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Your Healthy Family: Is it a cold or seasonal allergies?

Posted: 9:52 AM, Sep 04, 2018
Updated: 2019-07-09 11:27:44-04

COLORADO SPRINGS – Labor Day marks the start of fall allergy season in some parts of the country – and ragweed, mold, and other weeds are the main culprits.

But sometimes it’s hard for people to tell if they’re suffering from a cold or allergies this time of year.

Cleveland Clinic allergist, Sandra Hong, M.D., said itching is a telltale sign that someone is suffering from an allergy.

“One of the major differences is a lot of itching,” she said. “The eyes will be itchy, the nose will be itchy, the ears will be itchy, but they’ll also have the stuffiness; the drippy nose; the drainage down the back of their throat and sneezing in addition to it.”

Dr. Hong said a cold will typically run its course in about two weeks, so if symptoms last longer than that, it’s likely allergies.

Seasonal allergies aren’t random and will pop up around the same time year after year.

Dr. Hong recommends taking allergy medications prior to the start of allergy season to keep symptoms under control.

Avoiding pollen by closing windows and turning on air conditioning can bring relief too.

According to Dr. Hong, it’s best to avoid drying laundry outdoors because pollen can collect on clothing and end up indoors.

Pets can also collect pollen on their fur, so it’s a good idea to wipe them down when they come indoors, especially if they sleep in someone’s bed.

Taking a shower to wash pollen out of hair and off the body before bed is a good idea too.

Another non-medicated way to find relief is to rinse the sinuses.

“That can actually wash the pollens out,” said Dr. Hong. “I’d encourage not right before bed, so you don’t get a lot of drainage down the back of your throat, but that can definitely be a non medication form (of relief).”

Here in southern Colorado like in many places the traditional dates on the calendar for seasonal allergies is shifting Dr. Daniel Soteres and his colleagues at Asthma and Allergy Associates track pollen counts at their office near downtown Colorado Springs.

Dr. Soteres explains, “With the climate change that’s going on we have seen the spring pollens starting sooner and lasting longer.  So we say an earlier onset of the pollen season and now in the fall we’re seeing longer lasting pollen seasons as well. Studies have been done that show in cities all over the world as the climate change increases the plants are actually changing.”

Dr. Soteres says last winter was a perfect example of what’s happening.  With no real hard freeze, tree and grass pollens lasted into in January and February and the itchy watery eyes are already underway in the Pikes Peak region.

If allergy symptoms are still causing misery despite over-the-counter and at-home treatments, it’s time to see a medical professional because oftentimes help is available.

Allergy and Asthma Associates PC, and Research Center is a proud sponsor of Your Health Family