The colorful leaves of autumn have fallen away, the holidays are over, and a cool wind has come to bite. Winter is finally here, and, with it, a new allergy season. While winter is better for seasonal allergy sufferers than fall and spring, when pollen counts are high, winter does come with its own set of handicaps. We figure you have enough about beating the cold to worry about—we don’t want you suffering with the sniffles on top of that! That’s why we’ve compiled this handy guide full of tips and tricks for alleviating winter allergies.
Why Are Winter Allergies So Bad?
You may be thinking that winter should be the best season for allergies. After all, most people are stuck indoors in the winter, which, while boring, means that pollen and other nasties can’t get in. While that’s true, winter brings another issue. During the chilly winter months, offices and residences typically keep their windows snapped shut and the heating system turned on. Consequently, there is no fresh air. The stale air that is recirculated indoors allows for the accumulation of a number of indoor allergens, and the heating system will only serve to spread those allergens further from room to room. It can quickly get stuffy and hard to breathe. Over time, the build-up of allergens may result in discomfort for allergy-sufferers.
Symptoms of Winter Allergies
Winter allergy symptoms, commonly caused by dust, pollen, or mold include:
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Itchy eyes and nose
- Runny or stuffed nose
- Water eyes
How can you tell if you are suffering from a cold or flu, or from allergies? Lots of people get sick in the winter, after all. Keep track of your symptoms and how long they last. A cold or flu shouldn’t stick around for more than 10 days, and colds and flues are usually accompanied by a fever and achiness—symptoms not caused by allergies. Allergies can last for weeks and months, and should be ache and pain-free.
Tips for Alleviating Winter Allergies
Thankfully, you’re not doomed to suffer all winter long. Implement some of the following strategies to find relief!
Warm up. A cozy night curled up in front of a warm fireplace, paired with a cup of hot tea or other hot beverage, can do wonders to clear up a stuffy nose.
Open the windows. In winter, the air outside is crisp and pollen-free. We know it’s cold, but throw open the windows every once in a while to get some clean air circulating in.
Bundle up. While outdoors, the harsh wind may trigger a sinus reaction. Cover your eyes with sunglasses or googles, and your mouth with some sort of fabric. This will help your nose dry and will keep you warmer as well.
Clean heating ducts and filters. Your heater will probably be running full-speed over winter. That’s why it’s important to keep up to date on your cleaning and maintenance. ENERGY STAR recommends you change out your filters monthly to prevent the build-up of allergens.
Keep furry pets out of the bedroom. Fur and dander will accumulate in winter, when there is little to no fresh air. Keep your dog or cat out of your bedroom, so that you can sleep in peace. Give your pet a bath at least once a week to keep their dander and loose hair to a minimum.
Control dust mites and mold. Purchase a dehumidifier to keep the humidity in your home below 50%.