Winter rhinitis and non-allergic asthma? - Asthma Community ...

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Winter rhinitis and non-allergic asthma?

Lysistrata profile image

I have non-allergic, very difficult asthma but also, somehow, hayfever. Apparently this is possible (ie atopy but non-allergic asthma), if weird! I take fexofenadine 180mg and Avamys nasal spray for it and usually don't need it in the winter.

However, this winter I found I still need both - I stopped in the autumn but got sniffly, then stopped again and restarted on the advice of the Asthma UK nurse who commented that I sounded a bit nasal. I also restarted montelukast, mainly as a desperate attempt for the asthma because I don't have the right sort for biologicals and I'm on everything else, but also the Asthma UK nurse thought it might help with any nasal issues.

Now I'm finding I'm frequently sniffly and sneezing even WITH both! I obviously thought oh it's a cold at first, as in the summer it *was* that (chest infection then cold, trust me to get it backwards...). But this time it's been a few weeks or more at the sniffling, sneezing stage, and not making things any worse than usual asthma-wise (hard to tell because frankly the lungs are always at some level of crap, but colds usually land me in hospital and whatever this is has not so far done that. Please don't get any ideas, lungs. This is really not an invitation!)

Has anyone else had this in the winter despite the antihistamines/sprays? I have never been one for sinus issues and it's not painful, just annoying, and I don't want it to make the asthma any more of a pain. I get it at work and home and elsewhere so I'm unsure of the trigger.

22 Replies

It’s really weird that you say this because for a few weeks I’ve been feeling like I have hayfever even though I’ve never had hayfever in the winter. At first I thought it must be allergies but like you it’s all the time, everywhere, so can’t be a fixed thing (like mildew) causing it. I even have itchy eyes like when I have hayfever. Fortunately I still have some antihistamines left from the summer. It’s really weird and I don’t understand what can be causing it. Sorry, I’ve just noticed my excessive use of the word ‘weird’ but it’s really strange (I almost said weird again 🙄) and I thought it was just me. In many ways I’m reassured to know it isn’t just me but it is disconcerting and bizarre (I may have to resort to my thesaurus to find more alternative words to weird!)

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to HungryHufflepuff

I feel like this is a very appropriate moment for this meme: ;)

So not just me then! Wonder what it is? I was thinking about calling the AUK nurses this week to see if they have any ideas. I keep telling people that Dymista is meant to be good but I don't actually have it - maybe now is the time to ask.

EmmaF91 profile image
EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to Lysistrata

I’m the same this year. Usually I can back off my avamys and reduce my fexofenadine dose to 120mg in the winter but not this year. Have tried dymista to no real change. I’m just really snotty and sneezy, and my sinuses are having a party (my weak spot 🙄).

Asthma seems to be behaving - mildly twitchy will the cold weather and I’m starting to think I need to restart uniphyllin to calm it down and get back to maintenance levels of pred 😒.

I’ve also had an itchy/watery eye but not sure what’s causing it (other than possibly the mepo 😅)

Maybe it’s something in the air 🤷‍♀️. It’s strange that there are a few of us with these symptoms!

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to EmmaF91

Yes I thought it was just me! Did your lungs manage to pull themselves back from when you were wondering whether to contact anyone? Glad it's mostly behaving! Mine are doing what passes for good behaviour atm ie they let me go out and do stuff, and the numbers are a bit less crap than they were. I see we are due for a weather change though ugh. I've never been one for the sinus issues thankfully - my family seems to have divided it so they all got sinus problems and I got lung problems.

I'm also getting a burning feeling in my chest - I'm sure someone will suggest reflux and I'm open to the possibility, but it seems entirely uncorrelated with eating and much more correlated with cold air exposure (as in really quite noticeably even when it's not that freezing). Also happening a bit less with somewhat less misbehaving lungs (but no change in food habits). Wonder if that is related to the weird nasal things? As I mentioned on another post, my previous (good) cons did tell me the drippy nose can do nasty things in the airways!

EmmaF91 profile image
EmmaF91Community Ambassador in reply to Lysistrata

Nope lungs are still umming and ahhing, but only squeaking a little bit (PF currently at the grand heights of 370ish post meds and vent 🙄). I’m generally just feeling tired, tight and meh about doing anything so I am playing ostrich 🤫. I upped my pred and am currently trying to reduce but think I may actually need the theophylline again if I want to be comfortable but not on 30+ pred 😒.

