According to the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, roughly 7.8 percent of people age 18 and over in the U.S. experience seasonal allergies. Marked by sneezing, watery eyes and congestion, allergies can make everyday life for sufferers something of a challenge. And while many people readily assume that allergies are only bothersome from late January through the beginning of summer, hay fever can affect people even during the winter months.

Speaking with Everyday Health, Dr. Matthew Rank said somewhere between 5 and 20 percent of Americans suffer from winter allergies. These cold-based allergies have a number of causes and considerations, and educating yourself is one way to prevent your allergies from ruining an otherwise joyous holiday seasons.

“Between 5-20% of Americans suffer from winter allergies.”

Common causes
As the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology pointed out, there are several causes that lead to winter allergies. Mild winter weather, which will force many plants to pollinate earl, could be perhaps the most significant contributing factor. When this happens, pollen and other plant material spreads suddenly, leading to an explosion of allergies. According to The Weather Network, winter 2015 will begin especially mild. However, meteorological experts do expect those warmer temperatures to drop by late winter, which could help to reduce some of the airborne pollen.

Rainy spring weather is another possible facilitator of winter allergies. This leads to mold outbreaks, which can wreak havoc on your allergies well into the winter months. As The Weather Channel pointed out, several parts of the country experienced record-breaking rain this past spring, including Texas, Colorado and Nebraska.

Indoor concerns
Pollen allergies will eventually fade during the latter parts of winter. However, winter raises another set of concerns: As more people remain indoors to ward off the cold, they raise their risk of exposure to harmful air particles like dust mites, mold and dander, according to Everyday Health. Luckily, there are steps you can take to safeguard your health.

Dust mites live on loose skin. To keep them from affecting you, it’s a good idea to wash your linens in hot water once every couple of weeks. Your cat or dog is typically the biggest source of dander, so be sure to bathe your pets frequently and keep them away from sensitive areas like your bed. Mold, meanwhile, grows in places with heavy moisture, and to prevent its spread you’ll need to scrub spaces like your kitchen, bathroom, laundry room and garage.

“Christmas trees contain microscopic mold spores.”

Winter is marked by a number of festivities, including Christmas. However, as beautiful as your tree might be, it can cause allergic outbreaks, as Everyday Health explained. That’s because trees often contain microscopic mold spores, and these can lead to bouts of sneezing and watery eyes. If you aren’t going to buy an artificial tree this year, just be sure to shake out your real tree before bringing it inside.

Combating illness
Unfortunately, there is no real cure for seasonal allergies, but you can live with the symptoms. If you get struck by a sudden wave of sneezing or a runny nose this winter, you can always visit a CareWell Urgent Care location. No matter the symptoms, CareWell‘s team of physicians can treat almost any acute illness.