With temperatures in the 80s, the last thing anyone wants is a runny nose and constant sneezing to put a damper on vacation plans and outdoor festivals. While many blame their symptoms on a summer cold, it could be something much more.
"Contrary to popular belief, seasonal allergies don't only strike in the spring and fall months," said allergist Richard Weber, MD, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology. "Allergies are also common in the summer and can even last year-round for some sufferers."
The most common allergy triggers during the summer months are grass pollens and mold spores. In fact, mold can be more bothersome than pollen. Mold spores are everywhere and commonly outnumber pollen grains in the air even when the pollen season is at its worst.
Adults that have never before had allergies can fall victim this summer. This sudden case of adult-onset allergies can be easy to mistake for a cold.
"Although allergies are most common in childhood, they can strike at any age in life," said Dr. Weber. "Sometimes allergies go away, but can return several years later. Allergies tend to run in families which can make some people more susceptible than others."
Cold and allergy symptoms can often mirror one another. According to the ACAAI, you can help rule out cold or allergies by asking yourself the following questions:
- Symptoms for two weeks? If you answered yes, you more likely have allergies. While colds might seem to linger forever, they are not as persistent as allergies.
- Escalating symptoms? If your symptoms evolve you might have a summer cold. Colds evolve, usually starting with a stuffy nose, throat irritation and low grade fever. Next comes the sneezing and a runny nose, with thickening mucus.
- Green or clear? Colored mucus probably isn't the most pleasant symptom you want to think about. Mucus that turns yellow or green if often thought to indicate an infection, but could also be seen with allergies. Clear mucus can be with either the common cold or allergies.
- Have an itch or wheezing? Itchy eyes, throat, and nose, along with sneezing, usually mean allergy. If you also have asthma, you might be more likely to have an allergy. An estimated 75 to 80 percent of asthmatics also have an allergy.
Summer colds and allergies might not seem serious, but they can be. Both can progress and lead to other health complications.
If symptoms are persistent, you should see a board-certified allergist for proper testing, diagnosis and treatment. While there is no cure for seasonal allergies, an allergist may prescribe immunotherapy, also known as allergy shots. This form of treatment can put you on the fast track to relief and is known to modify and prevent diseases progression.
For more information about allergies, and to take an allergy relief self-test, visit www.AllergyAndAsthmaRelief.org.
The above story is based on materials provided by American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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