December marks the beginning of the winter season. You shouldn’t be alarmed if you’re starting to experience allergic rhinitis or hay fever symptoms during this time. It may seem odd to suffer from allergies in winter, considering there is no pollination. However, there are allergens in your home that could be affecting you at this time. During the warm months of the year, we mostly spend our time outside, either at work, school, or just enjoying the nice weather. However, the cold season forces us to stay indoors, including the pets, which causes us to experience allergies. During these cold months, it’s hard to find windows and doors open as everyone tries to prevent heat from leaving the house and the cold from getting in. This lack of enough ventilation also increases the piling up of allergens indoors.

People often confuse winter allergies for a cold, even though it’s not. While a cold lasts for at most ten days, it’s good to observe that allergies last for as long as there is a trigger in your environment which means you could have cold-like symptoms for the entire month of December or winter.

Types of December allergens

You might start experiencing winter allergy symptoms in November when mercury falls, and we start spending more time indoors.

Dust mites

These tiny microscopic animals thrive in bedding, furniture, carpets, and mattresses. These bugs feed on things that make up dust, like skin cells, animal dander, and insect parts. Since the droppings of these insects are airborne, they cause allergy symptoms. The feces of these mites contain digestive enzymes, allowing them to get energy from their wastes. These same enzymes are the cause of allergies {1}.

Mould

Mould thrives in dark, humid, and damp areas like under the sink, bathrooms, and basement. Mold grows in the most unconducive environments but can grow on paper, fabric, wood, glass, and plastic when favorable conditions are favorable. Mold releases spores into the air, which trigger allergy symptoms.

Pets

Most people aren’t allergic to animal fur but to a protein abundant in animal saliva, urine, and dander. Animal allergies worsen in winter due to proximity to animals. Pets tend to scratch, groom, and move around, releasing dander all over the furniture, bedding, carpets, and other surfaces that can hold onto it. Most people tend to have a higher sensitivity to cats, but dogs grow a heavier coat during winter, which may worsen your dog allergies.

Cockroach droppings

While having cockroaches in your home isn’t a sign of unhygienic practices, these pests tend to thrive anywhere. Being vigilant of your food storage and cleaning up crumbs left over after eating could help keep them away. They enter your home through cracks and crevices; fixing these could help keep them away. During winter, more cockroaches go indoors because they’re running away from the cold weather outside.

Symptoms of winter allergens

When it’s cold outside, you confuse winter allergies for a cold. However, these two are distinct. Winter allergies symptoms include:
● Coughing
● Dark circles under the eyes
● Itchy eyes and nose
● Runny nose
● Sneezing
● Watery eyes
If you have an allergy, you’ll notice that these symptoms last for weeks or even months. On the other hand, a cold lasts for upto ten days only, so you shouldn’t mistake one for the other. When suffering from a cold, you’ll tend to have pain, fever, and aches which don’t usually occur when you have an allergy.

Winter allergies testing

Our Allergy 35 Test Kit.

If you’re affected by these winter allergens, it is best to know exactly what’s triggering you so you can manage it. You can order an Allergy Test online. Upon sending your sample back to the lab, you’ll receive your results within seven days. This allergy test checks for allergens in your environment, food, and drink. You will therefore be sure that every allergen possible has been tested using your sample. After you know what allergies you’re suffering from, the next best action plan is avoiding the allergen the best you can and keeping allergen medications close by to help you when you encounter these allergies unexpectedly.

Winter allergies treatment

Even though you can’t completely prevent an allergen from causing you allergy symptoms, you can manage these symptoms and your lifestyle to avoid contact with these winter allergens. You can do this by:
● Taking over-the-counter antihistamines which can relieve symptoms.
● Use a nasal irrigation treatment that sends clean distilled water through your nasal passage to clear out allergens.
● Get allergy shots regularly upon your doctor’s recommendation to help build up your tolerance and immunity.

There are ways you can prevent or minimize your exposure to winter allergens. These include:
● Use protective clothing over your beddings and pillows to prevent dust mites infestation.
● Use a dehumidifier to help reduce indoor moisture.
● Regularly clean upholstery, bedding, and other covers in hot water to prevent pet dander and dust mites from building up
● Dispose of items like shower curtains, carpeting, or wallpaper that have mold.
● Using a HEPA filter, regularly vacuum your home to remove a majority of the allergens from your home.
● You can replace your carpet with wood, tiles, or linoleum flooring.
● Have someone who isn’t allergic clean your pets at least once a week and groom them regularly.
● Using a 5 percent bleach solution, clean out areas prone to mold growth.
● Buy ornaments made of glass or plastic instead of fabric which collects dust.
● Fix any cracks and leaks in your home to prevent a thriving environment for cockroaches, dust mites, or mold.
● Limit the time you spend with your pets. You can do this by ensuring they don’t spend too much time in the areas you spend a lot of your time to prevent them from triggering your allergies.

Final thoughts on winter allergens

Even though winter signifies the end of pollination and hay fever symptoms, it still is a reason to be worried for those suffering from winter allergies. Take your health into your hands by getting an Allergy Test which will help you know exactly what your allergies are so you can manage them effectively.

References

1. Arlian, L. G., & Platts-Mills, T. A. (2001). The biology of dust mites and the remediation of mite allergens in allergic disease. Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, 107(3), S406-S413. (https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/11242601/)