When spring rolls around, many doctors brace for an influx of patients with sniffles and sneezes. That’s because not only can spring be a time of heightened cold and flu activity, but also a time of increased pollen levels and seasonal allergy symptoms that affect a large number of people.
Many patients are not aware that they have allergies and may write off common allergy symptoms as cold or sinus infection symptoms. Here are some indicators that may warrant a visit to an allergist.
Cold/Infection symptoms vs. allergy symptoms
While both allergies and colds can cause a runny nose, itchy throat, coughing and sneezing, there are some differences between the two.
Symptoms that usually indicate a cold/infection:
- Body aches/chills
- Sore throat
Symptoms that usually indicate allergies:
- Itchy, watery eyes, nose, and sinuses
- Nasal congestion
- Post nasal drip
If most of your symptoms fall under the allergies category, you may want to consider visiting an allergist.
“Another indicator that you may have allergies and not a cold is the duration of symptoms. If your symptoms have lasted longer than several weeks, allergies may be to blame,” said Dr. Aishah Ali, an allergy and immunology specialist.
What to expect
During your first appointment, your allergist will look at your symptom history, your overall health and ask about symptoms you’ve experienced in the past that may have been caused by allergies.
If appropriate, he or she might recommend an allergy test for some of the most common triggers, such as pollen (trees, grass, weeds), dust mites, pet dander and mold.
If you test positive for allergies, your doctor will set up a personalized treatment plan to tackle your symptoms. Common treatment methods include medications, allergen avoidance and immunotherapy (allergy shots).
If you think you may have allergies, visit an allergist to learn how to best control your symptoms.
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