published Thursday, January 24th, 2013

Ask a doctor: Even though it is winter, I am still sneezing every time I go outside. I thought allergies were only a problem when things are growing.

By Dr. Todd Levin

Q: Even though it is winter, I am still sneezing every time I go outside. I thought allergies were only a problem when things are growing.

A: Although some people only suffer from allergies during the spring and fall pollen seasons, most people will have some year-round symptoms. When the weather starts to cool, Chattanoogans start to spend more time inside, where they are exposed to dust mites, mold and animal dander. These allergens are incredibly common and can certainly contribute to inflammation in the nasal passages. Additionally, when patients do go outside in the cold, many people suffer from what is known as "vasomotor rhinitis," which is runny nose, sneezing, congestion. Cold weather, weather changes, smoke and strong smells are the most common triggers. There are many treatment options available, including nasal Atrovent, which is a drying agent, nasal antihistamines (like Patanase or Astepro) or even nasal steroid sprays. Treating indoor allergic triggers and lowering the inflammation in the nose also seem to help decrease outdoor symptoms.

— Dr. Todd Levin, Chattanooga Allergy Clinic, member, Chattanooga-Hamilton County Medical Society

Readers: To submit a question for medical doctors, email it to Clint Cooper at ccooper@timesfreepress.com. See this space each week for answers.

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