A QUICK SOLUTION FOR WINTER ALLERGIES
Many people are convinced that allergies are worse during the spring and summer months; however, they can also occur in winter. Since this period of the year generally tends to spend more time indoors, people allergic to dust, mould and animals have great difficulty in dealing with and controlling the symptoms. The best way to manage winter allergies is to minimize exposure to allergens and take medication to treat persistent symptoms as needed.
1) Minimizes exposure to dust and its mites.
Both are allergens typical of closed spaces; therefore, when winter comes (and you spend less time outdoors) the symptoms may get worse. The best way to combat them is first and foremost to prevent (or minimize) exposure to these substances. Here are some methods:
Buy a HEPA filter that purifies the air from the dust and therefore reduces the allergic symptoms;
Wash the sheets at least once a week in very hot water, to avoid the accumulation of dust and mites;
Wrap the mattress and the pillow with an antiallergic lining, always with the purpose of reducing the accumulation of dust and of the relative mites;
Use the vacuum cleaner on carpets and carpets at home at least twice a week and regularly clean all surfaces on which dust accumulates.
2) Eliminates mould throughout the home.
This is another common allergen that can aggravate symptoms during the winter months (due to its presence indoors). Mold grows in wet areas, such as in areas where there are water leaks from pipes or roofs, in the shower or in the bathroom and wherever there is moisture. Among the strategies to reduce exposure, consider:
Throw the shower curtain, carpets or other household items on which mould has developed. If you see it on some element, the best thing to do is get rid of it;
Use a dehumidifier to reduce the rate of environmental humidity to less than 50%; since the mould develops above all where there is a lot of humidity, the device prevents its growth.
3) Make sure the pet is thoroughly clean.
In winter, even animals, as well as people, spend a lot of time indoors and if you are allergic to dogs or cats, you may find that the symptoms get worse in the cold months. If you have a severe allergic form, you should choose a hairless animal, like a fish or a lizard; if instead you have only a slight allergy and you are trying to manage it at best, you can consider the following options:
Wash the animal at least once a week; this is because, unlike popular belief, the most common allergen is not the hair, but dandruff (that is, the dead skin cells that come off spontaneously from the body). For this reason, making the bath reduces the amount and limits the allergic symptoms;
Keep the animal out of the bedroom.
4) Plan the holidays.
When the holiday season is approaching, there are some additional measures you can take to better manage allergies and avoid losing control of them; among this currency of:
Take a synthetic Christmas tree, because real ones can potentially develop mould; in addition, some people are allergic to their scent too.
If you choose a real tree, wash it carefully in the garden using water before bringing it into the house and decorating it.
If during the holidays you visit relatives who have an animal (and you are allergic), plan the meeting appropriately, asking to stay in a room as far away from the animal as possible and remember to bring the drugs with you antiallergic, if necessary.
5) Know that the rhinorrhea that occurs outdoors is not caused by the allergy.
Some people confuse the leakage of mucus from the nose when it is outdoors in winter with an allergic reaction, while the two factors are not actually connected. “Cold” rhinorrhea is a physiological vasomotor response and is associated with changes in temperature, humidity, windy weather, strong odours or smoke.
6) Improve nutrition.
Naturopaths recommend that you follow a healthy diet as a method to reduce allergy symptoms. In particular, it is recommended to eat fewer fats and many complex carbohydrates (those with a low glycemic index, such as whole grains). Among the dietary tips to better manage winter allergies consider:
Eat plenty of vegetables (especially dark-green, carrots, beets, cabbage and sweet potatoes), carbohydrates with a low glycemic index (such as quinoa and whole grains) and spices (garlic, ginger, cayenne pepper and horseradish);
Avoid caffeine, alcohol, dairy products, red meat, sugar and wheat as much as possible;
Keep a good hydration.
7) Rests a lot.
It has been found that rest is able to strengthen the immune defences effectively, as well as reducing the unnecessary stressful response related to allergies; the better you rest, the more you can keep allergies under control. Although not a “cure” guaranteed against winter allergies, it is still a step in the right direction and some naturopaths believe it is the first area in which to make changes.
8) Contact an alternative medicine professional.
If you prefer natural remedies to those of traditional medicine, this is an excellent opportunity to make an appointment with a naturopath, an acupuncturist or another professional who deals with alternative medicine, which can offer you more information and show you some specific strategies to manage the winter allergies that afflict you.
9) Try antihistamines.
These drugs help to reduce sneezing, the need to blow nose and itching from winter allergies; you can buy them in the free sale at pharmacies and parapharmacies. Among the best-known brands are Zyrtec (cetirizine), Claritin (loratadine), Telfast (fexofenadine) and Benadryl (diphenhydramine); follow the dosage described on the leaflet.
Keep in mind that many antihistamines, such as Benadryl, can have a sedative effect and slow reflexes; you should opt for those that do not create drowsiness, for example, Claritin, Zyrtec or Telfast.
10) Take a decongestant.
If you can not manage the nasal symptoms (such as rhinorrhea and constant congestion), you can try this type of medicine. Search for over-the-counter products based on phenylephrine or pseudoephedrine and refer to the dosage instructions for dosage.
If you experience symptoms of congestion due to winter allergies, the best treatment is a decongestant in tablets.
11) Use a nasal spray.
Typically, this drug works faster than tablets; you can have a spray medicine prescribed to treat congestion, rhinorrhea, itching of the eyes and throat. You can opt for a saline spray, which is safer for everyday use and can be used by both children and adults; alternatively, take spray-based antihistamines, corticosteroids or spray decongestants.
At the pharmacy you can find antihistamine sprays such as azelastine (Rinazine) and olopatadine (Opatanol eye drops); they are effective but can cause drowsiness.
Alternatively, you can take decongestant nasal sprays, such as Actifed nasal or Vicks Sinex (oxymetazoline hydrochloride); however, they are only recommended for a short time – no more than three days – as prolonged use can cause the rebound effect, aggravating congestion symptoms.