Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation | TheUnion.com

Updates from Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital and Hospital Foundation


If you think allergies go away in the winter, think again. Allergies occur when a person reacts to an environmental substance that damages the immune system’s response to the body. Allergic symptoms become evident when the body becomes hypersensitive to particles and substances such as pollen, fur, food and dust.

It can be hard to figure out whether your stuffy nose and watery eyes are caused by the common cold or allergies. True cold symptoms generally last for about three to seven days and then start to dissipate. Allergic reactions can persist much longer and can come and go.

There are a couple ways to tell the difference between your winter allergy and cold symptoms. Nasal secretions with allergies tend to be watery and clear, but are discolored with a cold. Winter allergy reactions tend to include itchy eyes and throat where the common cold reactions tend to be chills and body aches.

One reason people experience allergy spikes during the winter and especially now during COVID-19 is they are settled into their homes during this chilly holiday season and are exposed to irritants such as pet dander, mold or mildew. Understanding allergic triggers can determine how you will handle yours. Pet dander is caused by a reaction to proteins found in an animal’s skin cells, saliva or urine. Mold and mildew can be something as simple as decaying leaves and yard waste. Damp cut wood becomes a haven for mold spores and when you bring it inside you’ve invited a classic allergy trigger.

If you are concerned about allergies, you should talk to your physician in case you need a prescriptive treatment. There are also ways you can manage symptoms on your own. For example, if you know mold from leaves is a problem, stay inside on a windy day. Sweep and dust often to reduce indoor allergens. Washing your hands and face often reduces the spread of allergens you are carrying on your body. Wash your bedding often or purchase bedding that is less permeable to allergies like dust mites.

Some people find relief in a saline solution. This is a great home remedy to relieve nasal congestion or irritation. During winter when we keep our thermostats turned up, if you are blowing your nose a lot it is easy to get dehydrated. Carry a water bottle, drink hot liquids, or eat water-rich fruits and vegetables.

People with a history of allergies may consider a hygrometer which is a humidity monitor that helps track moisture so you know where to adjust your humidifier/dehumidifier. Aim for humidity no higher than 50 percent or lower than 30 percent.

Allergy medications can relieve symptoms like itchy eyes and nasal congestion, but have to be used correctly. If you suffer from allergies, you are not alone. Over 40 million Americans are prone to allergies year round. If you are not finding relief with lifestyle adjustments or over-the-counter remedies, it might be time to speak to your physician or an allergist.

Be safe. Stay masked!

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