I don’t have time to waste at the GP cause moving into my new flat tomorrow (🎉🥳🎉)(3 1/2 hours away tho 😓), and going to start work on Wednesday (so long as this move goes better than my last few with my lungs🤞🏻). I’m at the level where there’s nothing obviously wrong, but deep down I know there is, meaning I feel like crap but no one else can see it... just realise I’ve ‘lost’ my strong and deep cough too and have my pathetic high pitch one back- never a good sign... oops 😅.

Roll on organising a new GP (again) plus finding my new resp hosp and getting to know my local(ish) hosp in the new year!

Yay for your lungs! - I’m sure Santa will take them off the naughty list and put them on the nice list if they keep it up ☺️. I too am dreading the weather 😬🥶.

Hmmm - weird burning sensation in the chest 🤔 - the only time I ever had that was with either an infection, reflux or very cold weather... hope you figure out what it is!

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to EmmaF91

Good luck with the move and all the fun stuff that goes with it! Moves are hard on the lungs - hope you have some help. I do remember moving on a Sunday, starting my new job on a Monday, and calling in sick from the A&E of my local on the Thursday...way to introduce yourself! Had a bigger gap next time I was silly enough to try the moving/new job combo (plus much better removal men who didn't try to make me do it all) so while lungs were unhappy they didn't go nuts. I think currently the only list they are on is Satan's lol - I catch myself thinking how great it is that I have FEV1 in the 40%s...

Exciting times for you though with job and flat! Crossed fingers they behave, and that the new resp/local hospital is good if not. I hate that feeling when you know things are up but that it won't show - waiting till you're worse and feel justified to do something is so annoying. Though 370 for you post meds not ideal...

I’ve lived with non seasonal allergic rhinitis all my life - it’s not pleasant and yes, it can be very difficult to distinguish it from a cold.

However, when I was peri menopausal I noticed a shift in it: suddenly I started to get extremely itchy eyes. Now yes, my eyes have always had a tendency to itch when my rhinitis is flaring - it’s often the only way I can tell my sniffles are down to that and not a virus, but this was a lot worse, it was happening on most days. To add to the problem my eyes reacted to eyedrops to help with it if they had to be taken on a regular basis. I ended up on eyedrops that could be taken on an as and when needed basis only. It went on for five/six years and then began to calm down, eventually subsiding to what I considered more normal, and that was just about at the time I entered the final menopause stage. So in my case it seems very likely it was triggered by hormonal swings.

Though smaller scale than either of you two, Emma and Lysistrata, I can also have these strange and uncomfortable allergic episodes. Once in my life, a long time ago, I had angioedema, never knew why. And I have had long periods suffering mildly, but annoyingly, with urticaria. That seems now to have gone to be replaced with asthma? I don’t have hay fever, except I have had one or two hay fever like episodes when there has been loads of pollen. My biggie has been itchy eyes, to cats. It was generally only after I touched one, but then one, never both, eye would itch to the point of blistering on the white of my eye. We haven’t had cats for years (all three died from old age), but occasionally I still get itchy eye, still only one at the time, no idea why. Sneezing? I get sneezy episodes (not so good when I am driving) and it lasts for say ten minutes or so............then just goes. I get stuffy overnight, quite often, but not always. And so on. So, I am certainly not severely allergic, but can have some quite stand alone, more or less, episodes. If my itchy eye perseveres it would eventually lead to sniffles and possibly to my chest as well.

Yes me too. Thought it was a cold but no just constant drip ,itch eyes,nose and sneeze.Take antihistamines and seems to stop it .

Lysistrata profile image

I'm not alone then! Thanks for all the replies. The annoying thing is that I am already on 180mg fexofenadine and Avamys and STILL have issues grrr. Might try the asthma nurses- I will report back.

Mogget profile image
Mogget in reply to Lysistrata

Sorry to hear of your troubles! My consultant recently increased my 120mg fexo to 3x a day so that could also be something to explore? He's also recommended in writing to my GP that I try Dymista.

It is believed that my late onset asthma was caused by having 50 years of hayfever. The asthma was diagnosed after I complained of incessant winter colds, but I found these improved if I took a dose of Beconase at night in winter, rather than twice a day in summer for hayfever - no one understands why this works, but what's the harm?

