November 21, 2022

Get a Grip on Your Winter Allergy Symptoms

Think allergies can only strike in the spring and summer? Think again!

While millions of Americans suffer from allergies related to seasonal pollen, millions of people also suffer from indoor allergies, including pet dander, dust mite, pest and mold allergies.

Indoor allergens are more likely to trigger symptoms when air circulation is low (i.e., when fans and air conditioners are less likely to be in use and windows snap shut during colder months) — thus, why many indoor allergies are also considered winter allergies.

If you experience allergy symptoms in the winter, there are some ways to treat both your symptoms and the root cause of your allergies.

Why are my allergies worse in the winter?

Winter allergies are often caused by indoor allergens.

In the winter we spend more time indoors which means increased exposure to those allergens. Depending on where you live, you may experience decreased airflow in your home in the winter (especially it’s cold enough to close the windows and turn off fans).

If the temperature outside is cold, you’re probably not opening windows and doors the same way as you would in the warmer months. There’s also a good chance you’re not turning on your fans or air conditioners in the winter, either. All of this can lead to decreased airflow in the winter months.

If you’ve never been tested for allergies, you may want to talk to an allergist about getting a skin or blood test.

Common Winter Allergy Triggers

If you already know which allergens trigger your symptoms, it may be easier to narrow down the offenders.

The most common indoor allergens include the following:

  • Pet dander
  • Dust and dust mites
  • Pests, such as rodents and insects
  • Mold

If you suffer from indoor allergies, the more time you spend indoors, exposed to these triggers, the more likely you are to suffer from symptoms.

Why are my indoor allergies worse this year?

If your winter allergies are worse this year than in previous years, you’re not alone.

Many allergy sufferers have reported more severe allergy symptoms in the past few years. These symptoms may be attributed to the following environmental conditions.

Work-From Home Lifestyles

Many of us started working from home this year or last year. And while the WFH lifestyle is often revered, we forget that there are downsides to working in our sweats or forgoing the daily commute, too.

Working from home may also mean spending more time with pets. If you’re allergic to your pet and you’re not used to spending all day with your furry friends, your allergies may be worse this year.

If you suffer from other indoor allergens (such as dust, pests or mold) and your home is infested with these allergens, your allergies may be triggered more if you’re spending more time at home.

What were your allergy symptoms like before you started working from home? Were your symptoms triggered more when you were at home or at the office? Do you suffer from nighttime allergies?

You may want to work with a board-certified allergist or clinician and get tested for allergies to determine why your symptoms are worse this year.

Pollution and Air Quality

If you live in a city with high pollution rates and low air quality, you may experience more severe allergy symptoms. Both pollution and air quality can worsen allergies.

Particulate pollution created by mechanical and chemical processes can irritate the respiratory system. Such mechanical and chemical processes include mining and construction and the burning of petroleum, gasoline, diesel, and jet fuels.

While these particulates aren’t considered allergens themselves, they can cause inflammation and damage to the respiratory system and worsen the symptoms of allergies.

To protect yourself from unhealthy air, you’ll want to avoid pollutants. If the pollution levels are high and air quality levels are low, avoid spending time outdoors.

Christmas Tree Allergies

If you have a fake Christmas tree instead of purchasing a live one, your new holiday tradition may be triggering your allergies!

Christmas tree allergies are actually pretty uncommon. It’s the allergens on the trees (such as dust and mold) that cause uncomfortable symptoms.

Common Winter Allergy Symptoms

If you suffer from winter allergy symptoms, you probably know exactly what these symptoms are!

When your body encounters an allergen, an allergic cascade begins that includes the release of histamine that causes redness, inflammation, itching and watering eyes and nose and more.

Some of the most common symptoms affect the eyes and nose — but other, less common symptoms may also arise, too.

Airborne allergens can affect your eyes, nose and respiratory system. When allergens (such as pet dander, dust and dust mites) get into your eyes (either through the air or by transference from your hands when you touch your face), they can cause itching, watering, inflammation and redness.

