It’s that time of year – when allergy sufferers are reaching for tissues and taking note of the daily pollen count. But if you haven’t been previously diagnosed with an allergy, how do you know if you have allergic rhinitis (hay fever) or are just coming down with a cold or the flu?
For one thing, colds and flus are caused by viruses. Allergies are not. Also, the flu causes high fever, along with headache, fatigue, and general aches and pains.
Allergic rhinitis is different. It develops when your body’s immune system becomes sensitized and overreacts to an allergen in the environment. Symptoms develop within minutes or hours after you breathe in the allergen and they can last for days. They include:
- Repetitious sneezing, especially after you wake up in the morning.
- A runny nose.
- Itchy, watery eyes.
- A tickle in your throat or coughing caused by postnasal drip.
- Itchy ears, nose, and throat.
But wait … aren’t those symptoms you experience similar to those of a cold? Yes, because a cold will affect your nose and throat. But colds take time to run their course, whereas allergy attacks don’t last as long and can be treated more effectively.
Besides, allergic rhinitis has other symptoms that may take longer to appear, such as:
- A stuffy nose, possibly with sniffling, forcing you to breathe instead through your mouth.
- Your eyes being sensitive to light.
- Feeling tired and irritable.
- Not sleeping well.
- Having a chronic cough.
- Pressure in one or both of your ears or having hearing difficulty.
- Pain or discomfort in your face.
- Dark circles or patches under your eyes. These are known as allergic shiners.
But there’s more to allergic rhinitis than just these basic symptoms. Your condition may get better or worse at different times of the year of at different stages of your life. Or you may experience allergy symptoms when you travel to a new region or climate.
For instance, your symptoms may be more severe in the winter if you spend more time indoors and you are allergic to dust mites, animal dander, or indoor mold. Likewise, depending on the time of the season and the plants that grow in your area, your allergic reaction may be triggered by pollen. Or, if you are pregnant, your symptoms might be more acute because you’re going through hormonal changes that weaken your immune system.
And, if you’re already suffering from asthma or sinusitis, allergic rhinitis will only make your condition worse.
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it would be wise to have yourself tested for allergic rhinitis – especially when these symptoms can be prevented or controlled, improving your quality of life.
If you’re seeking a highly qualified allergist/immunologist and medical practice that can take care of all your healthcare needs, call Intercoastal Medical Group today for an appointment with Dr. Aresery. He sees patients at our Beneva Professional Center office in Sarasota and our Lakewood Ranch office in Bradenton. You can also request the appointment online.