By Tamer Abouras
Fall is a hotly debated season. Some love it for the colors, the mild temperatures and the fact that pumpkin spice flavoring can be added to seemingly everything. Others dread the beginning of school, the earlier darkness and of course, the allergies.
There’s really no getting around the fact that most of us, in the fall and spring, will probably fall victim at least in part to a few sneezes and some light congestion. While that tends to come with the territory, most of us look forward to the fact that as the darkness and colder weather settle in for winter, most outdoor allergens are driven away by those lower temperatures and there are at least a few months to breathe easy — until springtime rolls around with a fresh batch of pollens.
SEE ALSO: Drive and Stick
Unfortunately, while winter brings with it its own collection of unpleasant ailments and things to be wary of, experts say that there is also every reason to keep up with your allergy medications all throughout the winter season.
According to Lily Pien, MD, MHPE, of the Cleveland Clinic’s Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the indoor allergies we’re cooped up with all winter can be just as much of a nuisance as outdoor ones. Speaking to Fox News Health, Pen said, “If they have indoor allergens related to animal dander, to the dust mites and some people have problems with cockroaches, that exposure is just going to be higher and they’ll have more symptoms related to being indoors rather than outdoors.”
Fox added that although there are certain measures which can be taken to assist allergic conditions, such as using an air purifier, the humidity they generate can have a downside. “While the machine cleans the air of impurities, it can make conditions inside your home more humid — a condition in which allergens like dust mites and mold thrive.”
ADVANCE Opinion Poll: Is Hypoxic Drive Theory myth or reality?
And because of the colder weather, differentiating between a genuine respiratory infection and an allergic reaction can be significantly more difficult, as Pen noted, “This time of year when people are staying indoors more, viruses are more prone to become a problem, (It) probably would be a consideration for some of their symptoms, so you’re going to want to see, is it really my allergies?"
Tim Mainardi, MD, an allergist based at Hudson Allergy in New York City, offered some helpful tips for distinguishing between the two.
"If anything is itching — throat, eyes, nose — this suggests it's an allergic process," he said, while also specifying that any issues lingering longer than two weeks are very likely allergies as well. Per Mainardi, a more common symptom of an upper respiratory infection would include body aches and a fever.
So as the entire east coast braces for an intense winter storm and the season appears to be truly starting up in earnest, remain vigilant in treating your allergy symptoms if you’re the type of person who is susceptible to them.
Whether or not you’re a fan of the fall, it seems as though one thing can be agreed upon: between the cold outside and the allergies inside, very few of us are fans of wintertime.