Winter Allergies and YOU
People who have seasonal allergies often look forward to the colder winter months, hoping that pollen levels will be low or nonexistent and that outdoor molds are buried under snow and frost and symptoms in general will be less bothersome.
However, depending on where you live and what your allergy triggers are, winter allergies can still present some big challenges. People who live in certain areas may actually have their highest level of tree pollen allergens to contend with. Mountain cedar blooms in southern and central Texas from December through March, so even though these may be some of the (relatively) coldest months in that state, they may also be one of the most severe allergy months.
Even in colder climates, such as western Idaho, where I live, outdoor mold spore levels begin rising once again in late winter and early spring, especially if it is wet and rainy. Keep in mind too, that although indoor molds can flourish all through the year, depending on your home environment, their levels will also be higher when the outdoor mold spore levels are higher. So it can be a double whammy!
For Us Year-Round Allergy Sufferers, the Fun Never Stops!
If, like me, you not only have seasonal pollen and mold allergies, but are also allergic to such indoor allergens as pet dander, dust mites and insect allergens, then you know that winter presents no relief at all from your triggers and symptoms.
In fact, if you are confined to your home for more hours a day during winter months, you are actually being potentially exposed even more to your allergens. If you have pets, they're probably indoors more too. Not having doors and windows open can mean less fresh air circulation as well.
Add to allergen exposure the risk of irritants such as cold air, poor air quality (think inversions, wood smoke, etc.) and so on. Although these irritants do not really trigger an allergic response, they can certainly make it worse.
So What Can We Do?
As always, your best protection against allergy symptoms is to avoid the things that trigger your allergies. And of course, this is easier said than done. Still, any efforts you make are well worth it. In the post, Understanding and Treating Pollen Allergy, I go into detail about how to manage your sensitivity to all types of pollen.
My post on 7 Ways to Avoid Triggering Mold Allergies provides practical tips on dealing with outdoor and indoor mold triggers.
For indoor allergens, you'll want to check out the post on how to Keep Indoor Allergies at Bay This Winter.
Another important strategy is to keep taking your allergy medicine as prescribed or as recommended on the packaging (if you use an over the counter medicine). Medicines such as Allegra, Claritin and Zyrtec do provide some immediate relief, but work best when they are taken regularly.
Also, be sure to keep in regular communication with your doctor about your symptoms and your allergy control, especially if you're struggling. There are always new products coming out and your doctor may be able to recommend a better plan of action than the one you've been using.