You know those common cold symptoms? Common things like a runny nose, sneezing, fever, and coughing. The cold virus itself isn’t the cause of the majority of these symptoms, as it happens. Actually, your body’s immune response creates these symptoms as a by-product. Strange though it may sound, a fever is only one tool in your body’s toolbox, created to protect you from bacteria and viruses.
The immune system is a rather amazing thing! It keeps you healthy when you would otherwise be overwhelmed by germs. But sometimes, your immune system gets overwhelmed and can’t get everything right. Sometimes, all those antibodies detect something innocuous and confuse it for a viral invader.
All kinds of things can trigger allergic reactions in people: pollen, nuts, animals, dust, or pretty much anything else. Environmental allergies, specifically, can cause symptoms that are very similar to the common cold: runny nose, sneezing, headaches, and more. Environmental allergies are normally breathed in, they’re part of your environment (hence the name), making them even more challenging to avoid. After a while, this can cause havoc with your sinuses (along with your peace of mind).
Seasonal allergy symptoms
Allergic reactions happen when your immune system distinguishes something otherwise harmless as a threat to your health. Whether that’s mold, pollen, or animal dander, your immune system will then fire up its defenses. This will produce some of those common symptoms for the majority of individuals. Here are several of the most prevalent:
- Feeling tired all the time
- An itchy nose
- Coughing and wheezing
- Stuffy nose
- Postnasal drip
- Eyes that are itchy or red or watery
- Dark circles under your eyes
The symptoms can be considerable as you can see. These symptoms can also vary substantially from person to person. One person may begin coughing when they are around a furry pet, another may start to sneeze. But there’s a reason why sneezing is such a well-known symptom, among others.
Allergy symptom causes
Environmental allergies can be triggered by a wide variety of substances, medical professionals generally call them “allergens”. Common allergens include the following:
- Pollen: This is a huge contributor to seasonal allergies. Seasonally, these microspores are discharged by things like grasses, weeds, and trees. They’re completely harmless unless you’re allergic to them. The majority of pollens only travel a small distance and stay fairly local. However, some pollens can journey long distances on air currents. Which means you could have a pollen allergy even if there’s nothing green in sight.
- Dust: Most individuals would be rather surprised to know how much dust is in most homes. Allergic reactions can be triggered either by this dust itself or by other allergens that the dust might carry. It’s a good reason to clean your house!
- Pet dander: Your allergic reaction isn’t generally triggered by the fur on your cat or dog.: it’s their dander. Particularly because the dander can get into the air very easily. Pet dander can lead to all of those allergy symptoms if you have allergies to it.
- Dust mites: Dust mites are very small bugs that feast on dust. They’re usually absolutely harmless. But when they cause allergic reactions, it means you can end up with itchy eyes or a runny nose, or even wheezing.
These are just a couple of the environmental allergens out there. Lots of these categories can be sorted even more (for instance, if you have an allergy to pine trees, that doesn’t automatically mean you would have an allergy to oak trees.).
How do I know if I have allergies?
So, you might have an idea about what you’re allergic to. But going to your doctor to get examined is the only way to find out. There are a couple of ways that allergies can be diagnosed. The two most prevalent are:
- Blood testing: There are specific markers your doctor will locate in your blood sample that will indicate an allergy response.
- Pin prick test: Your doctor will lightly prick your skin with presumed allergens and watch to see if there’s a reaction! This is generally the most reliable way to find out what you’re allergic to. It can lead to some itching, but that’s an ordinary part of the test.
You will always be required to go see your doctor for an official diagnosis. And the best thing is, you’ll always know exactly what you’re allergic to.
How to treat allergies
Allergic reactions, unfortunately, can’t be cured. But there are three basic approaches to managing them.
It’s possible for you to prevent the onset of allergy symptoms by minimizing your exposure to allergen triggers. This means keeping your house clean and as free of dust and mold as possible. Your pets should be brushed regularly and don’t hang your clothes out to dry.
Outdoors, this means monitoring the pollen count before you plan activities, and wearing a mask if necessary. Pollen counts are often lowest in the early morning and late evening, so plan your activities around those times.
Managing symptoms can sometimes be accomplished with the use of short-term medications, such as antihistamines. Hopefully, these medications will provide some respite when symptoms flare up.
These medications are typically short-term, they’ll get you through a day or a week, but most individuals don’t like to be on them for months or years at a time.
Treating allergies over the long-term
Immunotherapy is a long-term treatment solution that frequently proves to be quite successful. Your doctor will expose you to a tiny quantity of the particular allergen that triggers you.
It’s not enough to cause a reaction. But it is enough to start getting your immune system accustomed to the allergen. The amount of allergen will progressively increase with each following injection. With time, this technique can successfully desensitize your immune system.
It may take some months to accomplish positive outcomes with this treatment. But you can be free of symptoms for many years once your immune system is desensitized to that allergen. Immunotherapy is available in the form of allergy shots, liquid drops, or tablets.
Allergies don’t need to ruin your quality of life
You may, at times, find yourself with a cold that just won’t quit, particularly at particular times the of year. Well, it may not even be a cold! Environmental allergies can be especially problematic because they’re so prevalent that they’re hard to escape.
But just because you experience environmental allergies doesn’t mean you have to be miserable. You can get a sinus infection or recurring sinus infections from seasonal allergies, after all. The best way to prevent all that is to be certain you’re controlling your allergy symptoms the best you can.
Need some help with your environmental allergies? Schedule an appointment with us and learn about your options.