It’s wintertime, and it seems like everyone has got the sniffles. While much of that gets blamed on the common cold, which runs rampant at this time of year due to immune systems depressed by the cold and too much togetherness, a good portion is actually allergies. How can that be, when brisk temperatures and frequent precipitation make pollen unlikely? The answer is simple: indoor allergens.
As gross as this sounds, it’s really true: the warm air from your furnace carries with it dust, mold spores, and even insect parts. It’s not surprising then that when these things get into your sinuses, you have an allergic reaction. Let’s look at some common allergy triggers.
- Dust mites and their droppings can be a problem. These creatures are microscopic, and live in your mattresses and bedding. Though this may seem counterintuitive, a recent study indicates that one way to quash dust mite activity is to leave your bed unmade. This robs the mites of their warm, moist environment, and causes them to dry out and die. It’s a good idea to vacuum your mattress when you change your sheets, though, lest those dead mites become airborne.
- Mold thrives on moisture. Basements and bathrooms are prone to mold, which enjoys warmth and dampness. Try strategically placing a desiccant product or a humidifier, and clean visible mold with a bleach solution to kill the spores.
- As much as we love our pets, they can cause allergies. It’s not the fur that’s the problem, but a protein found in saliva, urine, and pet dander. Aside from getting rid of Fluffy and Fido, what can you do? Wash your hands thoroughly after playing with your pets, and try to keep the animals off of the furniture as much as possible. Use a vacuum with a HEPA filter to vacuum both the carpets and the upholstered furniture frequently, and wash your window treatments regularly. It’s also a good idea to get an air purifier with a HEPA filter.
So how do you know if it’s an allergy or a cold? A cold is shorter lived, for one thing. While allergies can last for months, a cold doesn’t usually go past the 10-day mark. Then, too, allergies cause the same coughing, itchy, watery eyes, runny nose, and sneezing that a cold would, but don’t come with the same body aches or fever.
In addition to removing allergens, there are some strategies for handling allergies. You can take antihistamines or decongestants, or go for allergy shots. To determine exactly what’s causing you to sniffle, it’s a good idea to go in for allergy testing.
At our clinic, we offer both allergy and food sensitivity testing. Embracing an integrated wellness approach, we seek to address the underlying cause of medical issues, rather than simply treating symptoms. For more information about how we can help you live a healthier life, call today for your free consultation.