This Can’t Be Right

So what is going on with persistent allergy symptoms when the pollens are NOT very high? This patient is using the term “allergies” to describe “symptoms” of allergy that may not be IgE-mediated allergy at all. Doesn’t mention skin testing, but this testing can be completely negative in this scenario. How frustrating!

Positive skin tests look like this….


In fact, often I am tested for allergy and had no reactions even though I sneeze my head off during the fall season?
You cannot assume that pollens are the only cause of persistent rhinitis. Various conditions are called infectious rhinitis, vasomotor rhinitis, that have nothing to do with allergy but still because lots of nasal drainage and congestion.
In fact we are now entering into the time of year (late fall and winter) when many symptoms of sneezing, coughing, asthma are thought to be due to allergy but are really due to infection or cold air. Your body does not tell you when triggers change, but that is actually what is happening.
This writer from Reddit also complained of more symptoms that would suggest asthma during the fall pollen season, but yet low allergy counts.
Again, allergies are not the only cause of asthma even though the highest time of admissions for asthma occurred during the third week of September. Certainly, not all these patients have allergy. We have been inundated with COVID-19, and this virus shares many similarities with the common cold–do not be surprised if sneezing congestion, nasal drainage during the winter makes you think of Covid-19, but is actually rhinovirus induced asthma.

Look at the examples of sinus infection below. Slide a is the only normal CT scan as all of the others have some evidence of sinusitis. Any sinus infection is bound to cause problems with PND, congestion, and even sneezing–allergy can be involved, but many patients with chronic sinusitis have no allergy on skin testing. Asthma during the winter is often exacerbated by sinus infections just like the ones shown below.

What to do with this conundrum?

  1. Take your regular medications as prescribed by your doctor–do not stop using your inhaled corticosteroids just because the seasons change.
  2. It may even be beneficial to increase your dose of inhaled corticosteroids to 2 puffs 4 times a day when you are ill
  3. Always use a spacer device for your asthma
  4. Be open to “nonallergic” trigger for your nasal congestion sneezing, coughing. It is not unusual for patients to have both allergy and sinus infection for instance.
  5. Treating sinus infections may require oral corticosteroids and antibiotics for up to 1 month at a time. 10 days just won’t do it with chronic sinusitis
  6. Take your regular medications as prescribed by your doctor–do not stop using your inhaled corticosteroids just because the seasons change.
  7. It may even be beneficial to increase your dose of inhaled corticosteroids to 2 puffs 4 times a day when you are ill
  8. Always use a spacer device for your asthma
  9. Be open to “nonallergic” trigger for your nasal congestion sneezing, coughing. It is not unusual for patients to have both allergy and sinus infection for instance.
  10. Treating sinus infections may require oral corticosteroids and antibiotics for up to 1 month at a time. 10 days just won’t do it with chronic sinusitis

#allergies, #allergy, #respiratory-disorders