The first official Groundhog Day celebration took place on February 2, 1887, in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, and was the brainchild of local newspaper editor Clymer Freas. He sold a group of businessmen and groundhog hunters on the idea of gathering around the inaugural famous groundhog to see whether he saw his own shadow or not. Similar to this Groundhog’s Day just last week on February 2, 2022, the inaugural groundhog saw his shadow.

Punxsutawney Phil, as the groundhog is lovingly named, has promised all six more weeks of winter. Studies by National Climatic Data Center and the Canadian weather service have yielded a dismal success rate of around 50 percent accuracy for Punxsutawney Phil however, we are optimistic in Phil’s accuracy and hope to prepare everyone for additional exposures to winter allergens.

Winter weather and freezing temperatures do bring an end to seasonal pollen allergies, but millions of people are still living with winter allergies. Winter allergens, like indoor molds, dust mites, cockroach dander, and animal dander tend to increase in the home this time of year. Furnaces help to circulate airborne dust that is shaken loose from those much-anticipated holiday decorations coming out of the basement or attic. And indoor gatherings will continue to keep people warm but also exposed to the high concentration of these indoor winter allergens.

  • Dander It’s the dander (dead skin flakes), or saliva, not the hair of household pets such as cats and dogs, that can cause allergic reactions
  • Dust Mites These microscopic bugs might be the most common cause of year-round indoor allergies, notes the Allergy and Asthma Foundation of America. Dust mites thrive in bedding, carpeting, and the upholstered furniture inside your home.
  • Indoor Mold We all breathe in mold spores, but for those with an allergy, exposure can trigger sneezing, congestion, and itchiness. Mold and mildew favor damp areas, like basements and bathrooms.
  • Cockroach Droppings These persistent pests can live anywhere, and while they’re not a sign of an unhygienic or unsanitary household, it’s important to keep food well-contained and be vigilant about cleaning up crumbs. Fixing leaky faucets and pipes and sealing up cracks and crevices in your home can help keep cockroaches away

If you are currently experiencing itching eyes, coughing, sneezing, runny nose, or congestion, your provider won’t leave you out in the cold! Whether you are currently suffering or wanting to get a jump on spring allergy symptom prevention, typically this time of year providers can get you in quickly. If you are unsure if allergies are the cause of your symptoms, needleless allergy testing an offer an accurate diagnosis within minutes in the office. And whether an allergy diagnosis is brand new or you are a long time suffering allergy veteran, your provider can also develop an individualized treatment plan. Allergen immunotherapy can reduce or eliminate your need for medications.

Allergy is a chronic or long-term condition. Many allergy patients forget what it feels like to be well or symptom free. Allergen immunotherapy unlike medications is a natural long-term way to both treat and prevent allergies. This benefits you in symptom control and feeling better, but even more importantly in preventing the development of other allergies or asthma. Medications on the other hand are used for short-term symptom reduction rather than prevention or long term treatment. Many people, including children, also suffer side effects, some life threatening from these medications.

Allergy sufferers who also have asthma should be aware asthma symptoms can also become worse in the winter! Asthma symptoms can worsen due to cold and flu season, cold air outside, warm fires in fireplaces inside, and increased indoor allergens like we discussed previously.

Winter allergy sufferers can use a humidifier to reduce dryness in the air, but don’t turn your home into a rain forest. Dust mites can thrive in humidity over 60 percent and temperatures of 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Mold also grows faster in high humidity. Rank recommends a maximum humidity of 50 percent. Is possible avoid wall-to-wall carpeting, which provides a favorable environment for dust mites. Use area rugs instead or hard wood/cement floors instead. Clean regularly, using a vacuum with a high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter. Wash sheets weekly in hot water — at least 130 degrees Fahrenheit — to kill dust mites and use hypoallergenic cases for mattresses and pillows to keep dust mites trapped. Finally, minimize dander by bathing pets once a and try keep animals out of the bedroom or on the bed of anyone in the house who has allergies.