Spring In the Air and So Is Pollen!
Spring is here! As the world warms up and comes back to life, all that blooming greenery causes a lot of people to suffer from seasonal allergies. Runny noses, itchy skin, red or watery eyes, itchy throats, sneezing and coughing are all common symptoms of seasonal allergies. You may feel like Rudolph, with a swollen, red nose you’re sure everyone can see. Severe cases can lead to asthma attacks or even anaphylaxis.
What causes seasonal allergies?
Your body triggers an allergic reaction when your immune system is exposed to a foreign substance it doesn’t like. Cat dander, bee venom, mold, mildew and pollen are common allergens. Your body sees a threat and triggers antibodies even though those items aren’t actually harmful to you. When those allergies happen at certain time of year, those are called seasonal allergies.
Typically, seasonal allergies happen during pollination. Trees, grass, flowers and other plants release pollen in the air to cause fertilization. If you hear people talk about hay fever or seasonal rhinitis (swelling and irritation of the mucous membrane in your nose), they’re talking about seasonal allergies by another name.
How can you tell seasonal allergies from a cold or the flu?
Many of the symptoms of seasonal allergies are similar to those of a cold, especially the sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes. Here’s how to tell the difference between allergies and other similar illnesses:
- Do you have these symptoms at the same time every year? If you regularly experience the sneezing, runny nose and stuffy nose in the same months, year after year, it’s likely an allergy. The best way to find out is to get tested so you know exactly what’s causing your reaction.
- Are you coughing? It’s likely a cold or the flu. Seasonal allergies may come with a tickle at the back of the throat, but they very rarely involve a cough.
- Do you have a fever? Allergies almost never come with a fever or the associated chills and body aches. If you have a fever, chills and aches, go to the doctor as soon as possible! The anti-viral drugs that fight the flu have to be taken right away.
- What does your mucous look like? We know – this one’s yucky, but it’s also important. Colds and the flu come with thick mucous that can range in color from yellow to off-green. Allergies generally come with thin, almost watery mucous because your body is doing its best to expel what’s bothering you?
- How much are you sneezing? Allergies mean a LOT of sneezing! Again, it’s your body trying to get rid of an irritant by expelling it forcefully from your body. Colds and the flu can definitely include sneezing, but it won’t be a rapid series of sneezes that feel like they won’t stop – you have more time between sneezes.
- Is your throat sore? Occasionally, allergies can make your throat a little sore and scratchy, especially if you’ve got that itchiness at the back of your throat. But a sore throat that feels swollen and like it’s on fire is a sign of something else! It could be the flu, a severe cold, another virus or even strep throat. The only way to be sure is to get all the proper tests as soon as possible. That includes a test for COVID-19!
How can urgent care help with seasonal allergies?
As part of regular physical exams, a quality urgent care clinic should offer you the opportunity to get a full work up of allergy testing. Knowing exactly what you’re allergic to is critical to creating the right plan for treatment.
Most seasonal allergies can be successfully treated with over-the-counter medications, including antihistamines and decongestants. The antihistamines will stop the body’s reaction to the allergen and the decongestants will dry out your rhinitis symptoms, stopping the runny nose and watery eyes. Those may be in the form of pills, eyedrops or nasal sprays, among others. Neti pots and similar devices to wash out the nasal cavity and sinuses are also now popular at-home treatments for season allergies; they use distilled water to flush allergens out of the nose and sinuses. (NOTE: Failure to follow directions exactly can cause infections and illnesses. Ask a medical professional if using a nasal wash of any kind should be an option for you or not.)
But for many people, over the counter treatments are not enough. They may require a prescription-strength version of those medications or even a shot to reduce allergy symptoms. In the case of allergy-induced asthma, a prescription inhaler can be helpful, and that requires a doctor’s visit.
If you suffer from seasonal allergies, don’t suffer! Our team of caring, dedicated professionals will listen to your symptoms, assess your condition and treat your allergies with the right combination of medications and other therapies.
Don’t wait! At Urgent Care 24/7, we are available around the clock to take care of you and your family’s needs in every season, including allergy!