Most people are aware that sinus infections and sinus inflammations occur frequently during the springtime and the summer when pollen counts are on the rampage, and seasonal allergies are in full force. However, many people who persistently suffer from allergies can tell you that symptoms don’t always go away when the first freeze of the season hits, and pollen count theoretically takes a nosedive.
It can still happen that even during wintertime, sinus symptoms such as congestion, postnasal drip, coughing, runny noses, sinus pressure, and troublesome headaches occur with practically the same regularity as they might during spring or summer.
There are a number of reasons why this can happen, even in the absence of one of the biggest contributors to allergy symptoms, which is pollen from various plants. Here are some of the reasons why allergy sufferers may be just as miserable during the wintertime.
Mold and Various Kinds of Fragrance
Although they are seemingly innocent sources, holiday decorations such as plants, wreaths, and even Christmas trees and ornaments can trigger allergies, and all the associated symptoms, because of the dust which settles on them, and the mold which may be growing on them.
When decorations are stored for an entire year in the basement or somewhere else, it’s very easy for dust to accumulate on them, or for mold to begin growing on them. To prevent this, decorations should be stored in airtight containers, so that when they’re reopened at holiday time, you aren’t introducing fresh allergens into the household.
When you bring a Christmas tree into the household, make sure that it has been thoroughly shaken down, so it doesn’t have dried leaves or other material in the branches because these might contain mold.
Also, since windows and doors are generally tightly shut during the wintertime, it can intensify the fragrances from decorations and specially scented candles, which can act as irritants for your sinuses. It’s probably best to avoid using scented candles like this during the wintertime when doors and windows keep all those irritants inside.
Cold and Influenza
Extra mucus is generally produced when you have a cold or influenza, and it can also cause swelling inside the nasal passages. All this contributes to unusually difficult drainage, which promotes the buildup of mucus. When that happens, bacteria development is sure to follow, and a sinus infection may not be far behind.
The best way to avoid getting colds or flu is to conscientiously observe good hygiene throughout the entire wintertime, especially as it relates to washing your hands. You should also make a point of getting plenty of rest to help out your immune system, and when it’s available, you should always get a flu shot to protect yourself against the particular strain which is most prevalent this year.
Excessively dry Air
There is always considerably less humidity in the air during wintertime, than there is during summer, and as a result, the air in homes and in offices also becomes much drier. When the breathable air inside a building is that dry, it will have the effect of irritating nasal linings and the lining of the throat, which in turn will also trigger irritation in the sinuses.
To avoid the predominately dry air of wintertime, remember to use a humidifier to increase the moisture level in breathing air throughout the home. A good rule of thumb is to set your humidifier for about 50% humidity, so that dryness doesn’t bother your sinuses and trigger symptoms which are going to make you miserable through the holidays.
Pet Dander, Allergens, and Dust
It happens quite frequently that pet dander, dust, and other allergens become trapped indoors during the winter time, due to the fact that doors and windows are routinely kept tightly shut to keep the cold out. While it can be a bit of an undertaking to ensure that all these allergens are removed or suppressed, it will be worth it, in terms of your ability to enjoy the holiday season.
In the case of pet dander, you should make a point of bathing your cat or dog at least weekly, because allergens will naturally be attracted to fur, and they’ll stay there until removed. If you allow your pet to go outdoors regularly, you may want to perform the bathing routine even more frequently, because every time your pet goes outside, it will be a magnet for whatever’s floating through the air.
To eliminate, or at least reduce allergens elsewhere in the home, you can take such steps as vacuuming the carpets thoroughly, especially using a vacuum with a HEPA filter, that can pick up even the smallest allergens. You should also vacuum furniture and draperies to remove allergens which may have built up on those surfaces.
It’s a good idea to dust all around the home every few days, but when you do this, it should be with a damp cloth that retains the allergens, rather than using a feather duster which will simply relocate any allergies present.
Lastly, by changing your own clothes whenever you’ve come inside from the outdoors, you can be relatively sure you aren’t tracking in a number of allergens, which will be lying in wait to torment you during the wintertime.