Ask Nurse Kate: How to Manage and Overcome Winter Allergies
Most people associate allergies with the summer heat or the blustery days of fall. But for many of us, wintertime can cause a sore throat, itchy eyes, and other allergy concerns.
The good thing is, there are plenty of ways to manage and overcome winter allergies. We asked Nurse Kate some questions on the topic, and we hope her expertise can help guide you to a happy, healthy winter.
Every year I’m fine in the summer and fall, but when winter rolls around I start sneezing and I end up with a sore throat. What could be causing my allergies in the winter?
When the cold weather rolls around, we inevitably spend more time indoors. While this tendency helps us to stay warm and cozy, it also causes us to be exposed to more indoor allergens such as dust mites, pet dander and molds.
It’s annoying, but I’ve just accepted that I’m going to get sick at some point during the winter. How do I tell if my symptoms are from allergies, cold, or flu?
Good question! Cold and flu symptoms tend to be short lived, lasting only a few weeks. Allergies, on the other hand, tend to last longer. Sneezing and itchy, watery eyes often accompany allergies as well. The National Institute of Health has a great chart to help you determine if allergies, a cold, or the flu might be causing your symptoms. If you think you might have a cold or the flu and aren’t sure what type of treatment you need, or feel you aren’t getting any better, be sure to contact your local healthcare provider for more assistance.
I seem to sneeze whenever the furnace turns on in my house. What’s going on with that?
When the furnace turns on, air begins to circulate around the house, which kicks up those common allergens. If you are prone to allergies, you might find yourself sneezing more when this happens. A few ways to combat this issue is to dust and vacuum your home on a regular basis. Then check to make sure your furnace’s filter is rated to filter out common allergens.
We don’t like to keep our dog outside when it gets really cold, so he spends most of the winter inside with us. Is that alright?
Of course! Our furry friends are prone to getting frostbite and hypothermia in cold weather just like us. It’s great that you are bringing your dog inside. The Humane Society has a great article on ways to protect your pets during winter months – click here to check it out. If you find that your allergies are acting up since bringing your dog indoors, try some of the techniques described above.
When I try to work out inside it can be hard for me to breathe. How can I fix that, and when is it safe to exercise outdoors in the winter?
If you are having a hard time breathing at any point during exercise, stop what you are doing. Take a moment to catch your breath. If you are still struggling to breath after stopping the exercise, seek emergency medical attention immediately. If you catch your breath after stopping the exercise, consult with your doctor for further evaluation. He or she will be able to help you determine what might be causing your symptoms.
After coming up with a treatment plan, your doctor may give you the green light to exercise outdoors. This can be especially refreshing during the winter months, when we are otherwise cooped up inside. If you aren’t sure when it is safe to exercise outdoors during the winter, the Mayo Clinic offers excellent guidelines for keeping yourself safe and healthy when pursuing wintertime fitness.
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