The end of winter usually means the start of allergy season. As the grass starts to green and the trees start to bud the pollen levels can go through the roof. For many, the discomfort of allergy season is an annual rite of passage.
Often times the symptoms of allergies can be nearly identical to the signs of a cold or even the flu. So how do you know if you’re struggling with pollen, dust, weeds or if you’ve got something else? Getting an accurate diagnosis of what you’re experiencing is the first step towards finding some real relief.
“Congestion, sneezing, runny nose, watery eyes, and scratchy throat can all be signs of allergies but they are also symptoms of the common cold,” says Dr. Naureen Ahmeduddin, D.O., family medicine doctor, Memorial Hermann Medical Group Sweetwater. “One possible way to tell the difference between the common cold and allergies is that a cold will often occur with a mild fever or achiness. Allergies usually do not cause body aches or fever.”
Allergies to pet dander and dust can occur year round but seasonal allergies are caused by exposure to pollen. Tree pollen is highest in the spring, grass in the summer and weed pollen in the fall.
Rain showers can provide some temporary relief for allergy sufferers by washing out the air and clearing out much of the pollen. However, with just a few dry, sunny days the pollen levels will quickly climb.
Sometimes just taking a shower before you go to bed at night can help. During the course of the day tiny pollen dust particles can collect on your hair and skin. A late day shower will rinse off the pollen dust that’s collected and help reduce your exposure to the pollen when you go to sleep at night.
Long time allergy sufferers often know the symptoms and know what time of year to expect them. Many times allergies can be easily managed with over the counter medication. But occasionally the effects of allergies can become more frequent and even more severe to the point it becomes necessary to see an allergist. So how do you know when it’s time to ditch the over the counter meds for a visit to the doctor?
If your symptoms become chronic, meaning they’re lingering for longer periods of time, and aren’t responding to any of your home remedies it may be time to see your family doctor. If you’re experiencing chronic sinus infections, having difficulty breathing or if the symptoms are starting to interfere with your day to day activities it’s probably best to seek the advice of your doctor.
“In a majority of the cases, the symptoms you might experience can be treated by your family doctor,” says Dr. Ahmeduddin.
So when does it all end? It’s not uncommon for allergy season to start as early as January and linger well into fall across southeast Texas. The colder temperatures of late fall and early winter are better at bringing down those pollen numbers to more manageable levels for a longer period of time.
The Memorial Hermann Medical Group’s primary care physicians and advanced practice providers work with specialists to help keep you and your family healthy year round. If your allergies are starting to get the best of you it may be time to give them a call.
You can schedule an appointment online through ScheduleNow or visit mhmg.memorialhermann.org.