Spring is here and so are pollen, dust, mold and other environmental irritants that can trigger seasonal allergies. This time of the year, you may experience a runny nose, sneezing, itchy throat or even a persistent cough and you may be asking yourself, “Is it allergies or is it a cold?”. Below, we’re uncovering the different types of allergies, the symptoms and what to do if you feel like you may be experiencing a cold or even a sinus infection. Of course, if you’re not sure, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Stop in for an appointment at any time.
Nasal Allergies and Their Symptoms
Nasal allergies are the most common type of allergies. Symptoms typically include:
- Nasal congestion
- Clear runny nose
- Itchy nose
- Itchy throat and post-nasal drip
- Excessive sneezing
- Dark circles under the eyes
- Persistent cough, often rattling
If your allergy symptoms are mild, no treatment may be necessary. If you feel like they’re not keeping you from doing everyday tasks, you can wait it out and see if the symptoms pass. However, if they persist and cause some disruption, you can try a nasal saline spray. Just a few pumps of the saline spray into your nose several times a day will help flush out the allergens.
If symptoms continue, a non-prescription nasal decongestant or an antihistamine medication may be needed.
- Over-the-counter antihistamine – These medications treat itchy, sneezy, runny nose, itchy watery eyes and itchy throat. They can also help with congestion. Antihistamines are available in liquid, chewables and pills and are generally safe for children 6 months or older.
- Decongestants – Decongestants don’t actually fight the effects of allergies, but can help with nasal congestion. You can buy over-the-counter decongestants on their own or together with an antihistamine, and over-the-counter options are almost the same as prescription ones.
- Cromolyn Nasal Spray – Nasal sprays typically take one to two weeks to start working, so they should be used daily to get the effectiveness. A cromolyn nasal spray acts like an antihistamine directly in the nose.
After at home treatments are completed and you’re still experiencing issues, give us a call as prescription medications may be needed.
- Prescription antihistamines – These prescriptions last for 12 to 24 hours and act in a similar way as an over-the-counter antihistamine. However, they do cause drowsiness so, if your doctor prescribes them to you, consider taking at nighttime.
- Antihistamine Nasal Spray – The benefit of this type of nasal spray is that it works directly in the nose—which is the area that is most affected with allergies.
- Steroid Nasal Spray – The steroids in this nasal spray stay to the lining of the nose, so it’s not absorbed into the body.
If you think that you may have seasonal allergies due to pollen, there are a few steps you can take to avoid exposure.
- Stay indoors on windy days when pollen counts are high. To get an idea of what the pollen count is, there are resources online.
- Avoid walking through tall grass.
- Keep windows and doors closed in the car and in your home.
- Wash hats and jackets more often during pollen season.
- Bathe and wash your hair before bed to get the pollen out if you’ve been outside for a long period of time.
- Don’t hang-dry your clothes outside, if you can avoid it, as pollen will attach to your clothes.
- Put window units on recirculate to keep out the outside air
Pollen counts are usually the highest during late morning and early afternoon so, if you must be outside, try to avoid those times.
Allergic Conjunctivitis (red eyes)
During allergy season, many people mistake allergic conjunctivitis with pink eye. If your eyes are red with increased tears and a small amount of white drainage and itchy, it is likely just an allergy. Pink eye typically comes with yellow or green drainage that oozes or crusts in the eye throughout the day and night. If you notice those types of symptoms, come in for a visit so we can treat your pink eye with antibiotics.
If you’re just experiencing red eyes from allergies, there are a few ways to treat them:
- Cool Compress: Hold a cool, wet washcloth against your eye and gently wipe away the draining. If you have a headache from your allergies, the cool compress will help too!
- Saline Eye Drops: Eye drops (or artificial tears) can flush out any pollen that accumulates in the eye, but can also soothe your eye if it’s itchy or irritated.
- Antihistamine Eye Drops: The antihistamine eye drops work to relieve watery, itchy eyes.
If your allergy symptoms continue for more than 10 days and feel like they’re getting worse, you may have a sinus infection. Symptoms of a sinus infection can include:
- Green nasal discharge for more than 10 days
- Sinus headaches, specifically pressure behind and around the eyes, forehead and upper cheeks
- Tooth pain in the upper back teeth
- Green discharge from the eyes
- A thick, mucusy cough
If you’re concerned at all that your symptoms may be something other than seasonal allergies, or if your symptoms are interfering with your daily life, we’re here to help. Contact us for an appointment, or simply walk in during our office hours.