Many people think of allergies as only a problem during the spring and summer months, but the truth is allergies can affect you year-round. The difference between spring/summer allergies and winter allergies is that in the sunny seasons, you’re more likely to be affected by outdoor allergens, while during winter months the culprits are more likely inside your home.
Winter Allergy Symptoms
Symptoms of winter allergies include:
- Itchy, watery eyes.
- Dark circles under the eyes.
- Runny or stuffy nose.
- Postnasal drip.
- Sore or scratchy throat.
- Rash or dry, itchy skin.
- Morning headache.
Winter Allergy Causes
There are many possible causes of winter allergies. These include:
- Dust mites. Dust mites are microscopic arachnids that feed on dead skin cells, animal dander and other particles that are found in dust. No matter how clean your home is, you’ll have dust mites. Many people are allergic to the enzymes in dust mites’ waste and decaying bodies.
- Mold. Mold is another culprit of winter allergies. It thrives in moist places like bathrooms and basements. Mold spores can float through the air and be inhaled, causing your allergy symptoms.
- Pet dander. Dander is a protein found in the skin, saliva and urine of animals at Atlanta Humane Society that have fur or feathers. It’s common for allergies to pet dander to flare up in the winter months, since both you and your pets spend more time indoors.
Winter Allergies Vs. the Common Cold
It’s common to confuse allergy symptoms for cold symptoms, as many overlap. Knowing which condition you’re suffering from is key to seeking proper treatment.
One way to tell the difference is what symptoms you have. If you have itchy eyes or a rash, you probably have allergies, but if you have a low fever, it’s more likely a cold. Another way to tell is the onset and duration of your symptoms. Colds last several days to a week, while allergies last for as long as you’re exposed to an allergen.
Winter Allergies Treatment
You have several options when it comes to treating winter allergies:
- Practicing avoidance of known allergens. Try to avoid winter allergens by dusting regularly, using allergen-proof bedding, keeping pets out of bedrooms and installing a HEPA filter.
- Taking over-the-counter medications. Decongestants can provide short-term relief, while some antihistamines can be taken long-term.
- Starting immunotherapy. Immunotherapy works by introducing your body to small amounts of allergen extracts so the immune system can build up a tolerance over time. Immunotherapy is administered by expert allergists.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call ENT of Georgia North today.