1.What is an allergy?
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?
Seasonal allergies are a reaction to small airborne substances. These allergens are small proteins that usually float around in the spring, summer and fall.
3. So, my never-ending cold may actually be allergies?
Yes. A cold will typically clear up pretty quickly, within 7-10 days. Allergies may last weeks or even months!
4. Colds vs. Allergies
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. Here’s what you need to know about the two:
• 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 year after 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 will have 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.
I have allergies all year long. Some seasons are worse than others so I may take one pill in the morning, and one in the evening, or just one per day. I used to not understand the difference between a cold and an allergy, because the symptoms were so similar, but now that I am armed with more knowledge, I know how to treat each, very different, situation.
Flu vs. Allergies
On average, 200,000 in the U.S. get the flu each year. Neither the flu nor allergies are a fun thing to deal with, so it is crucial to be able to differentiate between the two.
• Severe shortness of breath may seem like a symptom for allergies, but it is probably a sign of the flu.
• Ragweed pollen is one of the main fall allergy triggers. Certain foods like bananas, melon and zucchini can also be a trigger for those allergic to ragweed.
• Dust mites are a common allergy that can get stirred into the air when you turn on your heat for the first time in the fall.
• It is common to have a fever for 3-4 days with the flu. Fever is not a side effect of allergies.
• Itchy, watery eyes are a common fall allergy symptom. If you have itchy eyes, it probably is not the flu.
• The color of your mucus may indicate whether or not you have the flu or if its just allergies. Green/yellow mucus can be a sign of a cold or flu. Mucus from allergies should be a clear liquid.
• How quickly did your symptoms arise? You are likely to feel flu symptoms suddenly, when allergy symptoms can worsen within a few days.
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.
We keep a plastic sheet on my son’s bed to protect him from dust mites year round, and for the rest of the house, constant vacuuming and laundry are a necessity.
Treatment and Relief:
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.
I have been to seminars where it has been suggested that we all use nasal saline treatments daily, even as often as we brush our teeth. I need constant reminders to do so.
So, 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.
Living life as we all do, it is not always easy to avoid all allergens, As I previously stated, doing laundry often, covering beds in plastic sheets, and vacuuming all help, but may not be enough. We all have to walk outside, that is where the various forms of pollen and ragweed proliferate! I am thrilled that I can walk into a Minute Clinic and ask questions on what is the best medication to take. And I am still amazed that I can get a prescription from them if need be. Going to the doctor is more time consuming and costs me more, the Minute Clinic makes my life easier!
The 411 on Ragweed
From late summer to early fall, weeds emerge, bloom and release their pollen into the air. Not only is ragweed one of the worst culprits – it’s getting stronger and growing longer across the U.S. Here’s the 411 on this sneaky troublemaker!
• Ragweed is nearly impossible to avoid, so its best to learn how to protect yourself from the symptoms it causes. It is estimated that a single ragweed plant can release 1 billion pollen grains during the fall season.
• Ragweed is a plant of the daisy family. Its green flowers produce abundant amounts of pollen so it is best to learn how to protect yourself from hay fever.
• Ragweed allergy season seems to begin in early August, through mid-October.
• There are 17 different species of ragweed in the U.S.
I live in the middle of a huge city, and I also live in a part of that city where I am surrounded by parks and tress, and grassy areas. That makes me a very lucky Manhattanite. Except for the ragweed!
Minute Clinic has some daily tips to keep healthy and help prevent allergies. Don’t be caught red- eyed; arm yourself and those close to you with these tips to help prevent or reduce seasonal allergy symptoms.
• It’s impossible to keep your kids from coming into contact w/ pollen, but it is possible to get relief – fast! http://bit.ly/1GSqGsG
• In the early fall, keep your windows closed from 10am to 4pm. This will reduce your exposure to allergens like ragweed.
• Fall sniffles and sneezing are most likely NOT a cold. Could it be allergies? http://bit.ly/1DwHBkm
• Clean and change air filters every three months to reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that you come in contact with everyday.
• Avoid window fans! While convenient, they tend to bring in unwanted pollens or mold spores.
• Don’t accessorize w/ itchy red eyes! Visit @MinuteClinic for the allergy relief you need: http://bit.ly/1DwHBkm
• In the fall, we start pulling out cozy quilts when it gets cold. But these can be the home to dust mites, causing your allergies to become enflamed. Wash your bedding every two weeks to help ease allergy symptoms.
It seems that most allergy medications are now over the counter which means I can use coupons, both from the manufacturer, and from CVS! I also learned my lesson, I am no longer a name brand snob, the CVS brand has the same exact ingredients and costs far less. I try to stay well stocked without breaking the budget, CVS helps me to do that!
Disclosure: This is a compensated post on behalf of MinuteClinic. All opinions are always 100% honest and my own.