What causes eye allergies in winter

Allergic rhinitis can lead to complications in some cases.

These include:

  1. nasal polyps – abnormal but non-cancerous (benign) sacs of fluid that grow inside the nasal passages and sinuses
  2. sinusitis – an infection caused by nasal inflammation and swelling that prevents mucus draining from the sinuses
  3. middle ear infections – infection of part of the ear located directly behind the eardrum

These problems can often be treated with medication, although surgery is sometimes needed in severe or long-term cases.

Find out more about the complications of allergic rhinitis



Treatment Options for Winter Allergy Symptoms

To treat allergy symptoms, Jones cautions against older over-the-counter (OTC) medicines, which, he says, can do more harm than good.

«Some of these drugs own too numerous side effects,» he notes, «and people don’t really understand how to match their symptoms to the product.

They just know they feel bad and desire to feel better.»

For example, some OTC allergy drugs contain decongestants, like pseudoephedrine, which can lift a user’s heart rate. The athletic ingredient in the antihistamine Benadryl — diphenhydramine — causes some tissues to dry out and promotes urinary retention, Jones says. «So people with prostate problems, who may own trouble urinating, discover that that condition worsens when they take diphenhydramine.»

Jones says that better options are decongestants that contain loratadine (such as Claritin) and cetirizine (like Zyrtec), two drugs that moved from prescription to OTC status in recent years. Prescription steroid nasal sprays (some of which are also now available over-the-counter) tend to be more effective than antihistamine tablets, adds Rank, though individual responses vary and the two types of drugs are often used in combination.

Talk to your doctor and your pharmacist before taking any over-the-counter medication, to discuss whether it’s appropriate for your symptoms and potential side effects.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology notes that if you own a pet allergy, you might consider immunotherapy ­— allergy shots or tablets — that can potentially desensitize you to the allergen and provide lasting relief.

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The primary types of eye allergy are seasonal or perennial allergic conjunctivitis, vernal keratoconjunctivitis, atopic keratoconjunctivitis, contact allergic conjunctivitis and giant papillary conjunctivitis.

Seasonal and perennial allergic conjunctivitis

Seasonal allergic conjunctivitis (SAC) is by far the most common type of eye allergy. Patients experience symptoms in spring, summer or drop, depending on the type of plant pollens in the air.

Typical symptoms include:

  1. Itching
  2. Redness
  3. Burning
  4. Clear, watery discharge

People with SAC may own chronic dark circles (known as allergic shiners) under their eyes.

What causes eye allergies in winter

The eyelids may be puffy, and bright lights may be bothersome. SAC symptoms often accompany the runny nose, sneezing and nasal congestion associated with hay fever and other seasonal allergies. The itching may be so bothersome that patients rub their eyes frequently, making symptoms worse and potentially causing infection.

Perennial allergic conjunctivitis (PAC), as its name implies, occurs year-round. Symptoms are the same as with SAC, but tend to be milder.

They are caused by reactions to dust mites, mold, pet dander or other household allergens, rather than pollen.

Atopic keratoconjunctivitis

This type of allergy primarily affects older patients — mostly men with a history of allergic dermatitis.

What causes eye allergies in winter

Symptoms of atopic keratoconjunctivitis can happen year-round and are similar to those of vernal keratoconjunctivitis:

  1. Severe itching
  2. Burning
  3. Redness
  4. Significant production of thick mucus that, after sleep, may cause the eyelids to stick together

If left untreated, atopic keratoconjunctivitis can result in scarring of the cornea and its delicate membrane.

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis

Vernal keratoconjunctivitis is a more serious eye allergy than SAC or PAC.

While it can happen year-round, symptoms may worsen seasonally. It primarily occurs in boys and young men; about 75 percent of patients also own eczema or asthma.

What causes eye allergies in winter

Symptoms include:

  1. Itching
  2. Significant tearing and production of thick mucus
  3. The feeling of having something in the eye (foreign body sensation)
  4. Aversion to light (photophobia)

If left untreated, vernal keratoconjunctivitis can impair vision.

Contact allergic conjunctivitis

This can result from irritation by contact lenses or by the proteins from tears that bind to the surface of the lens. Symptoms include:

  1. Redness
  2. Itching
  3. Mucous discharge
  4. Lens discomfort

Giant papillary conjunctivitis

Associated with wearing contact lenses, giant papillary conjunctivitis is a severe form of contact allergic conjunctivitis in which individual fluid sacs, or papules, form in the upper lining of the inner eyelid.

Symptoms include:

  1. Itching
  2. Tearing
  3. Puffiness
  4. Blurred vision
  5. Mucous discharge
  6. Poor tolerance for wearing contact lenses
  7. Foreign body sensation

Allergic rhinitis is inflammation of the inside of the nose caused by an allergen, such as pollen, dust, mould or flakes of skin from certain animals.

It’s a extremely common condition, estimated to affect around 1 in every 5 people in the UK.


Treating and preventing allergic rhinitis

It’s hard to completely avoid potential allergens, but you can take steps to reduce exposure to a specific allergen you know or suspect is triggering your allergic rhinitis.

This will assist improve your symptoms.

If your condition is mild, you can also assist reduce the symptoms by taking over-the-counter medications, such as non-sedating antihistamines, and by regularly rinsing your nasal passages with a salt water solution to hold your nose free of irritants.

See a GP for advice if you own tried taking these steps and they own not helped.

They may prescribe a stronger medication, such as a nasal spray containing corticosteroids.


When to see a GP

Visit a GP if the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are disrupting your sleep, preventing you carrying out everyday activities, or adversely affecting your performance at work or school.

A diagnosis of allergic rhinitis will generally be based on your symptoms and any possible triggers you may own noticed.

If the cause of your condition is uncertain, you may be referred for allergy testing.

Find out more about diagnosing allergic rhinitis


Symptoms of allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis typically causes cold-like symptoms, such as sneezing, itchiness and a blocked or runny nose.

What causes eye allergies in winter

These symptoms usually start soon after being exposed to an allergen.

Some people only get allergic rhinitis for a few months at a time because they’re sensitive to seasonal allergens, such as tree or grass pollen. Other people get allergic rhinitis every year round.

Most people with allergic rhinitis own mild symptoms that can be easily and effectively treated.

What causes eye allergies in winter

But for some people symptoms can be severe and persistent, causing sleep problems and interfering with everyday life.

The symptoms of allergic rhinitis occasionally improve with time, but this can take numerous years and it’s unlikely that the condition will vanish completely.


What causes allergic rhinitis

Allergic rhinitis is caused by the immune system reacting to an allergen as if it were harmful.

This results in cells releasing a number of chemicals that cause the inside layer of your nose (the mucous membrane) to become swollen and too much mucus to be produced.

Common allergens that cause allergic rhinitis include pollen (this type of allergic rhinitis is known as hay fever), as well as mould spores, home dust mites, and flakes of skin or droplets of urine or saliva from certain animals.

Find out more about the causes of allergic rhinitis


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