My concerns started three years ago, when I was 22-23 years old (I'm 26 now). As the season changes from summer to fall, I began to experience sinus issues, which turn into repeated week-long (sometimes more) illnesses. At least one week each month in fall and winter, I am sick. In spring and summer, my symptoms disappear. Typically, there are a few really bad days, then a gradual lessening of symptoms as the illness progresses. The illnesses begin with a scratchy feeling in my throat, congested sinuses (thick, excessive mucous that is typically clear but sometimes also white, slightly yellowish, and with some tiny black pieces), congested cough, sinus pressure, foggy feeling, tiredness, and often a dull, aching headache. Once in a while I’ll have some sneezing but not typically.
(Quick background: Prior to this, I had one instance when I was 18 years old and my face swelled up like an allergic reaction. I was subsequently tested for allergies but told I had none. I was also told that facial swelling is typically indicative of a food allergy. I also had an allergic reaction to sulfa antibiotics (hives). Other than this, I had no issues with allergies or allergic reactions.)
The first ENT I went to gave me ordered an allergy test, gave me Nasonex, instructed me to use the neti pot (I purchased a neti pot machine), and gave me albuterol to mix in the neti pot solution. The allergy test was a sort of pressure test that did not puncture the skin. There were cylinder-shaped prongs that ended in a point. The tech just put the allergen on the end of the point and pressed it into my skin. The test showed no allergies. The ENT felt this was sufficient to indicate that no allergies were present. She ordered a CT scan which showed no abnormalities. She then told me to see a neurologist, that this could be a sort of atypical migraine.
Because headache was not my primary concern and, when I do get them along with this illness, they are mild, I opted instead to try another ENT.
He prescribed Dymista and ordered an intradermal allergy test. They inject the solution beneath the skin and continue increasing the amount of the solution until they either reach a certain point or you show an allergic reaction. This test showed that I had mild-moderate allergies to all but three of the allergens, including indoor and outdoor. This was confusing given how much it contradicted the other test, but I assumed they were accurate.
The doctor recommended allergy shots, which I initially agreed to enthusiastically and immediately starting taking antihistamines again, thinking it would help. I also got various allergy-reducing items like non-allergic pillows. However, none of the antihistamines (Kirkland, Claritin, Benadryl) or items I tried seemed to have any affected on my symptoms. I got sick just the same.
The more I thought about it, there were also some things that gave me pause about the allergy results - for example, saying that I have a cat allergy, when I’ve lived with cats my whole life and volunteered caring for 20+ cats at a time year round, without noticing any symptoms. It also told me I was allergic to a number of trees and plants. However, I am always outside hiking in presence of these plants and have never noticed a correlation between being around these plants/trees and my symptoms. In fact, if anything, moving around and fresh air actually seem to help “get my sinuses moving” and clear them out. Also, none of the allergies explains why I would only get these symptoms in the fall and winter. The doctor stated he couldn’t explain that either. Also, purposefully staying indoors more and avoiding nature (which was really hard for me) had no effect - I still got sick the same as when hiking.
So I know this was incredibly long and if you read through it, thank you!
I’m having trouble finding information about allergies that cause fall and winter reactions only. I’m just at a loss, so tired of feeling sick, and hoping someone out there has experienced this or has an idea what could be causing it. Thank you so, so much for any feedback or information you could provide (speculation/ideas are more than welcome, too). Thank you, thank you, thank you!