Oh, is that snow outside? Winter must be right around the corner.
Winter Allergies vs Seasonal Colds
So, how do you know if you have a cold or seasonal allergies?
An allergic reaction is your body's immune system fighting against something it falsely sees as a threat. Many times this will be caused by dust, mold or a pollen like ragweed.
A cold is caused by a virus. You are more likely suffering from a cold if you have a fever or cough. Another distinction is your symptoms change over time. Some people may start with a sore throat and after a few days then have chest congestion and a cough.
With an allergy you will more likely have clear mucus (unless you develop an infection like a sinus infection). Your symptoms will likely stay the same. You may feel achy and have a headache, however those symptoms may also be present with the common cold.
Assuming you have winter allergy symptoms, take these 5 simple steps to feel better.
Whether you write them down or bookmark this post, these will all help reduce year-round allergies.
Winter Allergy Tips
1) Steer Clear Of Allergens
Considering the most prominent winter allergens (Pet Dander, Mold/Mildew, Pollen) are quite common in our everyday routine, staying indoors to avoid them is easier said than done. In certain parts of the country, as in the South the winter is a time for some serious tree pollen allergies. For example, in Austin where we are, the pollen from cedar (juniper) tress causes widespread allergic reactions in January.
If you can’t avoid the outdoors, regularly wash your hands and face to keep pesky pet hair or mildew spores from being breathed in.
Other winter allergies arise from pet dander from dogs and cats. These indoor air pollutants that originate inside your home.
In this case it is important to frequently clean your home. A good HEPA vacuum cleaner will help in picking up animal dander and large dust particles.
2) Keep The House Clean from Dust
You would think in the winter that allergies would be less common. For example, pollen isn’t so much of a problem since many plants aren’t blooming like in the fall or spring.
However, there is one big difference.
When it turns cold, we turn on our heating systems. For many of us this means dust that has collected in the HVAC system is now blown throughout your home. Dust mite allergies are also a problem.
To help relieve a winter allergy like dust it is good to have your ducts cleaned from time to time.
Another tip is to regularly replace your furnace filters. While no one likes to replace them every few months, this is important in helping to keep your home clean and minimizes the stress on your HVAC system. It is far cheaper to replace the air filters than to use more energy to heat your home or repairs to your heating system.
3) Wash & Upgrade Bedding
Although bed bugs are most prominent in warm weather months, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your bed sheets clean, in the off months.
Keeping your bedding clean during the winter months will make sure you’re not rolling around itchy pet hair, accumulated dust, or pollen spores tracked in from outdoors. Be sure to wash bedding and towels at least weekly to keep dust mites under control.
If dust mites are difficult to control consider buying dust mite covers for your bedding.
If the sheets are old, it may be time to replace them.
4) Use Allergy Medication
If you’re going to use allergy medicine to reduce allergies this winter, make sure to speak to your physician to ensure they match your condition. A good solution for some is to use nasal sprays. This is especially true if your nasal passages are clogged. You will also want to make sure you are not suffering from the common cold as the symptoms can be similar.
From our experience, it is sometimes helpful to change brands if you find your sinuses are not relieved or the medicine loses effectiveness.
5) Use An Air Purifier
Using residential air purifier is the most effective and hands-free solution to relieve winter allergies. For best results, we suggest a true HEPA filter. This is because HEPA filters do the best job in removing both the small and large airborne allergens.
Best Air purifiers
We have found that most allergies in the winter are from dust, dust mites and pet dander. This is because the temperatures are colder and we close up our homes. In most parts of the country pollen counts are lower since you are past the ragweed in the fall and flowers and trees that bloom in the spring.
Mold and mildew is a common issue in the summer due to higher temperatures and humidity levels. In the winter, it is cooler and drier so mold growth is much better under control.
So, in choosing an air purifier to help with your winter allergies you will want to look for a machine that has enough air flow for the size of your room. If you don't have enough air flow then the indoor air will not be fully cleaned.
The other aspect of a good air cleaner is that is has a high-quality HEPA filter. The fine particulates that are floating in the air and causing your allergic symptoms are best removed with a HEPA filter so make sure you go with the highest rated filter. Filters are commonly rated by a MERV rating to show how efficient they are. That is, how well they remove the allergens which are small particulate matter.
To find the right air purifier for your specific home, compare our Air Purifiers For Allergies. While each air purifier removes airborne particulates, certain models have specific features and cover different room sizes.
What Causes Winter Allergies?
