Updated: Jul 11
Allergies are mostly associated with warmer months like spring or summer, but allergies can persist into the cold months and throughout the winter season. For people who suffer from hay fever and allergies to pollen, winter should be a nice break in their allergic reactions. But for many, they still find themselves sneezing and having an itchy or runny nose throughout the cold months. This is due to the many indoor allergens lurking inside many homes. With the air outside so bitter and cold, we spend much more time indoors and our exposure to indoor allergens is increased.
Some of the most common indoor allergens that can trigger winter allergies include: • Dust mites and particles • Pet dander (dead skin flakes) • Mold
Though it’s impossible to completely rid all indoor spaces of their allergens, you can certainly reduce your exposure to them in your own space. Humidifiers are very helpful in reducing the dryness in the air. The key is to not use them on too high of a level, though, as dust mites and mold thrive in humidity. It’s important to keep your home’s temperature and humidity at levels that are not too high or low. Doctors recommend a maximum of 50 percent humidity and temperatures to not rise to where the air is too dry. If possible, avoid wall to wall carpeting, as it provides a convenient environment for dust mites. Area rugs are a better choice for achieving soft floors without providing a home for dust. Remember to dust and vacuum regularly, using a vacuum with a HEPA (high-efficiency particulate air) filter if possible. Wash sheets weekly in hot water to kill dust mites and try to use hypoallergic pillowcases. To minimize pet dander, bathe your animals once a week and keep them out of the bedroom of anyone who suffers from allergies.
Sadly, even a beautiful Christmas tree could be the cause of allergies for many people. The species of trees that are used for Christmas trees contain terpenes, which are the compounds that give the pine trees their delicious smell. Also, pollen or mold can often be found all over Christmas trees, as they grow outside and are exposed to all the allergens found outdoors. Microscopic mold spores can harbor on the branches of Christmas trees, and according to a U.S. News and World Report article, when people brought Christmas trees indoors, the mold spore count increased five-fold.
Unfortunately, switching to an artificial tree isn’t necessarily the answer, as they can also harbor mold and dust from being stored in basements or attics year-round, as well as your stored ornaments and lights. But we aren’t about to tell you not to have a Christmas tree in your own home, so there are things you can do to help if you suffer from winter allergies. Having an air purifier in the room with the tree can be helpful, as well as giving your real tree a good shake to try to get rid of any mold spores before bringing it into your home, and storing all Christmas decorations in dry areas, off the floor, and in tightly closed containers.
Winter allergies are less known and talked about infrequently, but it’s important to know that they exist and that there are preventatives you can take to make your home as allergen free as possible. When the days and nights are too cold to be outside, you should at least be able to enjoy your time inside without worrying about sneezing and itchy noses all the time. Take steps to recognize and avoid your allergy triggers and find out how to prevent a serious reaction. Identification of the allergy and subsequent treatment is important in the short- and long-term management of your symptoms. Make an appointment with one of our certified and experienced ENT specialists today for a full evaluation and treatment plan.
Our Allergy Services Include: • Comprehensive allergy testing • Environmental control counseling • Medical therapy: oral antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays, antihistamine nasal sprays • Allergy shots • Allergy drops/ Sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT)