If you were hoping to get some relief from your summer allergy suffering, you might be sorely disappointed. It is estimated that 40 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergies. And if you suffer in the summer, more than likely, the winter will be just as tough. There are some things you can do to lessen the effect however. First, determine if you just have a winter cold or true allergies. Colds usually come on, last for 3-7 days then go away, produce discolored nasal discharge and may be accompanied by chills or achiness. Allergies on the other hand tend to be intermittent and lingering, produce itchy, watery eyes and clear water nasal discharge. If it is allergies, here’s what you can do.
The same things you are allergic to in the summer are still around in the winter – pet dander, mold, mildew and dust. When the weather cools down, we spend more time indoors with windows shut and maybe even the heater on. These winter months indoors intensify your exposure to allergens. The best thing to do is determine your trigger and try to avoid it. Are your pets spending more time indoors due to the weather? This could be creating higher levels of pet dander in your home. Is the walkway leading up to your home covered in decaying leaves or other yard debris? Those moist piles are the perfect place for mold and mildew, sticking to shoes and easily tracking into your home. Is your firewood stored properly? Any exposure to moisture will encourage mold spores to grow. Bringing four or five logs inside to keep the fire stoked gives those mold spores just enough time to cause an allergy attack. Follow the tips below to avoid these triggers and reduce your symptoms.
Tips to Reduce Winter Allergy Symptoms
1. Wash allergens away – wash your hands and face often and make sure that Fido gets extra baths during the winter to keep his dander under control.
2. Wash towels and bedding often – they often harbor pet dander and dust mites.
3. Get carpets cleaned 3-4 times a year. If this isn’t possible, make sure you are using a HEPA (high efficiency particle air) filter on your vacuum. If allergies are extreme, get someone else to do the cleaning – or wear a dust mask.
4. Relieve nasal congestion with homemade saline solution – mix 1 teaspoon non-iodized salt with 8 oz of water.
5. Stay hydrated! Warm thermostats and constant nose blowing make way for dehydration. Try some chia fresca for longer maintained hydration.
6. Buy a $5 hygrometer (humidity monitor) make sure the humidity level in your home is between 30-50%. Too much moisture can lead to mold and mildew, not enough and it could make your allergy symptoms seem worse.