During the spring, summer, and fall, we spend a lot of time outside, which means people who are allergic to outdoor air contaminants, such as pollen or dust, can have difficulty breathing because of allergy symptoms, sometimes called hay fever. During the cold winter months, which are not considered allergy season, we spend more time inside, which means people who are allergic to indoor airborne contaminants can suffer from allergies. For example, mold and dust mites, which are more common indoors, often give allergy sufferers issues. For this reason, it might actually be best to not call them winter allergies, but instead call them “indoor allergies.”
There are many causes of seasonal allergies. Dust mites, for example, are microscopic bugs that live in mattresses and bedding. They leave tiny particles of droppings and remains, and these particles can become airborne, creating indoor air pollution.
Mold is another issue with indoor allergies. Mold is a fungus that thrives in damp areas, and it loves spaces that don’t get a lot of ventilation. Mold can create issues for anyone, but if you are allergic to mold spores, the winters can be extremely difficult.
Maybe the winter is an allergy season after all!
What is the Worst Winter Weather for Allergies?
Unlike the summer, when the weather causes dry conditions which leads to higher amounts of dust or the increased potential of wildfire smoke, allergens are caused indirectly. It’s not so much the weather itself, but the fact that we huddle indoors that make it such an issue. For this reason, there’s no one particular type of weather that creates the most allergies, but as long as it’s cold enough to send us indoors for long periods of time, it’s the right weather.
It’s easy to realize, then, that the worst winter weather for allergies is the most unpleasant. When the temperature drops, you’re more likely to experience allergy symptoms. When the snow is so thick that going outside is virtually impossible, you have an increased chance for winter allergies.
The worst winter weather for allergies is basically the worst weather, period!
How to Avoid A Winter Allergy and Control Symptoms
So how can you avoid all of the sneezing and coughing that comes from spending too much time indoors? How can you feel better? It’s simple, but you need a strategy that includes avoiding winter allergies and controlling symptoms when they arrive.
To control the amount of airborne pollution in your home, you should make sure the ducts are cleaned properly. During cold winters, the furnace will recirculate the same air over and over again. This can leave large deposits of dust and debris in your ventilation system and duct work, but you can help control the amount of dust by conducting thorough maintenance on your system. For example, you should change the filter of your furnace once a month, which will help remove dirt and dust that has collected. Having the ductwork professionally cleaned will also help improve the air quality in your home, and you can clean the vents, which is essentially a last stop for dust before it’s released into your home’s air. If you’re not confident in completing this task yourself, you can hire a professional team to do it for you.
Home maintenance will only go so far. Sometimes you’ll need to take steps to control winter allergy symptoms, and nasal spray may actually be the right choice for your specific needs. Nasal sprays help relieve nasal congestion, and they come in many different types. One of the most common is a decongestant spray, which shrinks swollen blood vessels in your nose, relieving congestion. However, WebMD recommends not using decongestants for more than three consecutive days, because using them longer can actually make congestion worse. You can also choose antihistamine sprays, which relieve congestion and runny noses. These are available by prescription and tend to cause less drowsiness when taken as a spray as opposed to a pill.
Sleeping can also be difficult if you suffer from an allergy, but you can make adjustments to your sleeping habits to increase your chances of a successful night’s sleep. For example, if you are allergic to pets, you should keep your cats and dogs out of the bedroom. You could also consider placing an air purifier in your bedroom to create cleaner air while you sleep. An air purifier will remove pollen to help you sleep better.
Using an air purifier in the winter to remove pollen and other contaminants is one of the best ways to remove indoor air pollution like dust mites and pollen. Because the house is sealed from the outside, there is little ventilation, which also means there is little chance for the air pollutants like pollen to be removed. Using an air purifier, however, can solve this issue, or at the very least make it less significant. Air purifiers pull in air using a fan motor, then filter out contaminants like pollen using advanced technologies. For example, many air purifiers use activated carbon, which is a material with an extremely high surface space per volume. Activated carbon can capture some of the tiniest particles of pollen and dander, removing airborne pollutants that you may not even realize are in the air.
Air purifiers are important for all seasonal allergies, but they are extremely important in the winter. You can’t open the windows to remove pollen and dust mites, so you’re going to need a great air purifier!
Choose a Top-Quality Air Purifier for Your Allergies
If you need help choosing the right air purifier for your needs, contact the helpful team at Oransi today. We’ll make sure you get the right information to make an informed, knowledgable decision on your purchase. No matter which air purifier for allergies you choose, you’ll get cleaner air for your home or office!