The common cold often strikes in winter. Before you reach for the cold medicine, you might want to consider whether your runny nose, scratchy throat and watery eyes might be symptoms of winter allergies. While spring and fall months often bring an increase in allergy symptoms for people with pollen allergies, symptoms may be worse during the winter for those with other allergies.
Several allergens can cause allergies during winter. Common culprits include pets, mildew, mold and dust mites. When the weather turns cold, people and pets begin to stay inside more often. This can increase the amount of pet dander in your house. Turning on the heater can cause mildew and mold to circulate through the air vents. Dust mites, which are tiny bugs, feed on particles, such as human and pet dander. They can also increase in the winter.
Year Round or Seasonal
Depending on the type of allergies you have, you may suffer from them year round. It can be common for a person to have allergic reactions to both indoor and outdoor allergens. If you suffer from winter allergies, you should notice a common pattern from one year to the next. The time frame for winter allergies can vary from one client to another, with the season lasting longer in places with extended cold months.
The similarities between colds and winter allergy symptoms can make it difficult to tell one issue from the other. Both cause fatigue, headaches and congestion. When you have a cold, the symptoms often occur individually. Winter allergies combine multiple symptoms, adding to your discomfort. The time frame can also help you identify whether you have winter allergies or a cold. Symptoms related to a cold last a week to 10 days. Allergies can hold on as long as something triggers an allergic reaction. Fevers most often accompany colds, not allergies.
If you have severe allergy symptoms, you may want to ask your doctor for a prescription to help relieve them. You can reduce the amount of pet dander in your house by vacuuming once a week. For the best results, use a vacuum with a HEPA filter. Wash your bedding, including any stuffed animals your children sleep with, on a regular basis to help control dust mites. Invest in a good air purifier. Exchange real houseplants with fake ones to reduce decaying leaves, which can generate mold.
If you suffer from allergies, you might think you have a weak immune system. This is a common misconception. Allergies are actually a result of your body performing its job to protect your body, according to Dr. Stephen Canfield, a Columbia University allergist. When your body encounters an allergen, it produces histamine to help get rid of the allergen. Annoying symptoms, like watery eyes and runny noses, are defense mechanisms designed to clear your body of the allergens.