We tend to associate allergies with spring and summer when everything is blooming and growing, causing sneezing, coughing, watery eyes, congestion and a host of problems. Unfortunately, you’re not out of the woods during the winter months, although sometimes we mistake the symptoms for a cold. The same allergens that cause you such misery are still around, even when the temps drop and the snow falls. Irritants like mold, pet dander and mildew don’t magically go away, and if you stay indoors, heaters and the drier air can set off other allergens. So what can you do to battle winter allergies? There are solutions, and if you need more comprehensive care, Dr. Bradford Ress can provide expert winter allergy care and treatment at our Boca Raton, FL practice.
The Difference Between a Cold and Allergies
First, let’s talk about how you can tell the difference between a regular cold and allergies. The symptoms often mimic each other so there can be some confusion. First, colds generally last for about 3-7 days before you start to feel better. If it’s allergies, the symptoms will persist. Symptoms may even come and go throughout the season. Additional symptoms like body aches and chills may also accompany a cold.
What Causes Winter Allergies?
Pet dander – Yes we love Fido and Fluffy, but indoor fur babies carry a lot of dander, which can get on your furniture, bed, pillow, clothes, and carpets. If you bring you dogs or cats inside to escape the cold, you are also bringing in their dander.
Mold and mildew – Those beautiful fall leaves you admired are now decaying in the yard and developing mold and mildew. Even through a layer of snow, these allergens can reach you. Mildew can also be brought in via your wet clothes and shoes, while the same irritants still grow inside.
Milder climates – Those of you who live in the southeast – or snow birds who escape the cold in the northeast and Midwest – tend to have more problems with allergens. The warmer temperatures mean no frost or freezes so the allergens stick around all year.
Damp wood – Ah, we love our fires at night, but if the wood gets moist, mold can develop. Keep cut firewood outside until you are ready to use it. Smoke from the fireplace may also aggravate existing symptoms so be careful how much you breath in or how close you get to an open fire.
Here are 5 Tips for Battling Winter Allergies
- Avoid allergens – If you know what you are allergic to, take steps to avoid them. Be sure to keep your house clean and free of dust.
- Wash your hands often – Your hands carry allergens right to your nose and face. Boom! There go the sniffles and coughs. To avoid contamination, wash your hands frequently, especially right after you come in contact with known allergens. Taking a hot shower and washing your hair is a good idea. The steam can also help clear your nasal passages.
- Wash your bedding more often – If you notice allergy symptoms worsen at night or you wake up with puffy eyes, your bed might be the culprit. Wash your sheets, pillowcases and blankets at least twice a month. If you let your pets sleep on the bed (or Fido or Fluffy like your pillow), you may need to do laundry more often.
- Buy allergen-free bedding – These days you can find bedding that is designed to “fight off” common allergens like dust mites.
- Use saline solution – Saline solution made with saltwater can help relieve nasal congestion.
Contact RESS ENT
If you are suffering from winter allergies, there are solutions that can help. If simple fixes don’t work, contact Dr. Bradford Ress of RESS ENT in Boca Raton, FL to schedule an appointment today.