Do You Have Winter Allergies?

Do You Have Winter Allergies?

If you’re allergic to pollen, you may get a break when the weather gets cold. But if you have indoor allergies such as mold and dust mites, you may notice your allergy symptoms more during winter, when you spend more time inside.

When it gets cold and your furnace kicks on, it sends dust, mold spores, and insect parts into the air. They can get into your nose and launch a reaction.

Some common indoor allergy triggers are:

Allergy symptoms caused by dust, pollen, or mold include:

How can you tell whether your symptoms are from a cold, the flu, or allergies? A cold usually doesn’t last for more than 10 days. Allergies can linger for weeks or even months. Also, colds and flu sometimes have a fever and aches and pains, which don’t usually happen with allergies.

If your symptoms last more than a week, see your doctor. He may refer you to an allergist, who will ask you about your health history and symptoms.

The allergist may do a skin test where he scratches your skin with a tiny bit of an allergen or injects it just under your skin. If the area turns red and itchy, you’re allergic. There’s also a blood test to diagnose some allergies.

Treatments for winter allergies include:

You can’t prevent an allergy. But if you know you’re allergic, you can take steps to avoid a reaction. Use these tips:

If someone in your household is allergic to pet dander and you really want a pet, the best choices are animals without fur, such as fish. If you already have a cat or dog, don’t let it sleep in your bedroom, and give it a bath at least once a week.

Also, during the winter holidays:

If you have a pet allergy and you’ll be visiting people who have cats or dogs, take your allergy medication with you and keep up with your immunotherapy before you go. Bring your own pillow with you, too.


American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Tips to Remember: Indoor Allergens,” “‘Tis the Season for Allergic Reactions,” “Decorate Your Holiday Around Your Allergies and Asthma,” “Tips to Remember: Exercise: Induced Asthma,” “Allergic Rhinitis,” “Tips to Remember: Allergic Skin Conditions.”


Make these tweaks to your diet, home, and lifestyle.

Breathe easier with these products.

Live in harmony with your cat or dog.

Which ones affect you?


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That’s Something to Sneeze At!

That’s Something to Sneeze At!


Dust mites


About 20 million Americans are allergic to dust mites — tiny bugs you can’t see that thrive in dust. Their waste products cause sneezing, coughing, and more. At least they don’t bite.


Tests can pinpoint exactly what makes you sneeze inside your home — pets, mold, dust mites, or something else.

In your mattress

In your closets

In your air ducts

To avoid dust mites — and allergy symptoms — wash bed linens once a week in hot water, between 130 and 140 F. If you keep your water heater set lower, you could wash your bedding at a laundromat instead.


Also use dust-proof covers on your mattress and pillows.



Cat or dog fur itself isn’t usually the problem. What most likely makes you sneeze is your pet’s dander — tiny bits of dead skin that Fluffy and Fido shed.

 Some people also react to proteins in animal saliva or urine. Glands on pets’ skin, especially cats, also make a protein that gets on fur. So when you come in contact with the fur, your allergy gets worse.

Almost anywhere

Just in kitchens and bathrooms

Mainly inside walls

It isn’t a big allergy problem indoors unless mold finds a damp spot to grow. Then, look out, almost any damp spot will do. That includes wood, carpet, paper, and insulation.


Clean up mold where it grows and fix the cause of the moisture, such as a leaky pipe. To keep indoor humidity low, vent bathrooms and dryers, use a dehumidifier, and run vent fans when you cook, clean, and wash dishes.



It may be big business, but there’s no proof that it improves health. Even for people with allergies, it’s not a must-do. Dust in dirty air ducts doesn’t usually travel back into the living areas of the house.


One rare exception is when ducts are so clogged that tiny bits shoot into your home with each blast from your furnace or air conditioner.



Even with special filters, vacuum cleaners can blow around dust and pet hair while they suck it up. If you can, get someone who isn’t allergic to do the job.


When you’re stuck cleaning, your best bet is a central vacuum system in the house. Next best is a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA filter or double-layer bag. The machine should also have a sealed unit that won’t spew dust, as well as at least 12 amps of dirt-sucking power. Wear a dust mask, too.




Allergy shots get to the root of the problem: the body’s immune system. A full series of shots can take 3 years or more.


For some people, shots stop their symptoms for good. Others need to continue injections to keep effects like sneezing and itching at bay.

Wool blankets

Your feather duster

Wall-to-wall carpet

It’s a breeding ground for dust mites. Wood floors give them less cover to hide in. Throw rugs are OK if you can wash them or get them cleaned often.



The first line of allergy defense is to avoid triggers, which is why your doctor may tell you to find Tiger a new home. But many people with allergies do live happily with four-legged friends if they’re smart about it.


Banish pets from your bedroom. Install a central air filter and run the heat or A/C at least 4 hours a day. Wash walls often, and clean carpets with a HEPA-filter vacuum. Perhaps hardest, avoid petting and hugging your furry friend.


You could also ask your doctor about allergy shots.

Wipe them off.

Freeze them.

Hang them in fresh air.

Seal the toys in plastic bags and place in the freezer for at least 5 hours. Then rinse them in warm water and put them in the dryer to get rid of the dead mites.


Or try heat. Wash toys every other day in hot water. Dry them at the hottest setting.

It attracts cockroaches.

It attracts dust mites.

It’s a major cause of mold.

Cockroach allergies are creepy but common. They’re caused by the bugs’ body parts or by proteins found in their droppings or saliva.


People with cockroach allergies need to keep a super-clean house. Keep food and garbage tightly lidded, put away pet food, wash dishes right after a meal, and eat only in dining areas — even your midnight snacks.

