The weather is warming up, the birds are waking back up, the grass is beginning to grow, and the Magnolia and Dogwoods are blossoming. Ahh, spring in Chapel Hill is FINALLY here.
And if you are anything like me so are the allergies. You might be asking yourself right now, “Am I getting another cold?” And maybe you are because there have certainly been a lot of those around lately, but there is a good chance that it is just your overactive immune system trying to fight off pollen. But how can you tell if what you are experiencing is a cold or allergies? Well it is not so easy, and sometimes it is hard even for doctors to tell but the Mayo Clinic lists some common symptoms of each. There are some symptoms however that are signs that it is one or the other.
- Sore Throat
- Could cause fever or aches and pains
- Potential fever
- Usually only lasts 5-7 days
These symptoms are rare with Allergies.
- Itchy, watery eyes
- May last longer than a week or symptoms may be present off and on
This is very rare with a cold.
Some people often do not realize they are suffering from allergies because they have never had them before, but unfortunately, you can develop allergies at any time in your life. I was not allergic to anything (except poison ivy) until my early 20s and then I started to get allergies in the fall, and now I get them in the fall and spring. So what are you to do? Well whether it is a cold or allergies, you want to treat the symptoms with an antihistamine. Some common examples include over-the-counter Benadryl (beware of drowsiness with Benadryl), Claritin, or Zyrtec. They help to get rid of some of that annoying nasal drip (i.e. mucus). You also can treat them with corticosteroids, and decongestants (if you have a stuffy nose). Nasal sprays may also be helpful, such as a saline spray just to rinse out allergens, or a more powerful prescription nose spray such as Flonase to combat symptoms. For those with chronic allergies, another possible and more permanent solution is Immunotherapy or allergy shots. This is the process of getting a series of shots over 3-5 years, that contains some of the allergen. The idea is to introduce the allergen into your body so that eventually your body recognizes it is not harmful. I know people often use this if they develop allergies to pets and do not want to give up their fury friends, and can be extremely helpful in combating environmental allergies too
If you have tried over-the-counter treatments and think you may need something stronger you can make an appointment at Campus Health Services. If starting allergy shots is something that you and your physician decide, you can get them right here on campus throughout the year.
So if you are constantly blowing your nose, and rubbing your itchy eyes, I empathize. Take some antihistamines and get out and enjoy this weather that we have been waiting so long for. Just don’t rub your face in the grass, instead smell the roses (haha) because they actually have almost no airborne pollen.