Winter. Seems like the longest season of them all. The days are short, the nights are long and for those in Houston, Texas, the winter allergies are just as annoying as those pesky spring ones.
There are a few trees in south and central Texas that actually pollinate in the winter, which is typically December through March. One of the most prevalent ones is the mountain cedar tree, a type of juniper. This pollen from this type of tree is primarily responsible for winter episodes of hay fever. Symptoms of this can include nasal congestion, a runny nose, sneezing, post nasal drop and watery and itchy eyes. An antihistamine, such as Allegra or Claritin, can significantly help reduce these symptoms.
During the colder months, it is often recommended to bring outdoor plants inside. Frost and lower temperatures can kill the plants if left outside. But did you know that pollen may not be the only possible allergen on these plants? Mold spores are quite prevalent on the outdoor plants. These spores float around in the air and then land on the leaves. When the plants are brought inside, the mold spores (like an uninvited guest) come in too, making themselves right at home.
Have you ever noticed when you come in from the cold your nose starts to run? This may account for all those tissues that magically appear in all of your coat pockets. This is called vasomotor rhinitis, a form of non-allergic rhinitis that results in a runny nose, post-nasal drip and nasal congestion. While not technically caused by an allergy, it has similar symptoms. These reactions can be caused by a change in temperature, windy weather, strong odors and a change in humidity.
Another “seems-like-an-allergy-but-isn’t-really-one” condition is cold urticarial. This is defined by the development of hives and swelling caused by exposure to cold. Cold triggers can be the weather, food or even drinks.
The only way to find a treatment for these symptoms is to pay a visit to your local Houston allergy clinic. Once there, a series of tests will be performed in order to determine what exactly you are allergic to. On