Understanding Winter Allergies
After high pollen levels in the summer, the prospect of cooler weather may be appealing as the nights draw in. But allergens don’t disappear when temperatures drop, and winter allergies can still leave you feeling blue.
Read on to explore the common causes of allergies in winter, the symptoms you may encounter, and how you can overcome them.
Can You Get Allergies In The Winter?
If you’re a seasonal allergy sufferer, you might feel protected from allergens once the weather turns chilly. After all, there’s a lot less pollen in the air. The bad news? Winter allergies also exist and pose real problems for many people. Winter allergies are often “perennial allergies”1, meaning they can take hold at any point in the year, rather than being restricted to the spring, summer and fall.
Allergies stemming from cold weather are not triggered by pollen but by culprits such as mold spores, mildew, dust mites and pet dander2.
Remember that colds tend to be more widespread during winter. So, it’s always worth checking whether you’re suffering from a cold or winter allergies before taking any action.
When Is Winter Allergy Season?
Winter allergy season effectively starts when the mercury falls and we gradually spend more time in our homes. You may begin to experience these allergies in November, as fall gives way to winter. Staying indoors with the heating turned up might protect you from the midwinter chill. But it means more hours spent in close contact with your pets – and greater exposure to dust.
There are also outdoor menaces to consider, with mold and mildew potentially triggering winter allergy symptoms such as sneezing or a runny nose3.
The chances of experiencing seasonal allergies in winter triggered by pollen should be low. However, tree pollen could become an issue from early spring4 onwards and may even appear as early as January.
What Causes Allergies In The Winter?
From pet dander to dust mites, here are some common winter allergens to watch out for.
Pet dander and proteins from skin cells can cause an allergic reaction at any time of the year, especially during the winter months when we spend more time indoors.
Mold spores are a common cause of indoor and outdoor winter allergies. Think of these fungi as the equivalent of winter pollen. Mold spores float in the air like pollen5, potentially irritating your eyes and throat6.
Dust mites, which live on flakes of skin and dander, can be found everywhere – in your couch and bed and on your carpets. They particularly like warm and humid environments, making them a problem in winter.
If you suspect that you may have pet, mold or dust mites allergies, speak to your doctor to get confirmation or see if something else may be triggering symptoms.
Winter Allergy Symptoms
Winter and cold weather allergy symptoms can include:
- A runny nose and congestion
- Itchy eyes
- A sore throat2
When icy temperatures set in and you feel less than your best, you might confuse a common cold with allergy symptoms. The good news is it’s relatively straightforward to work out the difference between winter allergies and a cold. For example, a cold normally lasts no longer than 10 days, whereas winter allergy symptoms can linger for weeks or months. Speak to your doctor if any symptoms last longer than a week.
How To Alleviate Winter Allergies
Taking a few simple steps can help manage your symptoms whenever you experience allergies in winter. They include:
- Checking firewood for mold. Stop mold from getting into your home during the winter allergy season by brushing off any firewood outdoors. Only bring in what you plan to immediately use
- Wiping your feet. Always clean your shoes before stepping from the damp outdoors into your property. This will ensure wet leaves, mold and other potential causes of winter allergy symptoms stay outside
- Being smart with storage. Store seasonal items in airtight containers when they’re not needed to stop dust and mold building up
- Vacuuming regularly. It may seem a chore, but vacuuming will tackle dust mites and pet dander. Washing your bedsheets in hot water each week may also do the trick8
- Cleaning furnace filters. Keeping filters in order should reduce the amount of dust that comes out of your heating vents. A HEPA filter or dehumidifier might also improve the air quality within your home
- Bathing your pets. It’s worth regularly cleaning your pets. You could even stop them from coming into your bedroom if dander is a major problem
Try ZYRTEC® For Winter Allergy Relief
ZYRTEC® can offer relief from common winter allergy symptoms. Try our ZYRTEC® Tablets for quick relief that remains strong day after day. Our ZYRTEC-D® Tablets can also help if you’re struggling to overcome congestion and sinus pressure.
Can You Get Seasonal Allergies In The Winter?
You can still experience seasonal pollen allergies during the winter, although the chances tend to be quite low. It can depend on the type of pollen you’re allergic to, the region where you live, and how early spring comes.
How Can I Tell If I Have Winter Allergies?
Common winter allergy symptoms to look out for include an itchy or congested nose, and sneezing. These symptoms are similar to the common cold, so it may be worth asking your doctor for clarity.