The Surprising Ways Season Change Impacts Your Health
September 8, 2017
If you’re an allergy-sufferer, you know that the change of seasons is almost always accompanied by sneezing, headaches, congestion, and general airway discomfort. Sure, there are the obvious reasons why we expect this reaction—increased pollen levels, new plant growth, etc.—but what’s really going on when we experience trouble breathing alongside a tilt in the earth’s axis?
Allergic and Nonallergic Rhinitis
One of the biggest points of confusion among the allergic population is whether or not the symptoms you’re experiencing are a result of allergic rhinitis or nonallergic rhinitis. One reason this is so confusing is that the onslaught of symptoms occur at the same times of year. Every spring we receive hundreds of patients experiencing swollen nasal passages, sneezing, and congestion, but the treatment for patients with nonallergic rhinitis is significantly different from those with allergic rhinitis.
Those with allergic rhinitis are responding to the allergens that the new season has spread all around them. These reactions can be treated with antihistamines—either prescribed by a physician or bought over-the-counter.
Those with nonallergic rhinitis might experience allergy symptoms year-round but often experience them when there’s a change in weather. The symptoms don’t come as a reaction to the allergens produced by the weather, but rather as a reaction to the change in temperature, humidity, or even because of viruses brought on by the season change. Because the reaction has nothing to do with the immune system, antihistamines will not work on nonallergic rhinitis patients. That’s why it’s important to have experienced allergy experts perform testing before seeking treatment.
You may have heard of exercise-induced asthma, but did you know that asthma-sufferers also struggle with finding the perfect temperature for their breathing condition? Cold, dry air causes bronochoconnstriction, and so does hot, humid air. And, just when you’re packing your bags to move to a nice, mild climate, you learn that being in a rainy part of the world is also a threat to your asthma symptoms
To put it simply, asthma-sufferers have a really hard time with the season change.
There’s a certain euphoria that comes with the initial change of the seasons, even if you do know that you’ll be sneezing through the change. People have already started pumpkin-spicing everything and thinking about what they’ll be putting on their Christmas wish lists!
But the shorter, rainier days of fall affect a decrease in your energy levels, an uptick in your unhealthy eating habits, and a loss of Vitamin D. These factors work together to result in what psychologists call seasonal affective disorder which, unchecked, could lead to a weakened immune system and higher allergy and asthma risks for its sufferers.
We know—we just made the coming fall months sounds exhausting! The best thing you can do for your health is to be aware of the symptoms that come with the season change and attack them before they attack you. If you schedule a BreatheAmerica appointment today, we can get started on creating a treatment plan, tailor-made to your symptoms.