It's that time of year when coughs, colds and allergies are out in full swing. It seems that change of the seasons brings about more than just sunny days. It brings with it seasonal allergies and cold viruses. When do you start treating your allergies and how do you know if it's allergies or something else?
What are common signs of allergies?
Allergies are common during the springtime months. This time of year, the typical trigger is pollen. Allergies include symptoms such as sneezing, itchy watery eyes, and clear runny nose. Often, cough will be associated with this due to a postnasal drip. The cough is usually dry or productive of clear sputum. Headaches and mild nasal congestion are associated with allergies as well. Generally, you don't get fevers with allergies but can sometimes run occasional low-grade fevers along with it. If you have body aches, chills, and/or fevers that are persistent or high, make an appointment with your primary care provider today.
What can I do for my allergies?
Just because you have allergies doesn't mean you have to shut yourself up in your house and not enjoy the great outdoors! If you know that you have seasonal allergies and have been diagnosed by a provider for them in the past, you can try taking whatever over-the-counter medication your provider has recommended. Some over-the-counter allergy preparations include Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra, and Benadryl. Doses for children should be given to you by your medical provider. There are some over-the-counter nasal sprays such as saline sprays and nasal rinse kits that are helpful as well. There are also over-the-counter eye drops available to help with itchy, watery eye symptoms.
If conservative, over-the-counter treatments are not working, you need to see your medical provider. There are several prescription products available. These include oral medications, steroid nasal sprays, and sometimes injections of long-acting steroid. In extreme cases or people with year-round allergies, allergy testing and weekly injections may be warranted. This is a decision that will be made by your primary care physician.
When do I need to go to the doctor?
If you have never had allergies before, it would be wise to see your doctor for proper diagnosis. If you are running fevers consistently, that can be a sign of secondary infection. Severe nasal congestion and/or colored nasal drainage can be a sign of infection as well and needs to be assessed by your primary care provider. Any wheezing or breathing difficulties need to be assessed by a provider as well. If you have asthma in addition to your allergies and are having problems with your asthma, see your medical provider right away. If your symptoms do not improve with over the counter symptomatic treatment, you need to visit with your medical provider.
Allergies season is beginning, but you don't have to let it keep you from enjoying the great outdoors. If you have questions or concerns about your allergies, see your primary care provider today.