Can You Get Winter Allergies? Symptoms, Treatments and Prevention

Wyndly Care Team
Dedicated to giving everyone incredible care

What causes allergies in the winter?

Winter allergies are primarily caused by indoor allergens. When people spend more time indoors, they are exposed to triggers such as dust mites, pet dander, indoor mold, and cockroach droppings. Additionally, using heating systems can circulate these allergens throughout the home.

Get started
Wyndly Allergy

Beat your allergies forever.

Get Started With Wyndly

Can You Get Allergies in the Winter?

Yes, it is indeed possible to get allergies in the winter. Contrary to popular belief, allergens are not only prevalent during spring and fall; they can persist and even thrive indoors during the colder months. This phenomenon is mainly due to indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores.

As people spend more time indoors to escape the cold, they inadvertently increase their exposure to these allergens. The symptoms can resemble those of seasonal allergies, and without proper management, they can adversely affect one's quality of life. Understanding the nature of winter allergies is the first step towards finding effective relief, as well outlined in Wyndly's guide on how to treat winter allergies.

Winter allergies can occur in any month of the season, from December to February. Regardless of whether you're dealing with allergies in December or allergies in January, it's important to recognize the symptoms and take appropriate action to manage them.

It's also crucial to realize that climate change can exacerbate allergies. As explained in Wyndly's post on Extreme Climate Change and Allergies, rising temperatures can lead to longer allergy seasons and higher pollen counts, potentially worsening symptoms for those affected.

What Causes Winter Allergies?

Winter allergies are primarily caused by indoor allergens, as people tend to spend more time indoors due to the cold weather. The key culprits typically include dust mites, pet dander, and mold spores. These allergens can trigger the immune system to overreact, leading to allergy symptoms.

Common Winter Allergies

There are several common allergens that can trigger winter allergies:

  • Dust mites: Dust mites are microscopic creatures that thrive in warm, humid environments like bedding and upholstery. They can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals when their waste or decomposed bodies are inhaled.

  • Pet dander: Many people are allergic to proteins found in the skin, saliva, and urine of pets. As pets spend more time indoors during cold months, exposure to pet dander can increase, leading to allergy symptoms.

  • Mold spores: Mold can grow in damp areas of the home like bathrooms and basements. Spores released by mold can be inhaled and cause allergy symptoms.

  • Indoor plants: Some indoor plants can also cause allergies. If they are overwatered, it can lead to mold growth, contributing to indoor allergens.

While it is challenging to completely eliminate these allergens, there are various methods to manage and prevent winter allergies. It's crucial to be aware of these allergens and take proactive measures to reduce exposure.

What Are the Symptoms of Winter Allergies?

Winter allergy symptoms largely mirror those of seasonal allergies, including sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, and coughing. Additionally, some individuals may experience fatigue due to the stress on the immune system caused by allergies (source). These symptoms are the body's reaction to indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, and sometimes, indoor plants.

Winter Allergies vs. a Cold

Distinguishing between winter allergies and a cold can be challenging as their symptoms overlap. Both conditions can cause a runny or stuffy nose, sneezing, and fatigue. However, there are a few differences. A cold typically lasts for 1-2 weeks, while allergy symptoms persist as long as you're exposed to the allergen. Allergies can also cause itchy eyes, which is not a common symptom of a cold. Lastly, fever and body aches are associated with colds but not with allergies.

If you suspect that you have winter allergies, it's crucial to get a proper diagnosis to manage the symptoms effectively. Misdiagnosing winter allergies as a common cold can lead to unnecessary use of medications and prolonged discomfort. Hence, understanding the differences between seasonal allergies and other conditions is vital in managing your health during the allergy season.

How Is a Diagnosis for Winter Allergies Made?

A diagnosis for winter allergies is made through a combination of a detailed medical history, symptom analysis, and diagnostic tests. A healthcare provider will first inquire about your symptoms, their duration, and any potential triggers you may have noticed. This is followed by physical examination and specific allergy tests such as skin prick tests or blood tests.

Upon determining the presence of allergies, the allergist may conduct a skin prick test. This involves applying a small amount of allergen extracts to your skin using a tiny lancet. If you're allergic, you'll develop a small raised bump at the test site.

For individuals who cannot undergo skin tests, blood tests may be used to measure the amount of specific antibodies, called Immunoglobulin E (IgE), produced in response to allergens. Both these tests help identify the specific allergens causing your symptoms, enabling personalized treatment plans.

