Allergies in the Winter

You know the feeling, you are sniffling and sneezing…again. And again, you are feeling achy, exhausted and headachy.

Most people do not think about their allergies as the cause of their annoying cold-like symptoms during the cold winter months because the cause of most respiratory allergies — pollen — is not generally floating about in the cold and snowy climate.

Yet some of the most troublesome and frustrating allergies are two things found inside. Things like dust mites, mold and animal dander top the list.

What are the Allergies?

Allergies are overreactions of the immune system to foreign particles that ought to be innocuous. For reasons that scientists do not completely understand, some people have a more dramatic reaction to things like dust mites or mold spores than others. And, just as some people react worse than others, some experience, some headaches and others sinus pressure.

How Can You Tell the Difference Between Allergies and a Cold?

So how do you know if you have an allergy or a cold? Both allergies and colds are caused by a virus and an allergen that is set off your body’s immune responses. Both can lead to a runny or stuffy nose, fatigue, sinus pressure, headaches, a cough and sore throat. However, there are some symptoms that are more likely to occur with allergies. These include itchiness of the eyes, ears, and back of the throat. While symptoms like aches and fever often indicate a cold.

Another huge difference is the timeline and persistence of these symptoms. Generally, when you have a cold, you will first feel crummy, and then you will get sick before your symptoms gradually go away. Often a cold only lasts a week, maybe two at the most. Allergies, however, tend to show up on a more recurring basis, without the slow build up or gradual depleting of symptoms.

Are There Any Complications That People With Allergies Tend to Experience?

People who experience allergies throughout the winter are more likely than others to develop asthma, which is a much more serious and chronic condition.

What Can I do if I Have Indoor or Winter Allergies?

-Reduce your exposure as much as you possibly can. This can be quite challenging, however, knowing that dust mites live in bedding, upholstered furniture and carpeting means that you should be washing and changing your bedding and upholstery on a regular basis. The fact that mold grows in damp places such as bathrooms and basements means that if you suspect you might have a mold problem, you should get it checked ASAP. And well, if you have pets, you should be trying to avoid coming in contact with too much loose fur, and vacuuming either every other day or every single day depending on how serious your symptoms are.

-Cockroaches are another extremely common allergen that is found in most urban settings. When it comes to dealing with these little critters your best bet is to vacuum frequently, wash bedding in hot water every few days, and to remove mold with a bleach solution.

If you think that you might be battling winter allergies, there are a wide variety of over-the-counter products to help relieve some of your symptoms, including antihistamines and decongestants.