Many people find themselves wondering why they have itchy eyes, running rose, and a sneeze in the winter. People often don’t think of winter as allergy season and yet winter sinus allergies are really quite common. During winter, people tend to spend more time indoors, exposing themselves to indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and certain indoor irritants that can exacerbate allergy symptoms. Here is what you need to know about winter allergies- the causes & prevention as well as tips for dealing with the winter allergies symptoms.
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What You Need To Know About Winter Sinus Allergies
Winter allergies can be caused by various indoor allergens, as people tend to spend more time indoors during the colder months. Common triggers include:
- Dust Mites: These microscopic creatures thrive in warm environments, and their droppings can trigger allergies.
- Mold: Indoor mold can be present in damp areas like bathrooms, basements, and kitchens.
- Pet Dander: Spending more time indoors with pets can expose individuals to pet dander, a common allergen.
- Indoor Pollutants: Closed windows and doors during winter can lead to poor ventilation, allowing indoor pollutants like smoke, fumes, and household cleaners to trigger allergies.
- Heating Systems: Forced air heating systems can circulate dust and allergens throughout the home.
It is important to understand what causes winter sinus allergies so you can know how to prevent or lessen your winter allergies. Dust and mold are two of the main causes of winter time allergies. Dust and mold become a huge factor in the winter and cause indoor air pollution. Because most people turn on the heater during the winter, we tend to have the same indoor air trapped inside for a better part of the winter. Dust is exposure can be increased in the winter when we are unpacking ornaments and clearing surfaces that don’t usually get disturbed.
To lessen your exposure to dust and mold, try opening the windows and airing your house out on a warmer, sunny day. Because it is winter you may not be able to do that very often but you can still improve air quality by using a HEPA air filter for your HVAC. HEPA air filters are more expensive than a non-HEPA air filters but they remove at least 99.97% of airborne particles 0.3 micrometers (µm) in diameter. They make a huge difference. Also, don’t forget to change your filters monthly.
Microscopic dust mites can flourish in mattresses, bedding, and carpeting. When dust mite droppings and remains become airborne, they can cause allergy symptoms. To reduce exposure to dust mites, try washing bedding with hot water and vacuum (using a HEPA vacuum filter) frequently.
According to Natural News, “Christmas trees, fireplaces, scented candles, and fake snow … can all trigger an allergy response” as well. Try noticing if exposure to any of these worsens your symptoms.
Winter Allergies Symptoms
Winter allergies can manifest similarly to allergies experienced during other seasons. Common symptoms of winter allergies may include:
- Sneezing: Persistent or frequent sneezing may be a result of exposure to allergens like indoor molds, dust mites, or pet dander.
- Runny or Stuffy Nose: Nasal congestion, a runny nose, or post-nasal drip could be indicative of allergies triggered by indoor allergens such as dust, mold, or pet dander.
- Watery, Itchy Eyes: Allergic conjunctivitis can cause itching, redness, and watering of the eyes due to exposure to allergens.
- Coughing: A dry or persistent cough might occur due to postnasal drip caused by allergic reactions.
- Wheezing or Shortness of Breath: Some individuals with allergies may experience asthma-like symptoms such as wheezing or difficulty breathing, particularly if allergic triggers like dust mites or mold spores are present.
- Skin Irritation: Allergies can sometimes cause skin reactions like eczema or hives.
It’s important to note that some symptoms might overlap with those of colds or other respiratory infections. If you suspect winter allergies, it’s a good idea to consult with a healthcare professional or allergist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Tips For Dealing With Winter Allergies
First, use the ideas above to try to lessen your exposure to causes of winter sinus allergies. If you still have winter sinus allergy symptoms, you may want to try some of the solutions I suggest below. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor and you should consult a qualified physician with any health concerns.
Drink Plenty of Water
Water helps keep everything working properly and flushes your system.
A neti pot will helps you perform a nasal flush and help remove irritants from your nasal passages. My mom swears by her neti pot but I find it very awkward. A saline spray may work better for you.
Stinging Nettle Tincture or Tea
If you love natural remedies, you may love stinging nettle since it is supposed to work as a natural histamine. I haven’t tried it but you can read all about it here.
Another natural treatment for allergies is Quercetin, a natural plant-derived bioflavonoid and antioxidant. Quercetin helps stabilize mast cells and prevents them from releasing histamine. You can read more about it here.
You may find essential oils like peppermint and eucalyptus help clear your sinus and make it easier to breathe. You can diffuse them in the air, put a few drops in coconut oil to make a chest rub, or you can make DIY shower melts. I personally love essential oils for relieving allergy symptoms.
Antihistamines reduce sneezing, sniffling, and itching. CVS Pharmacy brand offers over the counter Allergy Relief in tablet form. Options have comparable active ingredients to big pharmacy company brands but at a better price.
Decongestants clear mucus to relieve congestion and swelling. This may be an old wives tale but my mom always had me stay away form dairy when I was congested and drink fresh squeezed orange juice. I live by it. You may want to try that too!
To manage winter allergies, regularly clean and dust your home, paying attention to areas where dust mites and mold might accumulate. Use a dehumidifier to control humidity levels and prevent mold growth. Wash bedding, curtains, and other fabrics regularly in hot water to eliminate dust mites. Bathe and groom pets frequently, and keep them out of bedrooms, if possible. Ensure proper ventilation by opening windows periodically, even during colder months. Consider using air purifiers with HEPA filters to capture airborne allergens.
There you have it- 7 ways to deal with winter sinus allergies! Don’t forget to address the causes of the winter allergies first in order to prevent them as much as possible. Which methods work best for dealing with your winter time allergies?
Important: If you’re experiencing persistent or severe symptoms, it’s advisable to consult with a healthcare professional or an allergist for personalized advice and treatment options.