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Spring allergies? Or just a cold?

published: 03-28-2016 Journal entry icon

Sneezing, runny nose, watery and/or itchy eyes, and fatigue? Both colds and seasonal allergies make you feel miserable, but you can take steps to avoid or at least take the edge off them. To do so, though, you need to understand which is which. The causes are distinctly different: Colds are caused by viruses, which means they’re contagious. Allergies come from sensitivity to “allergens” such as seasonal pollen, and they’re not contagious.

You can avoid colds through hygiene such as washing your hands thoroughly, especially after touching public surfaces such as handrails. You can avoid “sharing” a cold by covering your mouth or nose when you cough or sneeze or simply by staying home when you’re sick.

To avert seasonal allergies, on the other hand, you must avoid the allergens (mostly airborne) that cause your symptoms. Common allergens in spring include grass and tree pollen. It can be a challenge to exercise and enjoy the outdoors if you have allergies, but it’s not impossible. Here are some tips to help you manage your allergies:

  • Know and avoid your allergy triggers. If you aren’t sure what you’re allergic to, have tests done by a healthcare specialist to help you narrow it down. Your doctor also might suggest an antihistamine, inhaler, or medication to help prevent flare-ups.
  • Check the air quality in your area every day. If the pollen count (app available!) is high, avoid spending too much time outside, mowing the grass, or exercising outdoors.
  • If you must be outside during high-pollen/pollutant times, wear a filter mask to keep particles out of your nose and mouth. If you have to go somewhere, keep your car windows shut.
  • Shower when you come back indoors to wash pollen off your skin, hair, and eyelashes.
  • Rinse out your nose with a saline spray or solution to help wash away allergens after you’ve been outside.

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