The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

January 4, 2013

Allergies can cause winter discomfort

By Robert Stoneback
The Daily Item

— DANVILLE – Sneezing and coughing? Even with pollen dead outside during winter, don’t rule out allergies as a cause discomfort this winter.

One of the main differences between allergy triggers in the winter, as opposed to warmer weather, is that most of the triggers are found indoors.

“Air is not exchanging as well as in the outdoor environment,” said Dr. Michael Facktor, immunologist at Geisinger Medical Center.

There is no pollen outside during the winter, but there are still plenty of sources inside that can irritate nasal passages.

Common causes can include mold, dust, animal hair and cigarette smoke.

“It’s all common sense. You just have to think about it,” said Facktor. “They don’t always cause a problem, but they can.”

To minimize dust, be certain the house is clean and don’t leave standing in water in places such as the sink or tub.

It’s also important to be able to tell the difference between a flu and allergies.

While a runny or stuffy nose is common for both, if that is the only symptom then the culprit is likely allergies. If fatigue, aches or a sore throat are also included, then an infection may be to blame.

Spring and summer allergies tend to be “more dramatic,” said Facktor, and include symptoms such as red eyes.

Winter allergies are often not as intense but tend to be more chronic, he said. “Winter allergies are typically more subtle” and affect the upper respiratory track, he said, whereas summertime ones more obviously attack the eyes and nose.