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Month: December 2015

Winter Allergies

As we approach the Winter season, many allergy sufferers in the Washington, DC metropolitan area either notice allergy symptoms or still continue to have symptoms that they have had throughout the year. Manassas and Centreville allergists, see these individuals with hay fever (allergic rhinitis) and/or asthma symptoms. In the Winter, allergies are typically caused by dust mites, molds, pet dander, cockroaches, and/or rodents. The dust mites, molds, and pets, however, are the most common allergens that cause the allergy suffering during the winter.

The most common symptoms that allergic individuals experience during the winter include: sneezing, runny nose, nasal congestion, post-nasal drip, decreased sense of taste and/or smell, itchy eyes, watery eyes, redness of the eyes, clogged ears, sinus pressure and/or headaches, chest congestion, wheezing, shortness of breath, coughing, chest tightness, and fatigue. If allergies are untreated, they may cause individuals to develop sinus infections. In addition to allergies during the Winter, many upper respiratory viruses including influenza (i.e., flu) can mimic the symptoms of allergies. These viruses also infect many people who already have winter allergies, which causes the person to have even more “allergy symptoms,” although some of the manifestations are actually due to the viral infection rather than the allergen. In the end, from the patient’s perspective, they just feel awful. Board certified Centreville allergists and Manassas allergists are trained to recognize the difference between viral and allergic conditions. The board certified allergists at Black & Kletz Allergy diagnose and treat both adults and children with allergies and asthma.

Asthma in the Centreville and Manassas area is similar to that of asthma in the greater Washington, DC area. During the late Fall and Winter months when the temperature becomes colder, many asthmatics have an increase in their asthma symptoms. These symptoms usually include wheezing, chest tightness, shortness of breath, and/or coughing. Each individual asthmatic patient may have different triggers when it comes to aggravating their asthma symptoms. The cold air, the change in temperature, molds, and dust seem to be the most common factors that cause exacerbations of asthma during the Winter months. It is therefore important for patients to understand their triggers and to use medications and/or allergy shots (i.e., allergy immunotherapy) to help prevent asthma exacerbations. The allergy doctors of Black & Kletz Allergy have had over 50 years of experience in the Centreville, VA and Manassas, VA area in the diagnosis and management of asthma. Since asthma can be a very serious disease, individuals with the symptoms of asthma should seek the advice of a board certified allergist.

In addition to allergic rhinitis, asthma, and upper respiratory tract infections, the Winter’s cold temperatures in the Centreville and Manassas area can cause hives (urticaria)generalized itching (pruritus), and/or swelling episodes (angioedema) in a select group of people. The conditions are called cold-induced urticarial, cold-induced pruritus, and cold-induced angioedema respectively. In fact, a small percentage of individuals can even develop life-threatening anaphylaxis when exposed to the cold. This condition is called cold-induced anaphylaxis. Such individuals should carry a self-injectable epinephrine device (e.g., EpiPen, Auvi-Q) to be used if anaphylactic symptoms occur. They should also always go to the nearest emergency room after using a self-injectable epinephrine device as the device may only works for about 15-20 minutes.

If you suffer from any of the symptoms listed above, please feel free to call Black & Kletz Allergy of the Centreville and Manassas area or alternatively, you can click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours on the next business day. We have offices in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA. All of our 3 office locations have on-site parking and the Washington, DC and McLean offices are Metro accessible. There is a free shuttle that brings patients back and forth between our McLean office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line. Black & Kletz Allergy takes pride in providing high quality health care to the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area.

Holidays and Allergies

For many people with a history of allergies and asthma, a few precautions during the holiday season will ensure full enjoyment of the festivities.

  1. Food allergies:  There is usually some increase in the incidence of emergency room visits due to adverse reactions from foods during December and January.  While attending parties, a thorough reading of the labels of all foods consumed reduces the risk of allergic reactions.  For home-made dishes, the preparer should be made aware of the known allergies of all the attendees beforehand.
  2. Though the Christmas trees themselves are unlikely to be responsible for allergic reactions, they can carry different type of irritants and molds indoors.  Exposure to mold spores in sensitive individuals can trigger acute allergic reactions resulting in ocular, nasal, and sinus related symptoms.  Thorough shaking and cleaning of the trees before they are brought inside can help reduce the exposure.  In addition, many live trees have a strong pine-like scent that can act as an irritant to certain individuals.  Alternatively, one can use an artificial tree instead of a live tree.
  3. Artificial trees, ornaments, and other decorations stored in damp basements or attics can also gather dust and molds and trigger allergic reactions.  Storing these in dry and air tight containers will reduce the risks.
  4. Strong odors from incense, potpourri, plugged in room fresheners, cleaning chemicals etc. are known irritants for many sensitized people.  Smoke from burning candles and/or a fireplace is very deleterious for asthmatic individuals.
  5. A seasonal increase in the prevalence of certain viruses and bacteria, coupled with overcrowding in closed spaces during holiday gatherings, are responsible for an increase in respiratory infections, which can aggravate asthma and may precipitate an acute attack.  Frequent hand washing, avoidance of contact with “sick” people, and vaccinations against communicable diseases can help prevent infections.
  6. While travelling, please always remember to pack your regular medications.  Do not forget to pack rescue inhalers and self-injectable epinephrine devices (e.g., EpiPen, Auvi-Q).

The board certified allergists and staff and Black & Kletz Allergy are always available to answer your questions and address your concerns.  We have 3 offices in the Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland metropolitan area.  Our office locations are in Washington, DC, McLean, VA (Tysons Corner, VA), and Manassas, VA.  All 3 offices have on-site parking and the Washington, DC and McLean, VA offices are Metro accessible.  Our McLean office has a free shuttle between our office and the Spring Hill metro station on the silver line.  If you would like an allergy consultation with us, please feel free to call us or alternatively, you can click Request an Appointment and we will respond within 24 hours on the next business day.  We treat both adults and children and have been serving the greater Washington, DC area for over 5 decades.