The increased amount of time spent in home with the heat on can make year long allergies worse in the winter.

As winter approaches and the weather gets colder, it’s important that your patients be aware of allergy triggers. While some allergies are most prevalent in warmer weather, others get worse in the cold. Your patients may not know which triggers to be aware of, and parents may only now be learning about their child’s allergies.

Even when they’re not severe, allergies and allergic rhinitis can lead to a serious decrease in a patient’s quality of life. What should your patients know about winter allergies, some of the more common triggers, and what they can do about them?

Dust and Dander

Your patients should know that winter allergies are not necessarily a result of the cold. They can include more standard, year-round allergies that are triggered on account of increased time spent indoors.

Depending on the household, a common trigger could be dust or dust mites. If there is a pet in the household, a patient’s allergies may be triggered more often in the winter. In these cases the problem is less often pet fur but rather pet dander, a protein found in their skin flakes.¹ If patients have pet allergies, they may experience common symptoms like itching, sneezing, a runny nose, and rashes.

Cockroaches and Droppings

Cockroaches are one of the more common indoor allergies. Patients may not know they have cockroaches, and symptoms are similar to that of other indoor allergies.² Cockroaches seek warm and dark areas (which may be exacerbated when the heat gets turned on) and can leave droppings that go unnoticed. These can also trigger allergies, which can linger.

Mold

Mold may not seem like a winter allergy problem at first, as growth tends to peak in the summer.³ That growth can continue into the fall, however, and if the house is not properly cleaned it can become an allergy source. Mold spores can be a significant trigger of allergies and allergy symptoms, and the increased time spent in the home during winter only exacerbates that.

What Can Your Patients Do To Stay Safe?

Prevention is crucial to winter allergy management, and the most important preventative step is keeping a clean home. Consistent cleaning around the house (vacuuming, laundry, etc.) decreases the presence of dander, cockroach droppings, dust, mold, and other allergens. If your home is at risk of cockroaches, it’s important to take precautions including cleaning food and crumbs off surfaces, keeping open food containers tightly sealed, cleaning dirty piles, and keeping traps throughout the house.²

Many of these allergens are also made worse by the presence of moisture. Your patients may want to consider checking their bathroom and kitchen for leaks, as well as using a dehumidifier.¹

References

1. Jewell T. Winter allergies: causes, symptoms, and treatments. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/allergies/winter-allergies. Updated December 7, 2018. Accessed November 17, 2021.

2. White A. Cockroach allergy: what you need to know to stay healthy. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/cockroach-allergy. Updated November 27, 2018. Accessed November 17, 2021.

3. Handoyo S. Fall and winter allergies: what patients should know. UChicago Medicine. https://www.uchicagomedicine.org/forefront/health-and-wellness-articles/its-allergy-season-again-qa-with-allergist-steve-handoyo. Updated November 13, 2020. Accessed November 17, 2021.