The cold weather has slowed down pollen production and that means a relief for allergy sufferers, right? Not necessarily. The chilly months may force you to stay indoors where several allergens and irritants could be present.
Since allergy symptoms can often match those of the common cold, it is important to recognize the possible causes of allergic reactions.
The Differences Between Allergies & Colds
Despite their similarities, it is possible to tell the difference between a cold and winter allergies.
Winter Allergy Symptoms
Common Cold Symptoms
Dust in Your Heating System
The number one cause of allergies during the cold winter months comes from your home heating system. Throughout the year, dust will collect in the vents and fans. Once you turn the heat on, all of that dust will become unsettled and move throughout your home. This dust can become attached to your carpets, bed sheets and furniture.
Christmas trees aren’t a source of allergens, but it may have collected floating allergens and mold spores from other sources. The day before bringing it in the house, shake the tree and hose it off in order to loosen any allergens that may be sitting on the branches. Once it dries off, bring it inside. Chronic allergy sufferers may want to consider using a fake tree.
Whether you have an open fireplace or a wood-burning stove, firewood has the potential to cause coughing, sneezing and a sore throat. Just like Christmas trees, firewood can carry mold and other allergens into your home. In addition, smoke can irritate the nose and could worsen asthma symptoms.
How to Relieve Symptoms
Depending on where your symptoms are coming from, there are many options for finding relief.
- Use a humidifier: A humidifier will assist in reducing dryness in the air. Dust mites and mold spores thrive in environments with humidity over 60 percent. Limit the maximum humidity to 50 percent.
- Antihistamines: This medication reduces sneezing, sniffling and itching symptoms. There are a number of over-the-counter options to get you through until you can see a doctor.
- Decongestants: This type of medication helps to relieve congestion by clearing mucus and lowering swelling.
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