0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

0

In This Article

Conquer the cold: Managing allergies during winter
179

Conquer the cold: Managing allergies during winter

Cold-like symptoms during winter can develop due to allergies. Taking appropriate measures to keep allergens at bay can help

Allergies in winter can be prevented by keeping the house clean, ensuring proper ventilation and washing the clothes and bedding

While winters can be cozy and blissful for some, the experience can be quite jarring for others. The thought of winter rings alarm bells for Manali Sarkar (31) from Bangalore, as her allergies come to the fore during this season. For her, winter is synonymous with a runny nose, sneezing, itchy and watery eyes, a persistent cough and nasal congestion, even when she is indoors. “The mornings are the worst. I have to cover my throat with a scarf even while stepping onto the balcony,” says Sarkar, who’s been dealing with allergic rhinitis for over a decade.

Being a corporate professional, she moved from Kolkata to Bangalore seven years ago, which has only made her problem worse. “Bangalore, which has a colder climate throughout the year, is known for pollen and dust allergies,” she says, adding that the symptoms become worse during February and March. “Doctors are now suggesting I switch cities again. I have tried all possible treatments and consulted multiple specialists, but to no avail.”

Experts say that symptoms like a runny nose, sneezing and cough during winter are often attributed to the drop in temperatures. However, they can occur due to allergies as well. “The winter season is very notorious for causing a lot of allergic airway conditions,” says Dr Somnath Gupta, senior consultant physician, Yashoda Hospitals, Hyderabad. “People usually tend to stay indoors during winter. As a result, their risk of exposure to certain allergens increases. The common allergens include dust mites, pet dander and mold, which can contribute to allergic reactions.”

Speaking about the manifestations, Dr Gupta says some people may present with allergic sinusitis, characterized by headaches and nasal blockages. “Few develop allergic bronchitis, where they present with a chronic cough lasting for a few weeks to some months. Further, some may also develop bronchial asthma, characterized by breathlessness, wheezing and coughing,” he elaborates.

Allergies vs cold

Dr Suneela Nayak, a consultant pediatric allergist and asthma specialist from Bangalore, says that it is vital to differentiate between an allergy and a cold. “Most people with a runny nose often use the two terms interchangeably,” she adds.

Revealing the differences between the two, she explains, “In the case of an allergy, you may feel unwell only during certain times of the day; another telltale sign is that allergies aren’t usually associated with a fever. On the other hand, a cold usually results from an underlying issue. It can cause symptoms like body aches, itchy eyes, congestion, etc. In addition, while a cold usually doesn’t cause a sore throat, it is a symptom of an allergic reaction.”

She also informs that colds are short-lived compared to allergies. “If it’s an infection, you must consult a doctor immediately. With the right treatment, you should get better in two to three days. However, in the case of an allergy, it’s essential to detect the allergen — which could be indoor or outdoor factors — and then come up with an appropriate treatment plan,” she shares.

Indoor and outdoor allergens during winter

Dr Nayak says that one of the most common outdoor allergens is pollen. “Symptoms like a runny nose, usually attributed to low temperatures, can result from pollen as well. Covering your ears and wearing warm clothes may not help if the symptoms develop due to an allergic reaction,” she adds.

Speaking about indoor allergens, Dr Gupta says, “People use room heaters during winter, which can cause allergens like dust mites and mold to circulate in the air. This can lead to allergic rhinitis, characterized by symptoms like nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, post-nasal discharge, etc.”

Dr Nayak also shares that while symptoms resulting from indoor and outdoor allergens are similar, the timing of their development will vary. “Keep an eye on when the symptoms appear. If you wake up in the morning and experience sneezing or itchy eyes, it is most likely due to an indoor allergen. On the other hand, if the symptoms appear after you’ve come back from outside, the trigger is most likely an outdoor allergen,” she elaborates.

Allergies during winter can hinder studies

The frequent bouts of typical cold-like symptoms were not easy to handle for Mythreyi M (15) from Bangalore. Her question on whether the symptoms resulted from frequent infections or an allergy was answered when she consulted a physician. “I was told I had an allergy to cold climates. Being in 10th grade, I have to focus on my studies; however, that has become difficult this winter. I’m not able to concentrate due to the allergy symptoms,” says Mythreyi as she eagerly waits for the summer.

She has been dealing with allergies for the past two months. She keeps herself warm with sweaters and socks. Apart from the medications, drinking warm beverages has also helped her address the symptoms.

Allergies during winter: How to prevent them?

