If you think those sinus problems that plague you during the spring and summer months will go away when winter arrives, you are in for a rude awakening. The winter season can cause just as much sinus misery as the warmer seasons.
The good news is that you can minimize sinus or allergy flare-ups by taking some simple measures. This should allow you to spend more time enjoying winter fun and less time under the weather.
Winter brings cold and damp weather, both of which can worsen nasal congestion associated with allergies and sinusitis. You have a higher chance of catching a cold or the flu in the winter, which can spell trouble for your sinuses. The lining inside the nose becomes inflamed when you have a cold or flu. This inflammation prevents the sinuses from draining properly. As a result, mucus builds up, creating a perfect breeding ground for bacteria that can cause an infection.
People spend more time indoors in the winter. This fact causes more exposure to indoor allergens such as dust, pet dander, mold and smoke.
Winter holiday festivities can also wreak havoc on your sinuses. Mold that grows on Christmas trees may aggravate the sinuses. Alcohol causes inflammation of the lining inside the nose, so it may be a good idea to stick to non-alcoholic holiday drinks if you have these issues.
Scented candles or decorations and pine-scented artificial trees also irritate the lining of the nose, which can worsen allergies or sinusitis.
Winter Tips for Sinus Relief
Below are some tips to keep your sinuses clear and help you breathe a lot easier during the winter:
- Avoid the cold and flu by taking care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids and get plenty of sleep.
- Avoid stress as much as you can. Stress lowers your immunity.
- Use a humidifier to keep humidity levels higher. This can be especially helpful when you sleep.
- Keep pets out of areas in your home where you spend most of your time, such as the bedroom.
- Cover bedding and pillows with allergen-proof covers. Wash bedding regularly to keep away dust mites.
- Choose small rugs instead of carpeting. If you must have a carpet, clean and shampoo it regularly.
- Store artificial Christmas trees and decorations in sealed cartons and in a dry place. Just to be safe, open the cartons outside and let them air out outside for two or three days before using them.
If you have sinus problems that persist despite following these tips or using medication, see an ENT specialist or allergist.