Winter allergies - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Winter allergies

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Lindsay Mattingly was never an allergy sufferer until three years ago - and when it hit her, it hit hard.

Lindsay Mattingly, allergy patient, "Stuffy nose, congested sinuses, post-nasal drip was the first sign. I'd get a sore throat and then it would settle down in my chest, I'd get a cough and it would last anywhere from two to three weeks."

Those symptoms first arrived in the colder months making her think it was a cold or winter funk that goes around each year.

But Imperial Health physician Bridget Loehn says the duration of the symptoms can separate a cold from an allergy.

Dr. Bridget Loehn, Ear, Nose and Throat doctor, "If you're having a cold, normally in about seven to ten days those symptoms should be improving or resolving. If it's more due to an allergy, those symptoms tend to linger on a little bit longer for weeks or even months."

So what's to blame when pollenating plants aren't blooming?

Doctor Loehn says you don't have to look any further than your home. "A lot of patients coming in with allergies to dust mites, molds, pet dander."

Heaters can blow around those allergens and cold weather can keep sufferers inside for longer amounts of time - exposing them to what makes them sick and slowing them down for an entire season.

Lindsay Mattingly, "I was spending probably 70 dollars extra a month on over the counter medicines that weren't doing any good. I sing in church, I wasn't able to do that. Couldn't sleep well, headache all the time. I was having to take off of work a lot, too."

The first line of defense is an antihistamine and decongestant.

But if that doesn't work, allergy testing can zone in on your specific allergy and shots will be given to build up a resistance.

Dr. Bridget Loehn,"The purpose of the immunotherapy is to build up the patient's immune system against these allergens to where they won't have a severe response."

Lindsay has been getting allergy shots once a week for ten months and has only been sick once since that treatment started.

Lindsay Mattingly, "Just so much better to feel good."

There are some steps you can take to reduce your risk of winter allergens in your home.  

You can use a HEPA air filter to clean the dust and bugs from the air.

Also, have your vents cleaned at least once a year and throw out any shower curtains, wallpaper, or carpeting that contains mold.
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