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Are you sniffling and sneezing? You might already be aware that you suffer from seasonal allergies. If you're not, don't write your symptoms off as a cold too quickly. Spring is, after all, the time during which trees and many plants begin to bloom and release pollen. This article will take a closer look at allergic rhinitis — usually called hay fever. Find out what the symptoms are, what you can do to feel better, and how you can find out whether you're allergic and what you are allergic to.
Seasonal Allergies: The Culprits
Pollen is one of the biggest allergens, and the cause of seasonal allergies. It's is a fine powder released into the air by trees and plants. Pollen is essential to a plants' reproductive system (call it "plant sperm"), but it can seriously mess with your immune system — which mistakes the pollen for germs, and triggers a stream of histamines and the accompanying nasty symptoms.
What are the most common offenders? There's actually a long list, and pollen can travel far and wide, making it harder to self-identify what is causing your problems. Tree-wise, you might have trouble with alder, ash, aspen, beech, box elder and ceder. Cottonwood, cypress, elm, hickory, juniper, maple, mulberry and oak are other potential problems. Then you have olive, palm, pine, poplar, sycamore and willow. Plants you might be allergic to include bermuda, fescue, johnson, june, orchard, perennial rye, redtop, saltgrass, sweet vernal, and timothy.
Having symptoms of seasonal allergies is quite enough to conclude that you're allergic to something, but you'll need allergy tests if you want to know exactly what you are allergic to.
Tell-Tale Signs You Are Allergic
The symptoms seasonal allergies might give you are often similar to those associated with a cold. How, then, do you tell the difference? An allergy will often give the patient a runny and stuffy nose, cause sneezing, and might result in a sore throat and a cough. Red and itchy eyes are common in people with allergies. They might also feel weak and fatigued.
A cold will cause a stuffy and runny nose as well, and sneezing is another symptom a cold has in common with a seasonal allergy. Coughing is more likely to appear in people with a cold than in those suffering from allergies, meanwhile.
The big difference is that a cold can cause aches and pains all over the body, while allergy symptoms are more localized. Though a cold can occasionally lead to fevers, that just doesn't happen with allergies.
The duration of the symptoms offers another big clue. Do you think you "tend to come down with a cold in spring" a lot? You're more likely to be dealing with an allergy. A cold will pass after a few days to two weeks. Allergic symptoms can, on the other hand, persist for weeks — as long as the pollen season lasts.