RALEIGH COUNTY, WV (WVNS) — When chilly weather moves in, cold and flu are the typical conversations. Nobody wants one of those bugs.

But winter allergies are another cause for concern. They can bring on sneezing, congestion, runny nose, itchy eyes and coughing.

“Definitely, allergies are in the winter, too,” said Lisa Walker, nurse practitioner for Raleigh General Hospital. “Usually, we’re hearing about them in the summer, but they’re just as bad in the winter, if not worse because you’re enclosed all the time, so you’re exposed to that allergen all the time.”

 Spring, summer and fall allergies are usually caused by pollen, but Walker said winter allergies can be caused by dry heat and dust. 

Windows and doors are closed during the winter months, so allergens recirculate around homes and around businesses, including the dander shed by pets.

Walker said running a humidifier, keeping spaces free of dust and frequently washing sheets and pillows are ways to combat allergens.

Experts say a clean HVAC system helps control allergens.

“We recommend that you change your filter every 30 days,” said Andrew Kincaid, an HVAC expert at Lute Supply in Crab Orchard. “Just like with operations of our business, if we go on a 30 day trial, after the 30-day mark, we always replace our filter. So it starts with taking care of it throughout the year.”

If these methods don’t alleviate problematic symptoms, Walker said, Singular and other medicines may offer relief.

“Antihistamines are great,” she said. “The antihistamine over the counter, of course, is Benadryl, but if you’ve talked to your provider, and you notice that you have allergies, they may even suggest something like (prescription) Zyrtec, Allegra, Claritin, something like that.”

Walker said natural treatments like neti pots are also an option for some.