Ragweed pollen levels are at a moderate level. On top of that, cold season is beginning. What does this mean? You or a loved one may soon be suffering with sniffles and more. Allergist Hiba Bashir, MD, with Fairview Clinics, provides some tips to help you know if you’re dealing with allergies or a cold–and how to find relief.
Q. How can I tell if I'm fighting fall allergies or a cold?
Dr. Bashir: Symptoms of a cold or seasonal allergies can often be very similar. If you think you have a cold, but the symptoms last beyond one to two weeks, it could be a sign you’re suffering from allergies. Allergy symptoms typically consist of itchy or watery eyes, sneezing, runny nose or stuffy nose. These symptoms may improve with medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec, Allegra or Benadryl.
Q. What are the biggest triggers for allergies in the fall?
Dr. Bashir: Fall allergies are typically triggered by ragweed and other fall weed pollens as well as outdoor molds.
Q. What’s the best way to treat my symptoms? When should I go to the doctor?
Dr. Bashir: You can start by taking over-the-counter allergy medications such as Claritin, Zyrtec or Allegra, using allergy eye drops or trying a nasal spray such as Flonase. Alternative treatments such as a neti pot can also provide relief of allergy symptoms. If your symptoms do not improve with these treatments you should follow up with your doctor.
Q. Can adults develop seasonal allergies even if they've never really suffered from allergies before?
Dr. Bashir: Yes, seasonal allergy symptoms can develop at any time. Most often symptoms will begin in childhood or early adulthood but people can develop new allergies at any age. If you have concerns that you may be experiencing allergy symptoms, seeing an allergist can help determine the cause of your symptoms.
Q. Is it possible to get ahead of the allergy season?
Dr. Bashir: If you have seasonal allergies, starting to take medications before the allergy season begins can help prevent you from having symptoms. Often I recommend starting to take allergy medications about two weeks before the allergy season begins to keep symptoms from developing.
I also remind patients that keeping windows in your home or care closed or car closed can help minimize exposure to outdoor allergens. And after spending the day outdoors, take a shower and wash your hair to also minimize allergens.
If you’re not feeling well, you can turn to Fairview Clinics. With same-day appointments and 24/7 scheduling, we make it easy to get care at more than 40 clinics throughout the metro. Just call 855-FAIRVIEW anytime, or request an appointment online at fairview.org at a clinic convenient for you.