Spring is in full swing and with this time of the year comes the increase in pollen which can contribute to those annoying seasonal allergies. Seasonal allergies often resemble the symptoms of a common cold, so how can you tell if you have seasonal allergies or a cold? Look no further than your nose. Your nose is the best way to determine if you have developed seasonal allergies. When your nose is irritated by allergens, a fairly constant flow of clear and thin mucous is produced, which is known as allergic rhinitis or “hay fever.” It is possible to differentiate between allergic rhinitis and the common cold by how long the sniffles last. While the common cold usually will stay present for about a week to 10 days, allergic rhinitis can span for several weeks or months. Depending on what your seasonal allergies areattributed to affects how long your personal allergy season may last. Aside from a constant runny nose, many people experience additional symptoms. Here is a list of additional symptoms that you may experience with seasonal allergies:
· Temporary loss of smell due to the constant runny nose
· Postnasal drip with coughing
· Frequent sneezing
· Itchy nose and throat
· Itchy, runny and burning eyes
· Runny or stuffy nose
· Dark circles under the eyes caused by increased blood flow to the sinuses (often referred to allergic shiners)
In addition, some people with allergies can develop asthma, which may cause coughing, shortness of breath, and wheezing.
Where you live and what you are allergic to have the greatest influences on when your seasonal allergies will hit. The Southern, Midwestern, and Eastern parts of the United States are affected by pollen from trees such as juniper, elm, maple, and oak in the springtime. Pollination in the summer is due to grasses, such as orchard grass, bluegrass, and timothy, and ragweed can cause seasonal allergy flare ups. Pollen is not the only ingredient that can contribute to seasonal allergies. In all areas of the country, mold spores can be airborne from the spring through late fall.
Personal experience and/or allergy testing can identify what triggers your seasonal allergies. Avoidance of allergy triggers as well as preventive measures will help to decrease those annoying seasonal allergy symptoms and provide for a better quality of life.
Here are some suggestions for dealing with seasonal allergies:
· Try to minimize outdoor activity between 5 a.m. to 10 a.m and on windy and dry days because pollen levels are at their peak
· Shower and wash your hair every night to help rinse off the pollen and mold spores collected during the day
· Clean bed linen frequently
· Place pillows and mattresses in washable covers
· Keep home and car windows closed and use an air conditioner (Remember to change filters often!)
· Bathe outdoor pets often in order to minimize the amount of pollen and mold spores they spread around the house
· Wear a filter mask while gardening or cutting the lawn
· Stay indoors on high pollen count days if possible
If avoidance and preventive measures do not help, visit your primary care physician or an allergy specialist. A wide range of medications are available that can decrease allergy symptoms and increase your enjoyment of the seasons and quality of life.
For more information, or to schedule an appointment, call our physician referral line at 996-WEST or visit us online at www.medicalwesthospital.org.