Health Media Today
Health Media Today is a leading network of Canadian Health and Wellness web sites. The network provides the latest news, advice and opinions from Canadians for Canadians.
6 Biggest Winter Allergy Symptoms and How to Tackle Them
Author : Carolyn Eagle, Senior Editor, Health Media Today Category : Health and Wellness
Winter allergies can be difficult to diagnose when there are so many colds and other nasty bugs going around. You may have resigned yourself to living with a stuffy nose all winter and just attributing it to a persistent cold. Children, in particular, can be difficult to diagnose because of the number of germs they can pick up at school or daycare but there are some basic symptoms of winter allergies you should look out for.
Symptoms kick in as soon as the furnace is consistently on.
Dust mite and mold have settled over the summer months in our vents and now get pushed out into the air when the furnace comes on after sitting idle for months. Pet dander gets stirred up and, with all of the windows closed, our exposure to these allergens suddenly spikes, causing symptoms.
Irritating tickly or dry coughing which persists longer than two weeks
It is certainly not unheard of to have a persistent cough in the winter but if there was no cold or other virus that triggered it to begin with, you may be dealing with allergies.
Dark circles under the eyes
We can all get dark circles when we’ve been sick, caused by increased blood flow near the sinuses. But if there was no underlying bug to cause them or they are not going away, they could be caused by allergies.
Itchy and/or watery eyes
This is a dead give-away of winter allergies. The dust and dander in the air is extremely irritating and are being pushed through the house or office by the running furnace. Look for eye rubbing in children.
Itchy and/or runny nose
What differentiates allergies from a cold are clear secretions which persists for more than 3-7 days (another common symptom which can be easily overlooked as a sniffle in children)
Again, all symptoms which are easy to write off as winter sniffles, but what you are looking for is persistence of the symptoms and a lack of other cold or flu-like symptoms such as fever and body aches.
The most common winter allergies are to mold, dust mites, and pet dander. If you think you or your kids may be suffering, a visit to the doctor can determine the best course of treatment and testing.
Another important step is to try and reduce the number of allergens in your home. Here are some hot-spots for allergens in the winter and how to tackle them:
Wash bed linens once a week in hot water (at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit or 55 degrees celcius) and children’s stuffed animals about every 2 weeks.
Get dust mite-proof or anti-allergy covers for mattresses and pillows (dust mites thrive in these areas).
Vacuum carpets and clean hardwood floors often to keep away dust and pet dander.
Change or wash shower curtains and liners at the first hint of build-up before mold can take hold.
Clean any mold in the bathroom, focusing on areas around the tub or shower, and mold around bathroom windows. A quick search for ‘mold solutions’ online provides any number of homemade or store bought solutions that work.
Use a high-efficiency particulate air filter (HEPA) to clean the dust mites from the air.
Keep house humidity below 30% in order to avoid mold growth.
Dust the house thoroughly, especially sleeping areas, paying attention to tops of bookshelves and under beds which are not easily visible.
A plastic mat or washable throw rug is a good idea for younger children who spend a lot of time on the floor playing. They can both be easily washed weekly in hot water.
Keep your child out of any room where you are vacuuming or dusting for at least 20 minutes. Dust particles get scattered into the air and can cause an allergic reaction.
Wear a dust mask when cleaning the house to avoid giving yourself an allergy attack!
As with any kind of medical concern, be sure to consult your doctor if you have any questions. Allergy treatments are plentiful and varied and they will be able to suggest one that is right for you and your family.