidifier depending on your needs and avoid extremes in either direction.
  • Use an air purifier in addition to your HVAC air filters keep them clean and free of mold.
  • Keep toys clean most stuffed toys can be washed to reduce dust and dust mites.

If reducing exposure to allergens in your home isnt enough, there are over-the-counter medications available for allergies:

If you have undiagnosed allergies, you can take a skin test or blood test to pinpoint your allergy.

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Eat A High Fiber Diet:

Your body digests high fiber foods more slowly, which helps you to stay fuller longer and may help with weight control. Fiber is also beneficial for heart health and can help to reduce high triglyceride levels and LDL cholesterol levels.

If you have winter allergies, try adding some of these foods to your diet and see if you notice a difference.

What You Can Do To Help Prevent Winter Allergies

How to minimize your winter, indoor allergy symptoms

Another major issue for people with winter allergies who live in colder climates is that the cold-weather lifestyle can turn a simple allergic reaction into something much worse. When you turn up the heat inside your home, for instance, your indoor air becomes much drier. This drier air can lead to dry noses, nosebleeds, and skin cracking which, in turn, boosts infection rates of secondary viral infection when a persons nasal passages are already inflamed from allergies.

It may not be possible to eliminate winter allergies entirely, but you can reduce exposure to allergens and neutralize their threat within your home. Here are some tips to help those suffering from winter allergies find some relief:

Have questions about reducing allergens or irritants inside your home or business? We have answers! The Ecology Works has been helping folks with allergies and asthma since 1993. We can help you select the products you need to live a better, allergen-free life. Please feel free to Contact Us or message us on . No question is too small! We’re here to help.

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Causes Of Allergies In Winter

Dust Mites

Dust mitesX Dust mites A common trigger for indoor allergies. They are microscopic mites that live in the fibers of pillows, mattresses, blankets and carpet. They live off of our dead skin cells. Inhalation of their droppings can cause allergic reactions such as runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion. are microscopic bugs that live on dead human skin and pet dander. These pests are found anywhere dust particles collect. Even if youre a neat freak, its impossible to rid your home entirely of this common indoor allergenX allergen A substance that your body perceives as foreign and harmful initiates the allergic reaction..

Pet Dander

The proteins found in animals skin cells, saliva and liquid waste cause the symptoms of pet allergies. These particles are so light that they can become airborne with the slightest breeze and can stick to your shoes, clothes, skin and hair.

Mold

Pollen

In warmer climates, pollenX pollen A fine, powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower called stamens or from the male cone of a tree. allergies can be a problem all year round. Additionally, during mild winters, pollenX pollen A fine, powdery substance, typically yellow, consisting of microscopic grains discharged from the male part of a flower called stamens or from the male cone of a tree. season can start as early as January or February. Learn more about how to alleviate pollen allergy symptoms.

Tips For Preventing And Controlling Winter Allergies

Change humidifier water and filters according to manufacturer recommendations to avoid mold and bacterial contamination.

Control pet dander, hair and other residues by cleaning more regularly. Make your bedroom an allergy “safe haven” for your home. Don’t let your pet sleep in your bedroom, and wash your pet regularly. You may need other pet-free areas in the home to control this trigger and cause of allergies in the home.

Consider removing carpets, rugs and plants from your bedroom. It is a good idea to install allergenic covers on your pillows and mattress to create a barrier for dust mites.

Survey your house indoors and outdoors monthly to look for visible mold, and identify areas that are at high risk for mold formation. Examples include a pile of firewood close to the house, garden areas, damp patios or basements.

Before putting up your Christmas tree that has been in storage, spray it with a garden hose and remove all dust from your holiday decorations. Buy glass or plastic ornaments rather than fabric, which can collect more dust.

Turn on the exhaust fan when showering or cooking to remove excess humidity and odors from your home, and

To help control dust mites and mold, use a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50%.

Consider your bedroom the allergy “safe haven” of your home. Keep pets, carpets, rugs and plants out of your bedroom to avoid dust mites and mold from decaying plants.

Mop your floors regularly to remove dust.

