Medical Misconception: Allergies in Winter

Each month we set the facts straight regarding a popular health and wellness myth.

This month’s misconception: Allergies only exist in spring and summer.

It’s the middle of winter. You have a stuffy nose and you are sneezing. You must have a cold, right? Not so fast. You may be experiencing allergy symptoms in winter.

Many allergy sufferers know that their symptoms don’t vanish when the weather turns colder. Being indoors more often just offers a different mix of allergy triggers, including pet dander, dust, mold, dust mites and even Christmas trees, which can host mold or irritate with its scent.

Did you know that leaving your pets behind when you travel for the holidays may make you more susceptible of being allergic to them when you return? According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology’s (AAAAI) website, this is because you lose the tolerance to your pet that you have built up over time.

The AAAAI and the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America recommend some ways to reduce your exposure to indoor allergens:

  • Wash bedding weekly to reduce the level of dust mites
  • Remove wall-to-wall carpeting if possible
  • Control and prevent mold growth
  • Keep your pets out of the bedroom to prevent the transfer of pet dander
  • Keep your pets clean (have someone else bathe/brush them if you are allergic to them)
  • Vacuum once or twice a week (wear a mask if you have allergies)

Still not sure if you have a cold or allergies? The National Institutes of Health has more information about determining whether you are experiencing a cold, flu or allergies

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