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Allergies seem like they should be exclusive to the warm weather months. As the world reawakens in spring and flora blooms, irritants circulate, causing sneezing, runny noses, congestion and itchy or watery eyes. Those symptoms often last throughout summer and rear again in early fall. While most believe allergies are dormant in the winter, they can wreak havoc. Sinus infections and cold symptoms in the winter might actually be signs of winter allergies.

Recognizing the differences between a cold or flu and winter allergies can be tricky, since they share some symptoms. Coughing, sneezing and nasal congestion are common to both. Fever and achiness, though, are often associated with colds or the flu, making it easier to distinguish. Symptoms also shouldn’t last more than 10 days for a cold or flu. If they do, there’s a chance that it’s winter allergies. Other winter allergy symptoms include sinus headaches, bronchitis, shortness of breath, itchy or watery eyes, runny nose and even dark circles under the eyes.

Indoor allergies are more likely to be present in the winter than outdoor allergens, meaning those who have reactions to dust mites, mold or animal dander could suffer well into the cold months. Avoiding those allergens is among the best ways of dealing with winter allergies.

The board certified allergists of Allergy & Asthma Specialists also recommending cleaning bedding on a weekly basis, removing or cleaning items that have mold, as will using a high-efficiency particulate arrestance (HEPA) filter, which helps filter dust and other particles from the air. Keeping the house clean will also reduce the effects of winter allergies. Being mindful of where pets sleep is equally important. Having a pet sleep in close proximity can have a negative impact for those with allergies, as can having a pet sleep or spend time on the owner’s bed throughout the day.

When over the counter antihistamines or decongestants aren’t successful, seeing a board certified allergist at Allergy & Asthma Specialists is a great way to address the cause and determine an appropriate treatment path. At an appointment, an allergist can perform a state-of-the-art skin test to determine allergy triggers. Outdoor allergens like grasses, species of trees and ragweed, along with common indoor allergens like cats, dogs, dust mites and molds can be tested in office. Once the allergen or allergens are determined, the allergy specialist can prescribe a number of remedies, including allergy shots or immunotherapy to help combat the symptoms and build up a tolerance.

Living without allergies—even in the winter—is within reach, with the help of a board certified allergist, so you can get back to enjoying sledding or cozying up by a fire, congestion free.

To schedule a visit with the board certified allergists/immunologists of A&AS at one of the eight convenient locations, call 1-800-86COUGH, extension 2.

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