Cold or Allergies?

Spring is here and we are all looking forward to longer days and warmer weather. However, this time of year can also bring seasonal allergies for many.

There are two types of allergies, year round and seasonal. Allergy symptoms that last throughout the year are often caused by indoor allergens such as pet dander or dust mites. Seasonal allergies, or allergic rhinitis, occur when the immune system reacts to harmless substances including mold, dust mites, pet dander and pollen. In response, the body releases histamine, which can cause nasal drainage, sneezing, coughing, throat irritation, and itchy watery eyes.

Seasonal allergies are usually related to pollen from weeds, grass and trees. You may also notice that allergy symptoms are worse at certain times of day. Someone allergic to dust may have symptoms when they first wake up in the morning while someone who has a grass allergy may experience symptoms after being outside.

Because the symptoms of allergic rhinitis are similar to the common cold, it can sometimes be difficult to determine what is causing symptoms.


Questions to Consider:

  • Length of symptoms. The common cold typically resolves within 2 weeks. If symptoms last longer than this, it may be time to look at allergies as a possible cause.
  • Do you have a fever? Allergies do not cause a fever, so if your symptoms are accompanied by an elevated temperature, it is safe to believe you have virus.
  • Do you have eye symptoms? Allergy symptoms usually include itchy, watery and irritated eyes, while the common cold does not.

 


To diagnose allergies, your provider may order allergy testing through a blood or skin test. Many medications and lifestyle modifications can help control allergy symptoms. See your healthcare provider if you suspect allergies or have any questions or concerns about your symptoms or condition.

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