Disclosure: I received promotional consideration for this post. All opinions expressed are solely my own.
I love fall. The weather is cooling off and running is becoming easier. Virginia puts up a gorgeous display of leaves. Soup returns to our menu and dark beers re-appear on the grocery shelves. Every weekend there are options for fall festivals and activities around DC. As a topper, both of my boys have fall birthdays. It really is my favorite time of year.
Except for the allergies. I always forget each year that the cat and I suffer from fall allergies. (Yes, the cat.) Every year I think I’m coming down with a cold and then I realize that colds don’t usually make my ears itch, so allergies it is. A few doses of my favorite allergy meds and I feel much better. Who knew that ragweed was just as big a problem in the fall?
Do you have this issue too? Wondering if that runny nose is your first cold of the season?
Here are some differences between the a cold, allergies, and the flu:
Cold vs. allergies
• 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 year after 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 will have 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.
Flu vs. Allergies
• Severe shortness of breath may seem like a symptom for allergies, but it is probably a sign of the flu.
• Ragweed pollen is one of the main fall allergy triggers. Certain foods like bananas, melon and zucchini can also be a trigger for those allergic to ragweed.
• Dust mites are a common allergy that can get stirred into the air when you turn on your heat for the first time in the fall.
• It is common to have a fever for 3-4 days with the flu. Fever is not a side effect of allergies.
• Itchy, watery eyes are a common fall allergy symptom. If you have itchy eyes, it probably is not the flu.
• The color of your mucus may indicate whether or not you have the flu or if its just allergies. Green/yellow mucus can be a sign of a cold or flu. Mucus from allergies should be a clear liquid.
• How quickly did your symptoms arise? You are likely to feel flu symptoms suddenly, when allergy symptoms can worsen within a few days.
So, once you’ve determined your sneezing is an allergy and not a cold or the flu, what should you do?
Symptoms can usually be controlled with treatment. Nasal saline, decongestants and over-
the-counter or prescription antihistamines may help relieve symptoms as well.
There are plenty of options! At MinuteClinic, 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.
Here are some tips for surviving fall allergies:
• In the early fall, keep your windows closed from 10am to 4pm. This will reduce your exposure to allergens like ragweed. (I have a really hard time with this as the fall is the only time we can have our windows open a lot during the day.)
• Fall sniffles and sneezing are most likely NOT a cold. Could it be allergies?
• Clean and change air filters every three months to reduce the amount of dirt, debris, and allergens that you come in contact with everyday.
• Avoid window fans! While convenient, they tend to bring in unwanted pollens or mold spores.
• Don’t accessorize w/ itchy red eyes! Visit @MinuteClinic for the allergy relief you need!
• In the fall, we start pulling out cozy quilts when it gets cold. But these can be the home to dust mites, causing your allergies to become enflamed. Wash your bedding every two weeks to help ease allergy symptoms.
I’m suffering with the double whammy of allergies and a cough. I’m hoping the cough will end soon (the allergies are easy to control) or I’ll be going to see someone. Amazingly, I’m able to go for a slow easy run without coughing!
Probably not a good idea to do my kids’ favorite fall activity: leaf pile jumping and burying…
I have received promotional consideration from Minute Clinic for this post. All opinions are my own.