Many people who suffer from allergies get some reprieve when winter arrives. However, those with indoor allergies find no such relief. In fact, if you have such allergies, you may find that you’re even more miserable than during other times of the year.
What Can Cause Winter Allergies?
Once the temperatures dip and you run your heat, allergens get into the air. Dust, mold spores and even parts of dead insects can invade the air and cause you to have an allergic reaction.
Certain things are common allergy triggers when you’re indoors. They include the following:
• Dust mites: Dust mites are tiny, microscopic insects that can be found all over your home. They leave their droppings, which then become airborne, causing all sorts of allergy symptoms that can make you miserable.
• Mold: Mold is a fungus that can easily grow and spread when the conditions are right. They usually develop in moist, damp, humid areas like bathrooms, crawlspaces, basements and attics. You can experience an array of allergy symptoms when mold spores reach the air.
• Animals: In most cases, individuals who are allergic to certain animals have a problem not with their hair or fur but with their pet dander, saliva or even urine.
Symptoms of Indoor Allergies
Indoor allergies can trigger an array of symptoms. If you’re allergic to dust mites, mold or pet dander, you can commonly experience the following:
• Itchy, watery eyes
• Runny nose
• Itching of the sinuses
• Dark circles under your eyes
You may wonder if you can distinguish your symptoms to ensure that they’re actually caused by allergies instead of a cold or flu. Unlike allergies, a cold doesn’t usually last longer than 10 days. People with allergies often have chronic symptoms, especially if they suffer all year long. The common cold and flu often involve additional symptoms like body aches and fever, which are uncommon with allergies.
How are Allergies Diagnosed?
If you believe you’re allergic and your symptoms bother you for longer than a week, you may want to see a doctor. You can be referred to an allergist and describe your symptoms and overall health history to them. They can also perform a skin scratch test to determine if you indeed suffer from allergies. The test involves a tiny amount of allergens injected just under your skin. If you have a reaction that involves redness and itching, it means you’re allergic. You can also have other tests involving your blood to diagnose other allergies.
Treatment for Allergy Symptoms
You can treat winter allergies to alleviate your symptoms. Common treatments include the following:
• Antihistamines: These medications are available over-the-counter and as prescriptions to soothe the symptoms of itching, sneezing and sniffling
• Decongestants: These medications can clear mucus congestion and swelling
• Immunotherapy: This treatment involves allergy shots or tablets taken under the tongue.
While you can’t prevent allergies, you can take preventive measures to reduce your chances of an allergic reaction. The following can help:
• Clean or throw away items that have mold on them
• Wash out your sinks and showers with detergent and bleach
• Use a dehumidifier to control dust mites and mold and keep humidity under 50 percent
• Use a HEPA filter to eliminate dust from the air
• Wash your bedding in hot water every week
• Use allergy-proof covers on your pillows, mattresses and comforters
If you’re allergic to animals but want a pet, choose something that doesn’t have fur like a bird, reptile or fish. If you have a dog or cat, don’t allow them to sleep in your room and bathe them at least once per week.
Additionally, during the holidays, you can limit your symptoms by opting for an artificial Christmas tree. Clean dust off of ornaments being using them and buy plastic instead of fabric.
If you live in Alabama and want treatment for winter allergies, contact Alabama Ear, Nose and Throat Specialists, LLC at your earliest convenience.