We’ve been very lucky as winter this year in South Florida has been very mild. Only a couple of chilly weeks to show for it, really. Nonetheless, we’ve still had our good share of runny noses and frequent sneezes.
Is it a cold, allergy or sinusitis?
If your stuffy nose and cough lasts more than one or two weeks you most likely have more than just a cold or flu. Even though winter is many times overlooked by allergic rhinitis sufferers (aka hay fever – which means you’re allergic to dust, mold, pollen, mites or insect parts that linger in the air), you’d be surprised to know that winter can be just as bad or even worse than spring. With the arrival of low temperatures home heating systems kick-in, which stir all the dust settled in carpets, underneath beds and sofas, bookshelves, etc. And with all that flying around the air, and frosty weather keeping you indoors, those bothersome allergy symptoms (coughing, watery and itchy eyes, runny nose, sneezing) become more of a problem.
Allergic rhinitis puts you at higher risk of developing sinusitis. This is due to the fact that allergies can cause your sinuses and nasal passages to swell. This swelling prevents the sinus
cavities from draining properly, therefore increasing your chances of developing sinusitis or sinus infection.
True or False? Cold air triggers asthma symptoms.
True! Cold, dry air can be responsible for the onset of asthma symptoms like: wheezing, cough, chest tightness and shortness of breath. Viral and bacterial infections such as common colds and sinusitis, very frequent during winter time, can also trigger asthma symptoms and even severe asthma attacks. Asthma is caused by different factors in different people, which is why the smartest thing to do is to seek professional help and get personalized therapy and treatment.
True or False? It is safe for everybody to use over-the-counter (OTC) cold medications.
False! Asthma patients must always consult their allergist/immunologist before deciding to use medications other than those prescribed by their doctor, including OTC cold medicine. Many drugs have contra indicatory reactions when combined, so asthma patients must use extra precaution. For example, decongestants can cause palpitations when used with standard asthma medications such as, bronchodilators.
If you have never been tested for allergies but suspect you might be showing symptoms of an allergy, it is time to make an appointment with one of our board certified allergists. Let us improve your quality of life with customized treatment plans, so you can breathe easy once again!