The Menace of Winter Allergies in Florida

By  //  January 21, 2021

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There’s a reason why Florida is colloquially referred to as the “sunshine state.” While the rest of the country struggles with the intense winter chill and snow, people in Florida continue to enjoy the warm golden sun.

But the state’s subtropical weather comes with a major setback. Considering that it never gets super-cold in Florida, allergy season isn’t just restricted to spring.

Don’t be surprised if you break into a sneezing fit after enjoying a picnic in your neighborhood park on a sunny winter afternoon.

With the COVID-19 pandemic still raging through the world, it’s only natural that you’d panic every time you get a sneeze or cough. Unfortunately, the overlapping symptoms of the novel coronavirus disease and seasonal allergies only add to the confusion.

Before you start obsessing over your symptoms, it’s important to know whether they’re being caused by winter allergens.

Common Causes of Winter Allergies

The warm and humid weather of Florida is the ideal breeding ground for various allergens, including pollen and mold. In most places, pollen allergies are restricted to springtime. However, considering Florida’s mild winter weather, you’re vulnerable to a pollen attack even when it gets colder.

Here are the leading causes of winter allergies in Florida:

Ragweed Pollen

Yes. Pollen is a real thing in Florida winters. This is because the ragweed plant tends to grow in humid conditions. And Florida’s winter weather offers the ideal habitat for it to thrive.

In its most common form, you’ll find ragweed pollen covering your car with a blanket of yellow powder. Also, it can cause a wide range of allergic reactions in humans. To begin with, it causes a scratching sensation in your throat that gets exacerbated by eating fruits, such as honeydew melon

It also leads to other symptoms, including:

■ Itchy and watery eyes

■ Sneezing

■ Nasal congestion

■ Coughing

Dust

Come winters and you’ll start spending most of your time indoors. You might even turn the heating system on as the mercury levels dip below normal. On top of that, you’d likely be wrapping up holiday decorations and keeping them in the dusty attic or storeroom after the festive season.

All these factors increase your exposure to dust, which, in turn, makes you susceptible to dust allergy. For instance, your home’s heating system might have residual dust, lint, and other particles from the previous season. If you turn it on without properly cleaning it, you’d end up spraying the dust particles into your living space.

Mold

The higher humidity levels of Florida winters create the perfect environment for mold growth. Common areas in your home that could be sheltering mold include the kitchen, basement, bathrooms, and closets. It can lead to various types of respiratory problems, including asthma.

Pet Dander

That’s right. Playing with your favorite pooch could be the reason you have itchy eyes and a runny nose. The problem worsens in winters because you’re likely to spend more time in proximity with your pets in closed spaces. This, in turn, increases your chances of exposure to pet dander.

Winter Allergy Symptoms

The symptoms of winter allergies largely vary depending on what’s triggered the allergic reaction.

Here are the most common symptoms you should watch out for:

■ Red, itchy, and watery eyes

■ Scratching or tickling sensation in the throat

■ Runny or congested nose

■ Coughing

■ Postnasal drip

■ Fatigue

■ Low-grade fever

In severe cases, it could lead to respiratory distress, chest tightness, and asthma attacks. It’s always a good idea to consult an experienced allergist if you develop any of these symptoms.

How to Tell If You Have an Allergy or Some Other Disease?

The symptoms of winter allergies, COVID-19, and the flu are fairly similar. However, if your symptoms show significant improvement after taking antihistamines, they’re likely being caused by an allergen. Also, it’s recommended that you get an allergy test done to identify the exact cause of your symptoms.

Winter Allergy Prevention Tips

Every year, nearly 50 million U.S. citizens have to deal with some form of allergy. This means allergies are pretty inevitable and you shouldn’t lose your sleep worrying about them. Instead, you can use the right preventive measures to minimize your chances of developing winter allergies.

The best way of doing this is to stay informed about the pollen levels in your area. You can easily do this by checking the pollen index on ClimaCell’s weather site for any location of your choice. This will help you decide whether it’s a good idea to go outdoors.

Also, thoroughly inspect various sections of your home, including the kitchen, washrooms, attic, and other damp areas to identify mold growth. Make sure you regularly clean these areas to prevent mold from accumulating. It’s also recommended that you devise a way to facilitate proper ventilation in these areas.

Here are a few more useful allergy prevention tips:

■ Keep the windows of your house closed whenever possible

■ Regularly clean and mop your home

■ Use a pollen mask when venturing outdoors

■ Take a shower after you return home

■ Regularly wash your clothes and dry them indoors

■ Install air filters and dehumidifiers in your living space

■ Consider getting an allergy shot

What techniques are you using to combat winter allergies in Florida? Share your tips in the comments section below.

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