If you suffer from seasonal allergies in the spring and fall, you may be relieved once the winter months hit. Unfortunately, cooler weather doesn’t necessarily mean allergens disappear. In fact, winter allergies can be a major cause of discomfort for many people.
Yes, the pollen dissipates in winter; however, other allergies, such as perennial allergies, can take hold at any time throughout the year — even outside of the spring, summer, and fall months.
For those who suffer from seasonal allergies, it’s important to educate yourself on what allergens are most prevalent in the winter and what you can do to prevent a reaction. Here’s what you need to know about winter allergies.
Can you get allergies in winter?
Yes, you can absolutely get allergies in winter. Typically, these allergies aren’t triggered by pollen. Instead, they’re brought about culprits like mildew, dust mites, mold spores, and pet dander.
Many people notice their allergies kick in when the furnace gets turned on for the first time each year. This tends to launch allergens into the air and consequently into your nose.
What are winter allergy symptoms?
Winter allergy symptoms are exactly like those of other seasonal allergies. You can identify an allergic reaction by the following symptoms:
- Runny nose
- Watery eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Dark circles under the eyes
If you notice any of the above symptoms, it’s a good idea to see a medical provider who can help you determine if you’re dealing with allergies or an illness like a cold or the flu, which have similar symptoms.
For allergy-related appointments, a virtual visit is a great option. You can receive a diagnosis from a qualified medical provider without having to leave the comfort of your home.
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What’s the difference between allergies and a cold?
Because symptoms are so similar, it can be tough to tell the difference between a cold and seasonal allergies. A cold is the result of a virus and is spread via contact with another person who’s sick. Allergies are triggered by an allergen and are not contagious from one person to another.
As the immune system tries to defend the body against allergens, it produces histamine that causes you to sneeze, tear up, or itch. This is your body’s way of trying to expel the irritant.
You may also notice a difference in timing between a cold and allergies. With a cold, you might experience symptoms for as long as a week. Allergies, on the other hand, typically last longer, persisting as long as the allergen is around.
What causes winter allergies?
Winter allergies can be caused by all kinds of triggers, including dust mites, pet allergens, and mold. Dust can come from everywhere and is made up of skin flakes and hair that once belonged to people and pets. There’s no way to avoid dust in your home, although vacuuming regularly and investing in a good HEPA filter can help.
Because pets are often kept indoors more during the colder months, you may also notice an increase in pet hair and dander in the winter. Most people are most sensitive to cats; however, dog allergies tend to get worse in the winter with their heavy winter coats.
How are allergies diagnosed?
If you notice you’re dealing with allergy symptoms for more than a week and your medical provider has ruled out any other form of illness, they may recommend you visit an allergy specialist. He or she will want to know more about your health history and existing symptoms.
In some cases, a skin test can help an allergist understand exactly what you’re allergic to. During a skin test, a small section of your skin is scratched with a tiny bit of an allergen to see how it reacts. If the skin begins to turn red and starts to itch, it’s an indicator that you’ve tested positive for that allergen and may have an allergy.
Blood tests are another way to diagnose you with an allergy. Learn more about the allergies offered at CareNow® and use our Web Check-In® feature to set up your appointment.
How are winter allergies treated?
There are a number of treatment options for winter allergies, including antihistamines, immunotherapy, and decongestants. An antihistamine can help get rid of sniffling, itching, and sneezing, while a decongestant is a great way to clear mucus and relieve congestion. Immunotherapy is used to expose your body to the allergen causing you trouble to help curb symptoms.
Can you prevent winter allergies?
It’s impossible to prevent an allergy. However, if you know you’re allergic to a specific allergen, here are a few steps you can take to minimize your reaction.
- Use a HEPA filter to remove dust from the air
- Clean your sheets and comforter every week
- Get rid of any curtains, carpeting, or wallpaper that you know have mold
- Use a dehumidifier to help control dust mites and mold
- Cover pillows, mattresses, and comforters using an allergy-proof cover
If you’re experiencing allergy-like symptoms and aren’t sure whether you’re dealing with allergies or a cold, consider making an appointment at CareNow®. We offer both in-person and virtual visits so you can choose which serves you best.
A medical provider will assess your symptoms and may do a quick physical exam in person. If it’s suspected to be allergies, they will come up with medical treatment to get you back to yourself in no time.
For in-person appointments, you can visit our website to set up your appointment at any of our more than 175 locations throughout the US. Each location is open after hours and on the weekends so you can enjoy convenient service when you need it most.
At CareNow®, we’ve also earned the distinction of Accredited Urgent Care Center from our industry’s association, Urgent Care Association (UCA), so you know you’re getting the best care around.
Don’t want to sit in the waiting room before your visit? We’ve got you covered. Use our Web Check-In® feature before your visit to wait from anywhere!