Lysistrata profile image

Spoke to a lovely helpful asthma nurse over lunch. She said to check my technique for Avamys and also to get a saline rinse to ensure my nose is as clear as possible before using. She also recommended speaking to my GP about maybe increasing the Avamys dose and/or looking at other options. I have bought the rinse and will try these before seeing GP.

I asked about Dymista and she said worth asking but GPs may be reluctant to prescribe due to cost.

For years and years I had inexplicable rhinitis as well as non allergic late onset asthma. Eventually when my sense of smell and taste disappeared as well as an increase in my sneezing got too much for me I asked to be referred to a specialist. The diagnosis was nasal polyps. A course of flixonase drops cleared them up in no time leaving me wondering why I had put up with it for so long. The specialist also put me on daily avamys nasal spray. Occasionally the polyps return but a further short course of flixonase sees them off for another year to 18 months. Life is so much better without the regular attacks of debilitating hayfever symptoms.

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to Taztarr

Glad you found a solution! Interesting to hear of another non-allergic asthmstic with nose problems. I am currently on the flixonase spray so clearly not the magic solution here, but maybe an increase in it will help.

RD23 profile image
RD23 in reply to Lysistrata

I have allergic rhinitis but have been suffering since the summer with my sinuses, almost like I need a punch in the nose to have a good nose bleed to clear it 😂 I’m not recommending this as a treatment! The spray that cleans your nasal passages has worked really well for me as I got the same advice from the helpline. I also try steam with Olbas oil in it and then the whole street can breathe! 😂 all sort of the neighbourly service!

Lysistrata profile image
LysistrataAdministrator in reply to RD23

The saline does seem to be helping already so may not need that GP appt!

Another one of those times asthmatics are weird and different- my lungs hate steam and hate eucalyptus more so this is sadly not an option. (I once had an argument with a GP who decided this was just me being difficult, but then she was adamant my brewing severe attack was just a cold, so it wouldn't have done much even if I could tolerate it).

RD23 profile image
RD23 in reply to Lysistrata

Guh, that sucks! Maybe mine have learnt to tolerate after years of snuffle babe when I was little 😂

Glad the saline is working for you. If I think of anything else I’ll let you know xxx

Oh I wish I could get rid of the post nasal drip!

RD23 profile image
RD23 in reply to

My specialist has put me on mucodyne tablets following a chest infection and now I’m on them permanently and they really help with the nasal drip. They thin the mucus to make it easier to get rid of but when I ran out, I noticed my nasal drip was a lot worse, might be worth an ask.

Hi! Yes! I have had terribly seasonal rhinitis this autumn - a severe post-nasal drip finally then exacerbating my (atopic and nonatopic) asthma, I guess the tickle causing a cough that then provokes mucus production down below as well in a vicious cycle. I have desperately been trying to further allergy proof the house (thinking dust mites must be worse) but from everybody's replies above, it may be that there are more environmental factors at play this year for some reason and which are causing a rhinitis increase generally. I am wondering therefore if whether the warm autumn, and winter, have meant there hasn't been a big freeze of all the nasties, moulds and spores et al, and there's been quite a dampness to the air in the sog and fog of late Nov/ Dec.

I use the Neils Medirinse nasal rinse morning and night and think it's fantastic for cleaning all the gunge out, but at the moment it's proving quite insufficient to keeping it clear for most of the day, there is so much mucus being generated by by nose at the moment - I am literally drowning in it!

Thanks for all the ideas, I will have a conversation with the doctor about increasing my antihistamine if at all possible. I'm on a course of steroids now for the asthma and whilst I am seeing perhaps some better control with that, they're not helping the rhinitis a bit, and I probably need to get it under better control to get the asthma back under control. Dymista has a very temporary efficacy, and causes more nose irritation than it helps probably, so am currently increasing the saline rinses to 3 a day, but then wonder if the amount of rinse left sloshing around the sinuses then adds to to the post nasal drip by increasing the volume of drip. Anybody else using the saline rinse have any thoughts on this?

I have had year round “hay fever” for decades. Recently I stared to use a nasal rinse and it does help! Hurrah! I take fex at the mo, all year round plus a steroid nasal spray. Adding in the nasal rinse has made a difference. Got mine from Amazon. 👍

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