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Is It Just Seasonal Allergies or Something More?

It’s allergy season once again! As spring approaches, more and more people will begin their descent into the horrid cycle of sneezing - runny nose - itchy, red, watery and swollen eyes. In the U.S. alone, allergies are the 6th leading culprit of chronic illness with an annual cost in excess of $18 billion. And every year, more than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies.

As allergies tend to share many of the same symptoms with colds and flu, it can be difficult to tell if it’s just seasonal allergies or something more. Read on to discover how to detect the subtle differences and what to do about it.

What are allergies?

Allergies are our immune system’s overreaction to otherwise ordinarily harmless substances. It can be seasonal or chronic with reactions ranging from merely bothersome to something life-threatening such as anaphylaxis.

Seasonal allergies include:

  • Pollen allergies: Birch, oak, grass, ragweed

  • Insect bites and stings: Bees, wasps, fire ants, hornets, wasps, yellow jackets

  • Skin allergies: Poison ivy, sunburn, grass, weeds

Allergy symptoms can vary and are not limited to:

  • Sneezing

  • Itching in the nose, roof of the mouth, throat, eyes

  • Runny and Stuffy nose

  • Watery and teary eyes

  • Dark circles under the eyes

What’s confusing is that the aforementioned symptoms are very similar in nature to those who have colds, flu, sinus infections and sometimes are the onset of something even worse. These symptoms may not be as severe as those of acute sinusitis. But if left untreated, chronic inflammation can cause serious damage to your sinuses and will require surgery to repair.

Chronic sinus issues can also be caused by allergies. However, it can also be the result of a respiratory tract infection, gastroesophageal reflux, nasal polyps, a deviated septum, a cleft palate, or even cystic fibrosis. Sometimes, these sinus problems can even cause snoring!

The good news is there are ways to quickly identify and differentiate the symptoms of one illness from another. Here are some simple questions to help differentiate between your run-of-the-mill seasonal allergies or something worse:

1. Do you have a fever?

Allergies produce temps similar to that of a low-grade fever but never reach higher than 38.9º C or 102º F. So if you have hot flashes or chills, then that definitely is not allergy driven.

2. Do you have green snot or phlegm?

Yellow usually means caution but in this case, pale or yellow colored snot means it’s likely allergies. Green does mean go. Go to a doctor, as you likely have an infection.

3. Do you have bad breath along with a congested nose? Seasonal allergies always causes congestion, but that paired with bad breath is a great sign that you’re dealing with an infection and NOT allergies.

4. How long have you been experiencing these symptoms? Allergies can definitely cause pain around your eyes and forehead / temple area. But pain that reaches your cheeks, even up to your teeth is a sign of inflammation or sinus infections. If this is the case, you absolutely need to see a doctor.

5. Do you experience these symptoms regularly? Like at certain times of the year? Seasonal allergies are definitely predictable, sometimes to the T. So if the answer to the question is yes. And you have these symptoms at the same time every year like clockwork, then it’s most likely allergies. But if you notice your symptoms worsening or lasting longer than normal, it’s always best to meet with your physician to rule out any possible illnesses or issues.

Here at Marvel Clinic, our staff of medical professionals can help determine your condition through allergy testing, consultation and lab exams and ensure what treatment is best for you! So stop the guesswork and get yourself checked.

Schedule a consultation today by giving us a call at 931-398-1158.

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