Even though many think of winter as a season free from allergic asthma, it all depends on what the potential triggers for allergy and asthma are. There are various types of allergens as well as irritants that can instigate issues during the winter season when the cold weather forces everyone to stay indoors for more hours in a day. Understandably, before being aware of it, an individual might end up with symptoms such as coughing, sneezing and wheezing again.
Usual winter allergy and asthma symptoms
- Nasal congestion
- Itchy mouth or throat
- Runny nose
- Itchy, burning or watery eyes
- Difficulty breathing
- Chest tightness
Children with allergic can also experience the “allergic salute” in which they rub their noses upwards due to the itchiness and have allergic shiners which are dark circles under the eyes due to nasal congestion.
What are the common winter allergens and irritants?
The symptoms of allergic asthma usually come and go at any time of the year. With the upcoming winter season, it poses distinct challenges since both indoor and outdoor triggers can instigate the symptoms.
Staying indoors can expose the individual to substances that are not noticed so much when time is split between indoors and outdoors during other seasons. In addition, turning on the furnace can stir up pollen, dust and other allergens from the vents, filters and carpets.
Some of the common indoor allergens that are quite active during the winter season include the following:
- Dust mites
- Indoor mold
- Animal dander
- Insect allergens
In addition, there might be some irritants that are likely to be encountered during the winter. These irritants do not trigger the allergic reaction that allergens do, but they can further aggravate the already swollen airways among those who have allergic asthma. The common irritants during the winter season include cold outdoor air, secondhand smoke from tobacco smoking and smoke from wood fires in stoves and fireplaces.
Many of the indoor triggers are affected by the cleanliness of the indoor environment. It is almost impossible to eliminate indoor allergens entirely but keeping the house clean can help.
The weather during winter can vary from region to region, but if you live in an area where the winters are cold, the windy cold air can be considered as a frequent irritant every time the individual goes outside.
It is important to note that cold weather can also mean more wood fires and smoke that can irritate the airways. In areas with temperate climates, winter can bring on a lot of rainy damp weather which means higher levels of mold spores in the air.
Diagnosing winter allergies and asthma
Once the individual notices the allergic asthma symptoms to worsen during the winter season, it simply indicates that he/she have winter allergies. The best way to determine the potential trigger is to consult a doctor.