Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Prepare Yourself For NYC’s Winter Allergies

There is no place better to be for the holidays than in New York City but for many with allergies and asthma, the winter season can be the furthest thing from jolly. Those with pollen allergies may get a break with the cold weather but if you are allergic to the common winter allergens, spending winter months inside your NYC apartment can vastly affect your allergy symptoms.

Every household has potential allergens and here are some of the most common triggers for indoor allergies, according to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, & Immunology (AAAI):

Dust: Dust can be made up of many things, including tiny bits of plants, skin, insects, fibers, and animal matter. Any of these, or a combination of substances, could trigger indoor allergies.

Dust Mites: Dust mite allergens thrive on dust and are a common trigger of allergy and asthma symptoms. They can be found throughout the house, thriving in warm, humid environments such as bedding, carpeting, and upholstered furniture.

Indoor Mold: Indoor mold and mildew thrive on dampness usually found in basements and bathrooms. Once they take hold, mold and mildew shed tiny spores and these spores trigger indoor allergy symptoms.

Pet Allergens: It is important to know that there are no “hypoallergenic” breeds of dogs or cats. An allergic reaction is caused by a tiny protein in an animal’s saliva. Believe it or not, even homes without pets may contain dander, the dead skin flakes that can be found in the animal fur, on furniture and in household dust. This is because pet dander is sticky, light, and can easily cling to cloth, shoes, and hair.

More than 50 million Americans are allergic to everything from dust and dander to mold and mites. Due to the cold weather, people tend to spend more time indoors, which can irritate your allergies. Anything from dust mites, pet dander, smoke, fumes and other chemicals can trigger symptoms. When it gets cold, people tend to use their furnaces more, which sends dust and mold spores into the air, which can get into your nose and trigger an allergic reaction.

You can develop an allergic reaction at any time and even if you've never found yourself sneezing from your grandmother’s cat or the new flowers you planted the backyard. This is because you can suddenly have an allergic reaction to something at any age, even if it’s never happened before.

One of the challenges with winter allergies is that they are commonly mistaken to be symptoms of the common cold. As a result, it can be hard to determine which one you have. Here are a few tips on how you can tell the difference:

Indoor allergy symptoms
  • A running nose
  • Watery/Itchy eyes
  • Symptoms linger for weeks
Cold symptoms
  • Discolored (yellow or green) nasal discharge 
  • Chills and body aches/pains
  • Symptoms linger a week or 10 days

With holidays just around the corner, here are a few tips to minimize the presence of allergens, especially the ones more prevalent during the winter months. If you have a Christmas tree, you may consider buying an artificial tree to avoid aggravating any tree allergies. Be sure to dust off ornaments before hanging them up if they’ve been sitting in a box for a year. Also consider buying plastic ornaments over fabric ones, as they tend to collect and hold on to less dust, and if you are traveling, consider bringing your own pillow to ensure that it’s clean and allergen free.

Don’t let allergies pester you over the holidays. If you live in the NYC area and think you are experiencing symptoms of winter allergies, schedule an appointment at Hudson Allergy. If it seems right, the doctors can perform a skin test to help identify the issue and provide you with a proposed action plan on how to remedy or improve the allergy. You can call (212) 729-1283 or schedule an appointment online here.

photo credit: Squirmelia via photopin cc