According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, “In 2018, approximately 24 million people in the U.S. were diagnosed with seasonal allergic rhinitis (hay fever). This equals around 8% (19.2 million) of adults and 7% (5.2 million) of children.” While you may think of hay fever being a spring and summer phenomenon, some people actually experience it into the fall and winter. We review more about winter allergies below.
Winter Allergy Symptoms
The symptoms of winter allergies, like during other seasons, include:
- Itchy, red, watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Sore throat
- Itchy skin, rash or hives
Winter Allergies Causes
The most common causes of winter allergies, include:
- Dust mites. It’s not actually dust you’re allergic to, but a protein found in dust mite droppings. Dust mites are tiny bugs that live in carpets, mattresses and upholstered furniture that feed on dead skin cells. Even the cleanest homes have dust mites.
- Pet dander. Many animals, but especially cats and dogs, have proteins called dander in their skin, saliva and urine that many people are reactive to.
- Mold. Mold, a fungus, is another substance that is all around you, whether you can see it or not. It’s mostly found in moist conditions like bathrooms, basements and piles of compost.
- Cockroaches. Cockroach droppings, body parts and saliva also contain a protein that many people are allergic to.
Winter Allergies Treatment
To prevent and treat winter allergies, the experts at Carolina Ear Nose & Throat – Sinus and Allergy Center suggest:
- Vacuuming regularly. Make sure your vacuum has a HEPA filter.
- Cleaning furnace filters. Do this at the start of each winter season to prevent allergy symptoms.
- Bathing pets. Do this no more than once a week, as more often can dry out their skin.
- Checking firewood for mold. Don’t bring anything into your house if you can see mold on it.
- Storing seasonal items tightly. Purchase airtight containers to prevent dust and mold from building up on your seasonal décor.
- Keeping food safe. To prevent cockroach infestations, store all food in airtight containers as well. Throw out old food promptly if it starts to go bad to prevent mold.
- Taking over-the-counter medications. Antihistamines, decongestants and corticosteroids can all provide relief.
- Talking about immunotherapy. An expert allergist can help you decide if this long-term option is right for you.
For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Carolina Ear Nose & Throat – Sinus and Allergy Center today.