Fall and Winter Allergies: What Patients Should Know?
Winter allergies can be worse than spring or summer allergies if you have indoor allergies. Because you tend to stay indoors during cold weather, you are more exposed to winter allergens. Allergy diagnosis and treatment are available at the Allergy & Asthma Center. For more information, please contact us or book an appointment online. We have convenient locations to serve you in Lawrenceville GA, Atlanta GA, and Conyers, GA.
Table of Contents:
Why do my allergies get worse in winter?
What helps with winter allergies?
How long do winter allergies last?
How do you know it’s allergies or a cold?
As a result of the wide variety of grasses, trees, and other plants that release pollen, spring and summer are notorious for triggering allergies. With the first hard freeze in a cooler climate, these seasonal allergies will usually go away.
Your allergy symptoms may worsen during a winter allergy season, depending on your type of allergy. Itchy eyes, morning headaches, and a runny nose are typical winter allergy symptoms caused by indoor allergens. A sore or itchy throat may also accompany coughing and postnasal drip.
In colder months, you may consider a cold or flu to be the cause of these symptoms rather than allergies. The symptoms of a cold tend to last 7-10 days, while allergies can last as long as you are exposed to the allergen (trigger) if you do not seek treatment. It is common for colds and flu to cause a fever as well, but allergies don’t.
Winter allergies can be worse than spring or summer allergies if you have indoor allergies. Because you tend to stay indoors during cold weather, you are more exposed to winter allergens. Allergens can also accumulate when windows and doors are tightly closed, with the heating system circulating indoor air.
The use of antihistamines can reduce the symptoms of sneezing, itching, stuffy or runny noses, and watery eyes. Cetirizine (Zyrtec Allergy), fexofenadine (Allegra Allergy) and loratadine (Claritin, Alavert) are some examples of oral antihistamines.
The symptoms of nasal congestion can be improved with corticosteroid nasal sprays. Examples are fluticasone propionate (Flonase Allergy Relief), budesonide (Rhinocort Allergy) and oxytriamcinolone (Nasacort Allergy 24 Hour). Consult your health care provider before using corticosteroid nasal sprays for a long time.
Nasal stuffiness can be temporarily relieved by decongestants such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed). Antihistamines and decongestants are often combined in allergy medications.
As the weather gets colder and the days get shorter, we tend to stay indoors. There are fewer drafts in our homes due to tighter construction, better insulation, and closed windows. While this can save energy, it can also cause allergy symptoms. We are sealed in our homes with our allergens during winter, and increased exposure can worsen symptoms.
Your body recognizes these allergens as invaders when you are continuously exposed to them. Allergies are exaggerated responses to substances and are unique to each individual. When you are allergic to dust mites, your immune system produces antibodies that attach to mucous membranes in your eyes, nose, and lungs. Inflammation produces more mucus, making it more difficult for the body to rid itself of allergens.
Winter allergies can last as long as exposure to the allergen continues. With allergy testing patients can identify these allergens and avoid them to the best of their ability. Some medications may also help with allergy symptoms.
The most common symptoms of allergies and colds are congestion and a runny nose, as well as frequent sneezing. Drowsiness and fatigue may also occur. The symptoms of allergies and colds sometimes overlap, but there are a few that don’t.
A person who suffers from allergies will experience flare-ups during certain seasons of the year when the allergens that trigger their symptoms are present. As a result, you may experience symptoms for several weeks until that particular allergy season ends. Colds usually last about a week, to put things into perspective. Although allergies and colds are often accompanied by coughing, each cough has a different type.
Typically, cold coughs are wet and hacking, with thick phlegm or mucus that turns green or yellow as the cough progresses. There is a significant itch factor associated with allergies. You are almost certainly suffering from allergies if your eyes, ears, nose, or throat are itchy.
Allergy diagnosis and treatment are available at the Allergy & Asthma Center. We look forward to helping keep you healthy! We serve patients from Lawrenceville GA, Atlanta GA, Conyers GA, Suwanee GA, Duluth GA, Grayson GA, Decatur GA, Brookhaven GA, Lithonia GA, and Covington GA.
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