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Why Allergies Persist in Philly in Winter – and What to Do About It

Many Philadelphians are used to a certain set of symptoms each winter. Think sneezing, a runny nose, nasal congestion, and itchy or watery eyes. It sounds like the result of a winter cold, right? But before you go wasting your extra dollars on cold medicine, you should be careful: Many people go for years without realizing their symptoms during the winter are actually due to allergies.

The difference can be hard to make out, but it’s critical to know what’s causing your symptoms in order to actually find relief. Here’s how to determine if winter allergies are what’s ailing you—and what to do about it if they’re the culprit.

Finding the Source of Your Symptoms

Finding out if you have winter allergies is pretty simple. If your symptoms last longer than ten days, you’re probably dealing with allergies. That’s doubly true if you aren’t dealing with fever or achiness, which are symptoms of the common cold or flu.

Most importantly, indoor allergies persist year-round, so if you’re allergic to dust mites, mold or animals in the summer, those allergies might only get stronger in winter as you spend more time indoors.

How to Prep Your Home

Since the cause of your winter allergies are probably within your home, part of the solution is to identify what in your home is causing the allergic reaction and put a stop to it.

That means figuring out what your triggers are. The best way to do so is to see an allergist, who can determine exactly what causes your allergies. Allergy & Asthma Specialists, for example, offers state-of-the-art skin testing without needles to determine your exact allergy triggers.

Once you know what triggers your symptoms, some simple environmental controls and changes can make all the difference. If allergic to mold, discard or clean any household items that might provide a space for it to grow.

For dust allergies, wash your bedding in hot water each week to eliminate dust mite droppings, and use a HEPA air filter to clear the indoor air of dust mite matter and animal dander. Air filters also help to clean the air of bacteria and virus molecules.

For pets, it’s important to know that the amount of animal dander in your home increases during the winter, so make sure to keep your pet clean and away from your bedroom or home office—anywhere that you spend most of your time.

How to Prep Yourself

Supercharging your immune system isn’t just for colds—it also helps with winter allergies. Get plenty of rest, eat well, and reduce stress over the holidays and into late winter, and you may find your allergic reactions are less severe.

If you really want a complete solution, however, try seeing an allergist. A great allergist will develop a personalized medication treatment plan to ease your symptoms. Treatment may include the right combination of over-the-counter antihistamines or decongestants. While decongestants help open your nasal passageways when you feel congested, antihistamines will relieve a variety of symptoms and, taken regularly, build up in your system to prevent flare-ups. However, trying to land on the right combination of meds can be frustrating and expensive without getting relief. Depend on an allergist to help you personalize your medications.

If symptoms are persistent, immunotherapy might be the best option. Immunotherapy is a treatment that decreases your sensitivity to allergic triggers. Through the gradual administration of your allergens, it helps your immune system build up your own natural immunity, safely and effectively, making you less allergic. The expert physicians at Allergy & Asthma Specialists prescribe personalized immunotherapy in three forms; injection, sublingual (or drops under the tongue you take at home), and tablets.

If this is the year you just can’t take your seasonal cold symptoms anymore, take action: If it’s actually an allergy, you might not have to deal with it for even one more winter.

Fellowship-trained, board-certified allergists/immunologists at Allergy & Asthma Specialists provide comprehensive allergy and asthma diagnostics and state-of-the-art treatment at offices in Center City Philadelphia, Blue Bell, King of Prussia, Jenkintown, Doylestown, Lansdale, Pottstown, and Collegeville, PA. Schedule today online at www.AllergyandAsthmaWellness.com or call 1-800-86COUGH.