Disclosure: Special thanks to CVS and Minute Clinic for sponsoring this post.
Fall is in the air and so are seasonal allergies.For the millions of people who have seasonal allergies, fall means sneezing, congestion and runny noses. Did you know that 35 million Americans suffer from allergies and don’t even know it? That’s because many people confuse the symptoms of fall allergies with a common cold. Let's clear the air with 7 common questions and answers on seasonal allergies.
1. What are allergies?
An allergy is the body's hypersensitivity to substances in the environment. Mold, dust, pollen, pet dander, and even some foods can cause allergic reactions.
2. What causes seasonal allergies?
3. What is the difference between spring and fall allergies?
• It’s important to note that the symptoms for all allergies are the same, regardless of
whether they present themselves in the spring or fall. Itchy eyes, sneezing, runny
nose, headache, sinus pressure are general allergy symptoms.
• There are more allergy triggers in the fall. Typically, weed pollens, like ragweed and
mold allergies are those that flare up come fall.
• Outdoor allergens like tree pollens are likely to cause your spring allergies.
• Dust mites are a common allergen in the fall. When you start to close up your house
when the weather gets cooler, old blankets and quilts could be hosting dust mites
that can be an irritant.
4. So fall colds may actually be allergies?
Yes. A cold will typically clear up pretty quickly, within 7-10 days. Allergies may last weeks or even months!
5. How can you tell the difference between Colds vs. Allergies
The main difference between a cold and allergies is that a cold is caused by a viral infection while allergy symptoms are caused by your body’s own immune system’s attempt to fight off an allergen. If you start sniffling and coughing at the same time each year and your symptoms come on suddenly, it may be allergies. If you have a cough, it’s probably a cold. Most people with a cold will have a cough, but not everyone with allergies has this symptom. If you’re aching all over, it’s probably a cold, not allergies. Aches and pains are not symptoms of allergies. Itchy eyes are a common symptom of allergies but RARELY occur with the common cold! If you have a fever, it’s not allergies! A fever is sometimes present with a cold, but will never occur with allergies.
6. How can I protect my family and myself?
Symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines may help relieve symptoms as well.
7. How do I get allergy relief?
There are plenty of options! At MinuteClinic, our nurse practitioners and physicians assistants can recommend the right over-the-counter medications and write prescriptions when medically appropriate. If you’re diagnosed with allergies, medication may help relieve your symptoms. The best way to treat allergies is to avoid the allergen – whatever it may be.
Finally, here are some helpful tips to help you deal with seasonal allergies:
- It's impossible to keep your kids from coming into contact w/ pollen, but it is possible to get relief - fast!
- Shake it off! Before coming inside, rid your clothes of pollen with a good shake.
- Spring sniffles and sneezing are most likely NOT a cold. Could it be allergies?
- Did you know hair gel could be a pollen magnet? Skip the sticky stuff during allergy season for a little extra relief.
- Avoid window fans! While convenient, they tend to bring in unwanted pollens or mold spores.
- Don't accessorize w/ itchy red eyes!
- Pull out the shades! Sunglasses protect your eyes from pollen, while keeping you looking stylish at the same time.
- Fall asleep on clean sheets. Wash your bedding every two weeks to help ease allergy symptoms.