Winter Allergies

    Friday, 16 November 2012 00:00  Blog

Just because the seasons change, that doesn’t mean your symptoms will.

Most of us enjoy summer’s perks; it’s the season of long nights, bikinis, and pints of beer on the patio. But summer is also the season of pollen, and for the unlucky among us that means sneezing, runny noses, and dry, itchy eyes. If that sounds like you, you might happily trade warm weather and sunshine for early evenings and chill winds, if it comes with the promise of symptom relief.

If you’re an allergy sufferer you might eagerly anticipate the transition between summer and fall. So when temperatures drop to the low thirties and your nose is still as red as Rudolph’s, you probably feel a bit cheated. Isn’t summer supposed to be allergy season? Shouldn’t it all be over when the ground turns white?

Well, not exactly. It’s true that pollen is a common trigger, but it’s not the only one. With winter comes a whole new slew of allergens to look out for. 

Winter allergens

Pets. When the temperature drops, your pet cat or dog might start spending a lot more time indoors– which means their dander builds up a lot more quickly. Make sure to bathe your pet once weekly, and clean and vacuum regularly.

Damp areas. Winter is damp and humid– conditions where mold thrives. Bathrooms and basements often breed mold, and damp shoes trudged through the house can give it an even greater opportunity to grow.

Dust. You always need to be concerned about dust, and cleaning regularly can help keep symptoms at bay. But the problem often increases as holidays approach; pulling out decorations for Thanksgiving or Christmas can mean pulling out layers and layers of dust. 

Christmas trees. While the trees themselves don’t usually trigger allergies, the mold spores they produce do. Within days of bringing your tree home the mold will release into the air, wreaking havoc on allergy sufferers.

Firewood. Cold, damp wood for the fire is another breeding ground for mold. 

Sinus infections

Another curse on allergy sufferers: sinus infections. Those with nasal allergies are predisposed to this uncomfortable winter staple.  

Healthy sinuses produce fluid, which is drained through the nasal passages. The problem occurs when these passages are blocked. The fluid has nowhere to go and builds up in the sinuses, causing them to become inflamed and infected. This can be caused by a bacterial infection or the common cold, or by allergies. 

It’s important to determine whether you are suffering only from allergies, or if you have developed an infection. Pay attention to your symptoms; if they seem to be getting worse or your normal method of treatment isn’t helping, you may be suffering from an infection. Some things to look out for include the following:

  • Pain in your upper teeth
  • Your mucous has gone from clear to yellow or greenish
  • You experience pressure in your forehead, behind your eyebrows or between your eyes
  • You experience pressure at the top of your nose or in your cheeks
  • Your symptoms last longer than ten days
  • You have a fever 

Prevention

It probably sounds like you have a lot to worry about; mold might make decorating the tree go from “merry” to “misery,” and reading by the fire is a lot less pleasurable  when you’re blowing your nose more often than you’re turning the page. So what can you do to suppress your allergy symptoms, and keep sinus infections from developing?

  • Buy an artificial Christmas tree
  • Keep your home clean
  • Keep your firewood outdoors for as long as you can. It’s best if you have a sheltered area that will keep it dry until it’s time to bring it inside. 
  • Practice good personal hygiene; wash your hands regularly.
  • To prevent a sinus infection, keep your nose moist with saline solution

If you have any questions consult a Columbus Allergist. Dr. Summit Shah and his experienced team are here to help you.

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