Thank you to CVS MinuteClinic for sponsoring this post. Opinions are my own.
Achoo! If you’re anything like me, the change of seasons has your eyes watering and nose itching. With Flu season approaching and the kids back in school, it can be hard to know if your symptoms are from a common cold, the Flu, or seasonal allergies. I have had had pretty severe outdoor allergies for most of my life, so I can recognize the symptoms pretty quickly…but for those new to the allergy game CVS MinuteClinic has provided me with some info to share so that everyone can make it through this season feeling their best.
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.
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.
Treatment and Relief:
How can I protect my family and myself?
Symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and overthe-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.
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.
Hopefully, after reviewing this information, you have a slightly better understanding of what you’re feeling and what to do about it. Remember, the staff at CVS MinuteClinic is happy to help answer all of your questions when it comes to seasonal allergies as well as most other ailments your family might be experiencing.
To find a MinuteClinic near you visit: http://www.cvs.com/
Disclosure: I was compensated for this post sponsored by CVS MinuteClinic. These are my own, honest opinions. I only recommend products and services to my readers that I feel are trustworthy and that I can stand behind with pride.