For the last few weeks in our house, it’s been all about sniffles and coughs. I immediately blamed it on the fact that all three kids started school and were bringing those yucky germs home. But when I went on my 6th week of this cold, I realized that it probably wasn’t a cold, but an allergy! It can be pretty hard to tell the difference between the two but luckily CVS is here to help us distinguish the two!
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.
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.
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!
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 am so glad that I read this because I had been referring to myself as having a cold for weeks, when it was really allergies. Once I started taking allergy medicine daily, my symptoms cleared up and now I can totally enjoy being outside in this gorgeous fall weather!
I also get spring allergies so you would have thought I knew what I was experiencing. There IS a difference in what is causing the two though, as shown below.
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.
How To Treat Allergies
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.
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.
In the early fall, keep your windows closed from 10am to 4pm. This will reduce your exposure to allergens like ragweed.
Clean and change air filters every three months to reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that you come in contact with everyday. Also make sure to avoid window fans! While convenient, they tend to bring in unwanted pollens or mold spores.
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.
Do you suffer from fall allergies? How do you treat them?
Disclosure: I have received compensation for this post but all thoughts and opinions are my own.