Some may assume that nothing can be done to address allergies. However, Dr Nayak categorically denies the same. “This is not true. If you know what you’re allergic to, you can take up the appropriate remedial measures,” she says, stressing the importance of consulting an allergist.

Dr Yatin Dholakia, a pulmonologist from Mumbai, says that doctors may prescribe antihistamines, nasal decongestants and steroids for relief from severe allergy symptoms.

The preventive measures are different for indoor and outdoor allergens. “Pollen can not only settle on your skin but also enter your eyes or nose. So, wear protective eyewear and change into fresh clothes immediately after returning from outside to prevent pollen from getting transferred onto your bed or pillows. In addition, people wear ear muffs and fleece materials during winter. These are the places where pollen can settle; if you don’t address this, you could end up being exposed to it for much longer,” cautions Dr Nayak.

Speaking of addressing indoor allergens like dust mites, Dr Pavan Yadav, lead consultant, interventional pulmonology and lung transplantation, Aster RV Hospital, Bangalore, says that an effective way to keep them at bay is washing and sun-drying your clothes at least once a week.

Another common indoor allergen is mold, says Dr Nayak. “People may end up closing their windows due to the cold weather. This can impede proper ventilation, leading to mold formation. Ensure low humidity and adequate ventilation in the bathroom and kitchen areas. Also, fix any source of water leakage into the house,” she adds.

Dr Gupta says cleaning and vacuuming the house with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter, washing your bedding with warm water and using an air purifier or humidifier to prevent mold growth and dust mites are some general precautions one can take to prevent allergies. “Bathrooms and basements are more prone to mold,” he adds.

He also shares that while woolen clothes are synonymous with winter, some may be allergic to the fabric. Hence, it’s essential for them to avoid such clothes and opt for suitable replacements.

Sarkar says that simple measures that have helped manage her symptoms include wearing a mask when stepping outside, inhaling vaporized eucalyptus oil and using nasal and eye drops to clear congestion and manage irritation. “I carry these things with me wherever I go. At home, I change my bed sheets and pillow covers every two days. I also ensure the house is dusted every day,” she adds. She is planning to buy an air purifier for her home to keep allergies at bay.

Takeaways

While cold-like symptoms are often thought to result from low temperatures during winter, allergies can be the reason behind them as well. Allergens can broadly be classified into two categories: indoor allergens, which include dust mites, pet dander, mold, etc. and outdoor allergens, including pollen, cold climate and fungal spores. Certain symptoms, along with the duration of the manifestations, can help differentiate between a cold and an allergy. Keeping the house clean, ensuring proper ventilation and washing the clothes and bedding can help prevent allergic reactions.

Share Your Experience/Comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Summit Registration

NOTE: The summit will be held at NIMHANS Convention Centre, Bengaluru.

Wellness Registration Form

-
-
-
Total Amount INR 3000
Trending

Articles

Article
Some couples consciously decide not to have children despite familial and social expectations, wanting to make the best of their relationship. Children should be had for their own sake, says psychotherapist Tasneem Nakhoda
Article
Insufficient consumption of heart-healthy foods can affect cardiovascular health. Experts discuss beneficial dietary choices
Article
Cycling and walking are both great cardiovascular activities that aid weight loss and keep various health conditions away. Pick one that suits your fitness goals and physical condition, say experts
Article
Summer drinks, though hydrating, can have excess sugar. Nutritionists suggest a few alternatives to keep the body temperature and sugar levels down
Article
Packed with protein, this recipe will help in weight management by keeping you full for a long time
Article
Researchers have found that a quick snooze can improve the retention of information by strengthening memories, leading to better recollection over an extended period
Trending

Articles

Article
Some couples consciously decide not to have children despite familial and social expectations, wanting to make the best of their relationship. Children should be had for their own sake, says psychotherapist Tasneem Nakhoda
Article
Insufficient consumption of heart-healthy foods can affect cardiovascular health. Experts discuss beneficial dietary choices
Article
Cycling and walking are both great cardiovascular activities that aid weight loss and keep various health conditions away. Pick one that suits your fitness goals and physical condition, say experts

0

0

0

Web Stories 

0

0

0

0

0

0

Opt-in To Our Daily Newsletter

* Please check your Spam folder for the Opt-in confirmation mail

Opt-in To Our
Daily Newsletter

We use cookies to customize your user experience, view our policy here

Your feedback has been submitted successfully.

The Happiest Health team will reach out to you at the earliest