Remember, self-diagnosis and treatment based on assumptions can lead to ineffective management of symptoms. It's always advisable to consult a healthcare professional for a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Understanding what causes seasonal allergies can help prevent unnecessary suffering and improve your quality of life during the winter months.

What Are the Treatment Options for Winter Allergies?

The treatment of winter allergies typically involves a combination of medication, allergen avoidance, and immunotherapy. The goal is to manage symptoms, reduce exposure to allergens, and help your immune system become less reactive to them over time.

How to Alleviate Winter Allergies

Alleviating winter allergies often starts with allergen avoidance. This includes measures such as keeping windows closed to avoid outdoor allergens, regularly cleaning heating vents to eliminate dust mites, and washing bedding in hot water to kill any allergens. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications, including antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays, can also be effective in managing symptoms. For more severe allergies, prescription medication may be required. It's essential to note that while these methods can alleviate symptoms, they do not treat the root cause of the allergy. Preventing seasonal allergies can also contribute to managing winter allergies.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

For long-term relief and potential treatment, sublingual immunotherapy (SLIT) can be a good option. SLIT involves placing a tablet containing small amounts of allergen under the tongue. This helps the immune system become less reactive to the allergen over time, reducing the severity of symptoms or potentially eliminating the allergic response altogether. SLIT is a personalized treatment tailored to the specific allergens that cause your symptoms, offering a more targeted approach to allergy management.

How Can You Prevent Winter Allergies?

Preventing winter allergies involves a combination of allergen avoidance, maintaining a clean indoor environment, and boosting your immune system. These strategies can help reduce your exposure to winter allergens and lessen the severity of your symptoms.

Firstly, it's crucial to understand what triggers your winter allergies. Common culprits include dust mites, mold, pet dander, and certain outdoor allergens. Regularly cleaning your home, especially heating vents and bedding, can help minimize the presence of indoor allergens. Using air purifiers and keeping windows closed can also reduce exposure to outdoor allergens.

Secondly, maintaining a healthy lifestyle boosts your immune system and can help mitigate the severity of allergic reactions. This includes a balanced diet, regular exercise, and adequate sleep.

Lastly, you may want to consider allergy immunotherapy. This treatment can help your immune system become less sensitive to allergens, reducing the frequency and severity of symptoms.

Remember, prevention is key in managing allergies. By reducing exposure to allergens and strengthening your immune system, you can effectively prevent the onset of winter allergies. Just like with fall allergies, understanding what triggers your symptoms and taking proactive steps can help manage your winter allergies.

Live Allergy-Free with Wyndly

If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you tell if it's allergies or a cold?

Differentiating between allergies and a cold is based on symptoms and duration. Allergies often cause itchy or watery eyes, which a cold does not. Colds may include body aches and fever, while allergies do not. Allergies persist as long as exposure to the allergen continues; colds typically resolve within a week.

Can allergies be triggered by cold weather?

Cold weather itself doesn't trigger allergies, but it can indirectly lead to allergic reactions. In cold weather, people spend more time indoors, increasing exposure to indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, mold, and cockroach droppings, which can trigger allergic reactions in susceptible individuals.

Is it normal to get allergies in the winter?

Yes, it is normal to get allergies in the winter. While springtime allergies are more common, indoor allergens like dust mites, pet dander, and mold can trigger allergy symptoms in the colder months when people spend more time indoors, leading to "winter allergies."

What is the best medicine for winter allergies?

The best medicine for winter allergies depends on your specific symptoms. Antihistamines can relieve sneezing, runny nose, and itchiness. Decongestants are good for sinus congestion. Nasal sprays can help with congestion and other symptoms. Always consult a healthcare professional for personalized advice.

Why am I having allergy symptoms in winter?

Allergy symptoms in winter are often due to indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, or cockroach droppings. As people spend more time indoors during colder months, exposure to these allergens increases, potentially leading to symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, or itchy eyes.

Do you take allergy medicine in the winter?

Yes, you may need to take allergy medicine in the winter, especially if you're sensitive to indoor allergens. These include dust mites, pet dander, mold spores, or cockroach droppings. Keeping your environment clean and taking prescribed medication can help manage your allergy symptoms.

How do you fix winter allergies?

Managing winter allergies involves reducing your exposure to indoor allergens. This can be achieved through maintaining clean heating systems, using air purifiers, keeping pets out of bedrooms, and regularly washing bedding in hot water. Additionally, over-the-counter or prescribed medications can help alleviate symptoms.

Is Wyndly right for you?

Answer just a few questions and we'll help you find out.

Get Started Today