Do I have to worry about allergies in winter?
However, during the winter months you may experience symptoms like sneezing or watery eyes and assume it’s caused by a cold. For those not familiar with winter allergens, they might be exactly what you’re dealing with - especially if your symptoms carry on for several weeks.
In cooler climates, some of the most common winter allergens experienced include:
- Dust mites
- Animal dander
These allergens are present throughout the year, but you may begin to notice them more by staying indoors more often. This is even more true when the heat kicks on for the first time(s) in the season, circulating the above allergens and possibly more. Dust mites may also be living in your holiday decorations and trees throughout the year, too! (Live trees may have pollen on them instead of dust).
Recommendations for dealing with indoor winter allergens:
- Wearing lung protection if/when allergens are particularly bad, especially if you have to clean, which can stir up dust, etc.
- Dust mites like humidity and lowering the humidity level in your home can help reduce issues.
- Clean and launder frequently in the home. Allergens tend to gather on bedding, rugs, furniture and other soft surfaces. Any of these that you can vacuum or treat by washing with hot water can help cut down on allergens in the home.
- Consider investing in an air purifier which can reduce allergens. Some air purifiers even have the ability to kill filtered bacteria.
Even in warmer (and drier) climates, you can experience allergens in the winter. Tree species, such as willows, junipers, elms, maples, alders, and birches (to name a few) can begin pollinating as early as February.
Particularly warm climates have unique challenges when it comes to dealing with pollen-related allergies in the winter. Central and south Texas, for example, deals with mountain cedar pollen, also known as “cedar fever,” each year. Warm and mild winters can cause some pollinating plants like ragweed to persist through autumn and into winter months around the country.
If you live in warmer regions where these types of allergies are common, you can:
- Monitor pollen counts in your area during peak seasons. Some weather websites and apps feature daily pollen counts and details or tune into your local news/weather channel. My Pollen Forecast is one app that’s available, or you can check out this list for other ideas. These can come in handy for those traveling to warmer regions as well.
- Wear lung protection like a filtration mask for venturing or working outdoors. Individual pollen particulates may be difficult to identify with your eyes but are large enough to filtered. Eye protection can help shield eyes from watering as a result of contact with pollen, too.
- If it’s warm enough to have the windows open, it can help to keep them closed during peak pollinating times/seasons. Pollen is known for traveling great distance on the wind.
- Be sure to launder clothes often that may come into contact with high pollen numbers.
Whether you live in a warmer or cooler region, it’s important to be conscious of your health and avoiding allergies. Just remember to consult your doctor or other medical professional if you have health concerns regarding allergies or illness.