These same allergens can also get into your respiratory system when you breathe. Common nasal symptoms include itching, sneezing, runny nose, inflammation, stuffy nose, sinus pressure and redness.

Other Symptoms

Other, less common symptoms of allergies may also include:

  • Aches and pains
  • Confusion
  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Gastrointestinal issues
  • Rashes
  • Sleep disturbances

If you suffer from any allergy symptoms — especially common symptoms in conjunction with less common ones — you may want to get tested for allergies.

5 ways to manage your winter allergy symptoms

If you suffer from winter allergy symptoms, there are ways to feel better. The first step is getting tested for allergies. Even if you suspect you know which allergens are triggering your symptoms, it’s still important to get tested.

After you get tested, it will be easier to target specific allergy treatments, including medication, allergy avoidance and allergy immunotherapy.

1. Get Tested for Allergies

There are two types of allergy tests available, skin scratch tests and blood tests.

Skin scratch tests may be performed at an allergist’s office. Small amounts of allergens in aqueous form are placed on the skin with a light scratch and monitored for reactions.

Blood tests may be ordered by your doctor and performed at a lab.

Curex now offers an at-home blood test, performed by a certified clinician. The clinician will travel to your home or office to perform a blood draw. No need to travel to a lab on your lunch break or in the early morning hours before work. Get tested on your time, and get your results within a few days.

Are you more of a DIYer? Curex’s at-home self-test requires only a few finger pricks of blood. Follow the instructions to collect your sample and mail the kit back to the lab. Results are available within a few weeks.

2. Avoid Allergens

If you’re not exposed to allergens, you won’t experience symptoms, right? The answer may seem simple — but like most things in this world, allergy avoidance isn’t so cut-and-dry.

Avoiding allergens is one way to avoid symptoms, though it’s not a foolproof solution. If you’re allergic to farm animals, it may be easier to steer clear of a farm than it is to avoid Fido if you’re allergic to dogs.

While avoidance is an effective way to manage symptoms, it’s not always a long-term solution.

3. Groom pets regularly

Pets can make your seasonal allergies worse by bringing pollen into the home. Long-haired pets in particular are likely to be covered in pollen after a walk.

Brush pets down often, vacuum your home with a device equipped with a HEPA filter and invest in a decent air purifier, also with HEPA certification. Always wear a mask while cleaning, and wash your hands after. Make your bedroom a no-pet zone.

4. Use Allergy Medications

Oral antihistamines, nasal steroid sprays and antihistamine nasal sprays and eye drops have all proven effective at reducing allergy symptoms.

The major downsides to allergy medications are their side effects and the need for continued use.

For many allergy medications to work effectively, it’s best to start doses at least two weeks before the season. Medications should usually be taken daily throughout the duration of allergy season.

Many allergy medications also cause side effects. The most common side effects include drowsiness, fatigue, stomach issues, dry mouth and dry eyes.

5. Try allergy immunotherapy

If you’re searching for a possible long-term solution to allergies, you may want to try allergy immunotherapy. This treatment has proven effective at reducing the need for allergy medication and treating the root cause of allergies.

It trains your body’s immune system to develop a resistance to allergens.

Subcutaneous Immunotherapy

Subcutaneous immunotherapy is more commonly known as allergy shots and introduces allergens to the system in increasing doses through regular injections.

Since there is a chance of anaphylaxis as a side effect of these treatments, patients must remain for observation for up to 30 minutes after injection.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Like allergy shots, Sublingual immunotherapy exposes the body to allergens by gradually increasing the doses over time — increasing allergen tolerance.

Doses are administered orally, under the tongue. Though sublingual immunotherapy is prescribed by a doctor, doses can be self-administered at home, as anaphylaxis is rarer than with subcutaneous immunotherapy.

With Curex sublingual immunotherapy, you may be able to enjoy the winter and resume normal indoor activities.

Get a long-term solution to your winter allergy symptoms with at-home immunotherapy. Learn how you can work with a board-certified allergy specialist to treat your allergy symptoms at the source.

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