Understanding Winter Allergies, Their Symptoms, Treatment and Prevention

Winter allergies are every bit the same as typical seasonal allergies with the primary difference being the obvious fact that the weather is harsher and much colder.  With the presence of the colder weather, people are more apt to spend a great deal more time indoors thereby exposing themselves to the many indoor allergens present.   There are a variety of indoor allergens that can activate winter allergies with some of the most common being:

  • Dust mites
  • Airborne dust particles
  • Mold spores
  • Pet dander

As is always the case with allergens, the best way to relieve symptoms is to take necessary preventive measures.  The team of highly skilled and experienced allergists and doctors here at DOCS Urgent Care wants to share some important insight on what indoor allergens to beware of, the symptoms they may present with, and steps you can take to both prevent and treat allergy symptoms.  We also want to share data on how individuals can identify the difference between winter allergies and the common cold. 

Indoor Allergens to Be on The Lookout For

There are a number of indoor allergens that can activate symptoms during the brisk winter months, especially if you find yourself spending more time indoors because of the winter weather conditions. 

  • Dust mites live in damp, warm atmospheres.  During the winter months they get into the bedding and carpets and their presence worsens because of the excessive use of heat in the winter months.

 

  • Pet dander from cats and dogs tends to stick to carpets, indoor surfaces and beds more so in the winter months because your pets tend to spend much more time indoors in your living space throughout the winter months.

 

  • Mold spores hide within and grow in moist areas of the home such as the basement and bathrooms.  The damp winter weather can easily enhance the growth of mold spores as well as the use of humidifiers and the presence of leaking faucets or plumbing pipes. 

 

  • Airborne dust particles are typically generated through the heating system in your home.  The dust particles live in the ductwork and ventilation system and are transmitted into your living space by way of your heating system.  It is important that you change out the filter on your heating system regularly to avoid spreading airborne dust particles throughout your home.  

Winter Allergy Symptoms

The most common allergy symptoms including, but are not necessarily limited to:

  • Itchy eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Dry cough
  • Fever
  • Itchy throat
  • Breathing difficulty
  • Itchy ears
  • Lack of energy and strength
  • Feeling sick all over
  • Exhaustion
  • Wheezing

Know the Difference Between Allergies and The Common Cold

Often times people mistaken allergies for the common cold and vice versa.  Colds are typically the result of a virus that is spread to an individual from someone who has been previously infected with the cold.  Colds will end once your body is able to fight off the source of infection.  Colds can last from several days to a couple of weeks and can happen at any time during the year.  The onset of symptoms will appear a mere few days after an individual has been infected.  Colds will typically cause body aches, fevers, coughs, runny noses and a sore throat. 

Allergies, on the other hand, are the result of your own body releasing histamine that causes an inflammatory response to irritants or other forms of allergens that make their way into your respiratory tract.  The symptoms will not be alleviated until such time you stop breathing in the irritants or allergens causing the allergy symptoms.  Allergies can last several days to several months and can happen at any time of the year including the winter months.  Symptoms are quick to appear once an individual is exposed to the allergens, but present with no body aches or fever.  Allergies do, however, present with cough, runny nose, itchy and watery eyes and stuffiness.  Both allergies and the common cold can certainly cause a great deal of discomfort to those affected and depending upon how long they last can cause many physical challenges.

Treatments for Allergies

Individuals can easily treat their allergy symptoms at home with over-the-counter allergy medications that provide relief from symptoms almost immediately.  Our team of specialists can help you choose the right OTC medication to fight your allergy symptoms.  Further treatment options include a nasal irrigation treatment that consists of distilled water that is passed through your nasal passage to clear away annoying allergens.  Additionally, many people choose to use nasal sprays which help to relieve the runny nose symptoms and even the inflammation.  Finally, if all else fails, the team of allergy specialists here at DOCS highly recommends getting an allergy shot.  If you suffer with severe, ongoing symptoms, be sure to contact one of our allergy specialists and schedule your allergy shot.  Allergy shots help to build up your immunity to the allergens causing your severe symptoms and prove to provide much needed comfort.

Prevention

The best means of prevention is to simply minimize your overall exposure to those indoor allergens that frequent during the winter months.  The team of allergists here at DOCS Urgent Care recommends the following to aid in the prevention of winter allergies.

  • Use specialized bedding in order to keep dust mites away during the cold months. 
  • Be sure to regularly wash clothes and bedding in warm water to reduce any build up of dust mites or dander in your living space. 
  • Practice using a dehumidifier during the cold weather months to reduce the amount of moisture in the indoor air of your home. 
  • Vacuum regularly to remove any allergens from the surfaces in your home.  
  • Be sure to remove any mold buildup by using bleach and water. 
  • Identify any plumbing leaks and fix them to avoid moisture buildup from occurring. 
  • Try to minimize the amount of time your pets spend in your specialized areas such as the living room and bedroom.  Try to have your pets spend quality time outdoors.

The Professionals You Can Trust

The team of highly skilled and experienced allergists and specialists here at DOCS Urgent Care is steadfast in their commitment to provide the highest quality, comprehensive allergy treatments to all our valued patients.  Our team strives to deliver treatment options that are specific to the individual needs of patients and help patients to be able to minimize, prevent and treat winter allergy symptoms and be able to enjoy a more comfortable and healthy day to day living.  We strive to make a difference in the lives of our patients by providing effective treatment options to alleviate uncomfortable allergy symptoms.  For more information about our allergists, our personalized treatment options or to schedule an appointment, reach out to one of our dedicated allergy staff members today!

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