Winter allergies can be a nuisance for many people, causing symptoms such as sneezing, congestion, and itchy eyes. Unlike seasonal allergies, which are typically triggered by pollen from trees, grasses, and flowers during the spring and summer months, winter allergies are caused by indoor allergens such as dust mites, mold, and pet dander.

Understanding the causes of winter allergies is the first step in managing symptoms. Dust mites, for example, thrive in warm, humid environments and are commonly found in bedding, upholstered furniture, and carpeting. Mold, on the other hand, grows in damp areas such as bathrooms and basements. Pet dander is also a common allergen, particularly for those who own cats or dogs.

To reduce exposure to these allergens, it's important to keep your home clean and dry. This includes vacuuming and dusting regularly, using a damp cloth to clean surfaces, and keeping humidity levels in your home below 50%. It's also a good idea to use a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter to remove allergens from the air.

If you are sensitive to pet dander, it's best to keep pets out of the bedroom and off of upholstered furniture. Additionally, it's a good idea to bathe pets regularly to remove loose dander.

Another tip for managing winter allergies is to avoid activities that can worsen symptoms. For example, if you are sensitive to mold, avoid activities such as gardening or raking leaves that can stir up mold spores. Also, if you are sensitive to dust mites, avoid activities such as making the bed or vacuuming when symptoms are severe.

Over-the-counter medications can also be used to manage winter allergy symptoms. Antihistamines, such as loratadine (Claritin) or cetirizine (Zyrtec), can be taken daily to reduce sneezing, itching, and congestion. Decongestants, such as pseudoephedrine (Sudafed), can also be used to relieve congestion. If you have high blood pressure, pseudoephedrine may not be right for you. Speak to a Drug Mart pharmacist to discuss your situation.

If over-the-counter medications are not effective, it may be necessary to see an allergist for further evaluation. An allergist can perform skin tests or blood tests to determine the specific allergens that are causing your symptoms and develop a more personalized treatment plan.

Allergy shots, also known as immunotherapy, are another treatment option for those with severe winter allergies. These shots are given over a period of several months to years, and can be effective in reducing symptoms and the need for medication.

It's also important to take care of your overall health during the winter months, as a healthy immune system can help to reduce the severity of allergy symptoms. This includes getting enough sleep, exercising regularly, and eating a healthy diet.

In conclusion, winter allergies can cause discomfort for many people. However, with a better understanding of the causes and the right management strategies, it is possible to reduce symptoms and improve your quality of life. Keep your home clean, dry, and allergen-free, avoid activities that can worsen symptoms, and use over-the-counter medications and see an allergist if necessary. Also, don’t forget to take care of your overall health, and consult a doctor if your symptoms persist. To choose the right over-the-counter medication for your allergies, stop by and visit us at Drug Mart Pharmacy or call us at 908-561-5300.