They blow extra dust into the air.

Dust mites love moist air.

The ideal humidity level in your home should be between 30% and 45%. If you go much higher, dust mites and mold start to multiply. A cheap device called a hygrometer can measure the moisture.

Their trunks are moldy.

Their bark peels off.

The needles dry up and shed.

To avoid touching off a mold allergy, wipe down the tree’s trunk with a mix of 1 part beach to 20 parts water.


Also, to be sure you don’t bring outdoor allergy triggers into the house, use a leaf blower to blast any pollen off the tree before it comes inside.




Most often, a gram of dust (the weight of a paper clip) has about 500 dust mites, but it can hold as many as 19,000 of the teeny critters. The bugs feed on flakes of human skin and animal dander. The average adult human sheds enough skin every day to feed a million mites.

Your Score:

You correctly answered out of questions.

Congratulations! Your indoor allergy know-how is nothing to sneeze at!

You did OK, but aren’t you itching to learn a bit more?

Hmmm, try dusting off some info about allergies.

Reviewed by Melinda

Ratini, MS, DO on April 18, 2017

Medically Reviewed on April 18, 2017

Reviewed by Melinda

Ratini, MS, DO on
April 18, 2017

Tom Le Goff / Photodisc


American Academy of Family Physicians.
American Academy of Pediatrics.
American Christmas Tree Association.
American College of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.
American Lung Association.
Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America.
Environmental Protection Agency.
Gore, R.

Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology

, April 2003.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.
National Jewish Health.
University of Illinois Extension.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
World Allergy Organization.

This tool does not provide medical advice.
See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.

© 2017 WebMD, LLC. All rights reserved.


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That’s Something to Sneeze At!

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Allergic Asthma Triggers to Watch For

Allergic Asthma Triggers to Watch For

If your child has allergic asthma and inhales one of his triggers, that can launch an attack, making him cough, wheeze, and have trouble breathing. It’s best to know what your child’s triggers are so you can help him avoid them altogether or at least keep them far, far away.

Each person has their own set of asthma triggers, but there are some common ones you can watch for.

These tiny critters are one of the most common triggers of allergic asthma. They survive on the dead skin flakes that all humans shed naturally. They hide in sheets, mattresses, pillows, blankets, stuffed toys, carpets, curtains, and upholstered furniture. There’s not much you can do about shedding dead skin, but you can work to keep dust mites from bothering your family. Wash any bed linens that you can at least once a week in hot water, then put them in a hot dryer. Wash stuffed toys the same way. There are also special covers for mattresses and pillows. If you can, trade in carpets, rugs, and fabric furniture for wood, vinyl, and other smooth surfaces.

These pests are everywhere but are most common in cities and in southern U.S. states. They eat and drink the same things you do: water and leftovers. But they (and their droppings) can trigger asthma flares. To prevent them, keep food stored in the fridge or in an airtight container, wash dishes right after you use them, sweep up any crumbs, and plug any holes or cracks that let cockroaches get inside. You can also set out traps. If you see any roach droppings, sweep them up right away and put them in the trash. And keep a lid on your trash can inside and take it out often.

It’s both an indoor and outdoor trigger for allergic asthma. Outside, it thrives in soil and plant debris, which doesn’t really pose a health problem. Inside, mold is a hazard, lurking in damp places like basements, the kitchen sink, and anywhere you have leaks or standing water. Your best defense is to get rid of as much moisture as possible from your home. Clean up any mold you can see, use exhaust fans when you’re in the shower, and run a dehumidifier or air conditioner. A drier house will also cut down on roaches and mites.

Cats, dogs, hamsters, birds, and other furry and feathered friends can also be asthma triggers. But the fur and feathers aren’t the problem. It’s the animals’ dander, urine, and saliva. If you don’t have a pet, it’s best not to get one. If you do, try to keep her outdoors, or at least out of your child’s bedroom and off of upholstered furniture and carpets. It’s also a good idea to bathe the pet at least once a week and vacuum or sweep regularly.

Pollen allergies depend on where you live and the time of the year. For instance, pollen from trees tends to be a problem in the spring, while grass is a problem in the summer, and fall means weeds. (Climate change also means that pollen seasons can last longer than they used to.) Thunderstorms can also cause plants to release their pollen. Keep an eye on local weather forecasts and pollen counts, and have your child stay indoors on days when the counts are high.

There are a million good reasons to keep yourself and your child away from tobacco smoke, and allergic asthma is one of them. Secondhand smoke is extra toxic to young children because their lungs aren’t mature yet. Make sure no one smokes in your home or your car. Other types of smoke, such as from wood-burning stoves, can also make asthma worse. If you can, avoid wood fires, inside and outside.

Many household products give off scents that can trigger an asthma attack. This includes cleaning agents with chlorine, scented candles, incense, hairspray, air fresheners, deodorants and perfumes, paint, and pesticides. Look for fragrance-free personal care products. If you need to use paint or pesticides, make sure your child is not nearby.

WebMD Medical Reference

Reviewed by Hansa D. Bhargava, MD on January 04, 2018



UptoDate: “Trigger control to enhance asthma management,” “Patient education: Trigger avoidance in asthma (Beyond the Basics).”

Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America: “Allergens and Allergic Asthma.”

Environmental Protection Agency: “Asthma Triggers: Gain Control.”

American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology: “Indoor Allergens,” “Spring Allergies.”

CDC: “Common Asthma Triggers.”

Environmental Health Watch: “Controlling Asthma Triggers in the Home.”

American Lung Association: “Reduce Asthma Triggers.”

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Allergic Asthma Triggers to Watch For

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