Oh, is that snow outside? Winter must be right around the corner.
Winter Allergies vs Seasonal Colds
So, how do you know if you have a cold or seasonal allergies?
An allergic reaction is your body's immune system fighting against something it falsely sees as a threat. Many times this will be caused by dust, mold or a pollen like ragweed.
A cold is caused by a virus. You are more likely suffering from a cold if you have a fever or cough. Another distinction is your symptoms change over time. Some people may start with a sore throat and after a few days then have chest congestion and a cough.
With an allergy you will more likely have clear mucus (unless you develop an infection like a sinus infection). Your symptoms will likely stay the same. You may feel achy and have a headache, however those symptoms may also be present with the common cold.
Assuming you have winter allergy symptoms, take these 5 simple steps to feel better.
Whether you write them down or bookmark this post, these will all help reduce year-round allergies.
Winter Allergy Tips
1) Steer Clear Of Allergens
Considering the most prominent winter allergens (Pet Dander, Mold/Mildew, Pollen) are quite common in our everyday routine, staying indoors to avoid them is easier said than done. In certain parts of the country, as in the South the winter is a time for some serious tree pollen allergies. For example, in Austin where we are, the pollen from cedar (juniper) tress causes widespread allergic reactions in January.
If you can’t avoid the outdoors, regularly wash your hands and face to keep pesky pet hair or mildew spores from being breathed in.
Other winter allergies arise from pet dander from dogs and cats. These indoor air pollutants that originate inside your home.
In this case it is important to frequently clean your home. A good HEPA vacuum cleaner will help in picking up animal dander and large dust particles.
2) Keep The House Clean from Dust
You would think in the winter that allergies would be less common. For example, pollen isn’t so much of a problem since many plants aren’t blooming like in the fall or spring.
However, there is one big difference.
When it turns cold, we turn on our heating systems. For many of us this means dust that has collected in the HVAC system is now blown throughout your home. Dust mite allergies are also a problem.
To help relieve a winter allergy like dust it is good to have your ducts cleaned from time to time.
Another tip is to regularly replace your furnace filters. While no one likes to replace them every few months, this is important in helping to keep your home clean and minimizes the stress on your HVAC system. It is far cheaper to replace the air filters than to use more energy to heat your home or repairs to your heating system.
3) Wash & Upgrade Bedding
Although bed bugs are most prominent in warm weather months, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your bed sheets clean, in the off months.
Keeping your bedding clean during the winter months will make sure you’re not rolling around itchy pet hair, accumulated dust, or pollen spores tracked in from outdoors. Be sure to wash bedding and towels at least weekly to keep dust mites under control.
If dust mites are difficult to control consider buying dust mite covers for your bedding.
If the sheets are old, it may be time to replace them.
4) Use Allergy Medication
If you’re going to use allergy medicine to reduce allergies this winter, make sure to speak to your physician to ensure they match your condition. A good solution for some is to use nasal sprays. This is especially true if your nasal passages are clogged. You will also want to make sure you are not suffering from the common cold as the symptoms can be similar.
From our experience, it is sometimes helpful to change brands if you find your sinuses are not relieved or the medicine loses effectiveness.
5) Use An Air Purifier
Using residential air purifier is the most effective and hands-free solution to relieve winter allergies. For best results, we suggest a true HEPA filter. This is because HEPA filters do the best job in removing both the small and large airborne allergens.
Best Air purifiers for Winter Allergies
We have found that most allergies in the winter are from dust, dust mites and pet dander. This is because the temperatures are colder and we close up our homes. In most parts of the country pollen counts are lower since you are past the ragweed in the fall and flowers and trees that bloom in the spring.
Mold and mildew is a common issue in the summer due to higher temperatures and humidity levels. In the winter, it is cooler and drier so mold growth is much better under control.
So, in choosing an air purifier to help with your indoor allergies you will want to look for a machine that has enough air flow for the size of your room. If you don't have enough air flow then the indoor air will not be fully cleaned.
The other aspect of a good air cleaner is that is has a high-quality HEPA filter. The fine particulates that are floating in the air and causing your allergic symptoms are best removed with a HEPA filter so make sure you go with the highest rated filter. Filters are commonly rated by a MERV rating to show how efficient they are. That is, how well they remove the allergens which are small particulate matter.
To find the right air purifier for your specific home, compare our Air Purifiers For Allergies. While each air purifier removes all winter allergies, certain models have specific features and cover different room sizes.