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Get A Sound Hvac System

This will help with allergies and make you more comfortable in your home during the winter months. If youre like me, central heating is the only way to survive the winter, so if you have an HVAC system, be sure its running correctly. A dirty filter can cause all sorts of health problems including allergies. Clean or replace your filter every month during allergy season, or at least check it once a week to see if theres any dust built up on it. If so, that means the air in your home isnt coming through as cleanly as it could be. Replace the filter right away or schedule a service call before things get worse and your allergies do too!

What Are Common Winter Allergies

7 Surprising 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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Can You Have Allergies In The Winter

In the winter, cold weather and shorter days drive us inside. Our windows are closed, and many homes are built tighter, with better insulation and fewer drafts. This is good for energy savings but can lead to allergy symptoms. In effect, winter seals us into our homes with our allergens, and increased exposure may make symptoms flare.

Steer Clear Of Allergens

Considering the most prominent winter allergens are quite common in our everyday routine, staying indoors to avoid them is easier said than done.In certain parts of the United States, like the South, the winter is a time for some serious tree pollen allergies. For example, in Austin where some of our employees are located, the pollen from cedar tress causes widespread allergic reactions in January.If you cant avoid the outdoors, regularly wash your hands and face to keep pesky pet hair or mildew spores from being breathed in.Other winter allergies arise from pet dander from dogs and cats. These indoor air pollutants that originate inside your home.In this case it is important to frequently clean your home. A good HEPA vacuum cleaner will help in picking up animal dander and large dust particles.

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Cockroach Sheddings & Droppings

Cockroaches live in all types of buildings and all kinds of neighborhoods. Having these pesky critters lurking doesnt mean you have a dirty home. In fact, the National Pest Management Association reports that 63% of homes in the U.S. contain cockroach allergens. That number rises to between 78% and 98% of homes in urban areas. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology , cockroaches saliva, feces, and shedding body parts can trigger asthma and allergies.

What Should I Do Now That I Know What Causes Winter Allergies In Florida

Coping With Winter Allergies

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.

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How To Help Reduce Allergies In Winter

Clean Up

During the winter, its normal to spend more time inside. That makes cleaning even more important than usual. Dust, mop and vacuum regularly to help get rid of dust mitesX dust mites A common trigger for indoor allergies. They are microscopic mites that live in the fibers of pillows, mattresses, blankets and carpet. They live off of our dead skin cells. Inhalation of their droppings can cause allergic reactions such as runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion. and pet dander. Clean bathrooms, kitchens and laundry rooms with moldX mold Parasitic, microscopic fungi that float in the air like pollen. Mold spores are a common trigger for allergies and can be found in damp areas, such as the basement or bathroom, as well as outdoors in grass, leaf piles, hay, mulch or under mushrooms.-killing cleaners. Wash your clothes, hands and face to remove allergenic particles. Each week launder your bedding in hot water a water temperature of at least 130°F will kill dust mitesX dust mites A common trigger for indoor allergies. They are microscopic mites that live in the fibers of pillows, mattresses, blankets and carpet. They live off of our dead skin cells. Inhalation of their droppings can cause allergic reactions such as runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion..

Keep Humidity in Check

Filter the Air

Winter Cedar Pollen Allergies

Mountain cedar is a type of juniper tree found mainly in South and Central Texas that pollinates in the winter, from December through March. In the areas where it grows, it is usually the only major pollen present during the wintertime. Mountain cedar can release such large amounts of pollen that the trees can appear to be on fire, with large clouds of smoke rising from the trees. Mountain cedar is a major cause of hay fever, and people who suffer from this form of pollen allergy typically refer to it as cedar fever.

Mountain cedar allergy symptoms include sneezing, itchy eyes and nose, nasal congestion, and a runny nose. With cedar fever, a person will not actually have a fever.

Other parts of the United States have related species of cedar, juniper, and cypress trees that cause springtime allergies. Because pollen is so similar within this family of trees, a person who is allergic to mountain cedar pollen will also be allergic to pollen from juniper and cypress trees.

Seasonal Allergies Doctor Discussion Guide

Get our printable guide for your next doctor’s appointment to help you ask the right questions.

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