This post has been compensated by the CVS Minute Clinic. All opinions listed are 100% my own.
Every year about this time, I come down with the worst set of allergies on the face of the Earth. In fact, I am finally coming out of the funk I have been under for about the last 3 weeks. It all started with a scratchy throat and bloomed into a full on allergy attack!
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 spring allergies with a common cold. While a cold only lasts about a week, allergies can last weeks even MONTHS before it goes away.
So what are allergies anyway?
The first thing you need to understand is what allergies really are. I was always confused until I recently discovered this —
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.
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 how can I tell the difference between allergies and a cold?
There are some signs and symptoms you need to be aware of to know the difference between 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 each 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 has 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.
So, now that you know the difference between the two, what can you do to combat those nasty allergies when they hit?
1. Get relief fast!
It’s impossible to keep your kids from coming into contact with pollen, but it is possible to get relief – fast!
2. Shake it Off!
Shake it off! Before coming inside, rid your clothes of pollen with a good shake.
3. Decide if you are fighting a cold or allergies.
Spring sniffles and sneezing are most likely NOT a cold. Could it be allergies? Click here to find out.
4. Skip the hair gel!
Did you know hair gel could be a pollen magnet? Skip the sticky stuff during allergy season for a little extra relief.
5. Window fans are not your friend.
Avoid window fans! While convenient, they tend to bring in unwanted pollens or mold spores.
6. Itchy red eyes don’t need any accessories.
7. Go fashionable in your shades.
Pull out the shades! Sunglasses protect your eyes from pollen, while keeping you looking stylish at the same time.
8. Clean sheets are a must!
Fall asleep on clean sheets. Wash your bedding every two weeks to help ease allergy symptoms.
My favorite tips and one extra tip from a friend . . .
Out of all the tips above, my two favorites are the ones about the clean sheets and shaking off your clothing when you come in.
In fact, I have a friend who washes her hair every evening before going to bed because she says that pollen collects on your hair — so that is an extra tip for you!
How can I protect my family and myself?
Symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and over-the-counter or prescription antihistamines may help relieve symptoms as well.
So, how do I get allergy relief?
There are plenty of options! At MinuteClinic, their 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 next time you are unsure if what you are going through is a cold or allergies, use these questions and the CVS MinuteClinic to help you determine your spring allergy needs.