Spring time brings warmer weather, longer days, colorful vegetation and pollen. More than 50 million Americans suffer from allergies each year, according to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. For seasonal allergy sufferers, increased pollen can trigger sneezing, runny nose, sore throat and itchy, watery eyes.
Tips for combating pollen
- Plan ahead: Pollen counts peak between 5 a.m. and 10 a.m. Stay indoors during this time and plan outdoor activities for later in the day. Various apps can provide up-to-date information on pollen activity specific to your area.
- Wear protective gear: When doing yardwork, if you will be outside for longer periods of time, or if you are extra sensitive to allergens in the air, consider wearing a face mask to minimize inhaling or swallowing pollen. Sunglasses or even goggles can also help protect your eyes from allergens.
- Manage your symptoms: Over the counter antihistamines or nasal steroids can help keep the sneezing and other symptoms at bay.
- Talk to your doctor: If you aren’t getting relief, talk you your doctor about what treatment plan is best for you.
Allergies vs. colds: how to tell the difference
Adults have an average of two to three colds per year and children have even more, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. With similar symptoms, it can be difficult to tell the difference between allergies and a cold, particularly during the spring.
Martindale says there are three key differences:
- A common cold is more likely to include a fever, muscle aches, headaches and a sore throat.
- Allergies are more likely to cause itchy, watery eyes combined with a runny nose and congestion.
- Colds tend to last for a few days up to a couple of weeks while seasonal allergies are more likely to last longer — as long as you are in contact with the allergy triggers.