August 6, 2017

Common Causes of Winter Allergies

Winter allergies are not so common compared to those during other seasons. However, there are many people around the country who experience severe allergy symptoms in winter. Besides the fact that wintertime is the season of mountain cedar pollination, there are a lot of other triggers present during this time that can be the cause of the annoying symptoms. These triggers include indoor christmas trees, outdoor mold, and other irritants like cold and wind that are also causing nasal symptoms. You may also experience a condition known as cold urticaria – hives caused by cold temperatures.  

 

Mountain Cedar Pollen as an Allergy Trigger

Mountain cedar, which is also known as ashe juniper or blueberry juniper, is a drought-tolerant evergreen tree of the Cupressaceae family. It mainly grows in South and Central Texas and can also be found in northeastern Mexico and the south-central United States. In these areas, mountain cedar is almost the only pollen source in winter. The tree’s pollination season starts in December and lasts until the end of March. Mountain cedar usually pollinates very intensely creating large clouds of pollen grains that remind clouds of smoke.

An allergic reaction caused by mountain cedar pollen is typically referred to as “cedar fever”. The symptoms of cedar fever are similar to those of hay fever. They include sneezing, nasal congestion, runny nose, as well as itchiness in the eyes and nose. Although this type of allergy is called “fever”, the condition is not related to an actual fever.

The pollen of mountain cedar is very similar to the pollen of other trees of this family, such as juniper and cypress trees., which are found in other parts of the United States of America.  Unlike mountain cedar, the latter pollinate in spring. People allergic to mountain cedar pollen are also allergic to the pollen of juniper and cypress trees.

Mold as a Winter Allergy Trigger

People allergic to mold may experience annoying symptoms during the wintertime. Airborne molds, that are present as indoors as outdoors, are one of the most common triggers of allergic rhinitis and asthma symptoms. Outdoors molds are usually present in places with colder climates, normally from the late winter to early spring.  On rainy days, the concentration of molds in the air is even higher.

Although indoor molds can be present year round and their levels normally depend on the humidity inside the home, the increased levels of outdoor mold lead to higher indoor mold levels, as well. This means that indoor molds are often caused by the the outside environment.

Christmas Trees as an Allergy Trigger

Each year many people notice worsening of their allergy and asthma symptoms during Christmas holidays, when they bring a fresh pine tree indoors. For years, specialists have suspected that Christmas trees might be causing or worsening allergy symptoms. However, it is not clear why. Pollen, mold spores, and odors emitted from the tree are among the potential reasons.  

Cold Weather as a Cause of Runny Nose

When the weather gets colder, more and more people are having a runny nose. The reason why you may experience this symptom is normally vasomotor rhinitis. This is a non-allergic form of rhinitis, whose symptoms may include a runny nose, post-nasal drip and nasal congestion. This condition is usually caused by temperature changes, windy weather, humidity level changes, strong odors, perfumes, or smoke.

Cold as a Cause of Urticaria

In some people, exposure to the cold may cause the condition known as cold urticaria (cold hives). It is a form of physical urticaria that occurs as a result of cold exposure, including cold weather, cold food and drinks, and cold water.

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