Most people are aware of seasonal allergies that occur in the spring and fall, but winter allergies are often overlooked. One big reason is that people often have a runny nose during the winter from the cold or flu, so many people with allergies just assume that they have an infection too.
Another reason is that winter allergies are less common than other types of seasonal allergies. And many people with seasonal allergies often get better during the winter.
While ragweed may cause fall allergies and other pollens cause spring allergies, winter allergies can be caused by mold, dust mites, etc. As people spend more time inside during cold weather, these indoor allergens can trigger your children's allergy symptoms, including a runny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, and a cough.
Pets can be a special problem, as they too often spend more time indoors during the colder winter months.
Another common cause of allergies during the winter holiday months is the Christmas tree. While a live tree can be beautiful and fragrant, it can trigger allergies in some people. A live tree can also hide mold, which itself can trigger allergy symptoms even if you aren't allergic to the tree itself.
If you have an artificial tree and you get allergy symptoms during Christmas time, it could still be the tree, or at least the lights and ornaments which might have mold or dust on them if they have been stored for long periods of time.
So what can you do about winter allergies? As with other allergies, you should avoid what you think is triggering your allergies and consider taking allergy medications, such as an antihistamine and/or a nasal steroid to control your child's symptoms.
The following steps may help to control common allergens, including dust mites, mold, animal dander, which can trigger allergies during the winter:.
- Consider geting an artificial Christmas tree instead of a live tree.
- Get rid of dust collectors, including heavy drapes, upholstered furniture, & stuffed animals.
- Use an airtight, allergy-proof plastic cover on all mattresses, pillows and boxsprings.
- Wash all bedding and stuffed animals in hot water every 7-14 days.
- If you must keep pets in the house, at least keep them out of your child's bedroom and wash your pet each week to remove surface allergens.
- Avoid exposing your child to molds by keeping him away from damp basements or water-damaged areas of your home (check under carpets).
- Remove carpeting if possible.
- Vacuum frequently (when your child is not in the room, since many of the things that cause allergies are small enough to go back out of the vacuum cleaner bag).
- Cover air vents with filters.
- Avoid the use of ceiling fans.
- Consider using a HEPA filter to control airborne allergens (these only work if what you are allergic to is airborne, which doesn't include dust mites and mold).
- Keep indoor humidity low, since dust mites and mold increase in high humidity.
- Provide a smoke-free environment for your child (it is not enough to simply smoke outside).