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Cold or Nasal Allergies

by Jeff Dailey

Cold or Nasal Allergies

Cold or Nasal AllergiesDo you wonder if you suffer from nasal allergies or the common cold? First we nee to understand the symptoms of nasal allergies, also referred to as “hay fever” and allergic rhinitis. Nasal allergies represent the body’s natural defense mechanism against certain allergens. When allergens come into contact with the nose, inflammation of the lining of the nose occurs. This inflammatory process produces the common symptoms experienced with nasal allergies. Cold or Nasal Allergies
What are the different types of nasal allergies?
Some people suffer from nasal allergies every day of the year or perennially. Other individuals suffer from seasonal nasal allergies which occur during seasons in which the count of the offending pollen is high.
How common are nasal allergies?
Nasal allergies affect 35 million people in the U.S. and is the most common allergy-based disease, by far. Perennial allergies occur in about 20 million people, while seasonal allergies occur in about 15 million people.
What are the symptoms of nasal allergies?
The most common immediate symptoms of nasal allergies include:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Frequent sniffing
  • Postnasal drip, which often feels like a tickle in the throat and may cause a cough.
  • Itchy and/or watery eyes
  • Itchy ears, nose, and throat
  • Dark patches or circles under the eyes (“allergic shiners”)
  • Frequent rubbing the nose

How can I determine if I have nasal allergies or a cold?
Both seasonal allergies and colds can cause many of the same symptoms, like a runny or stuffy nose. However, looking for several different symptoms can help you determine if you have a cold or seasonal allergies. If you have itchy or watery eyes, it is probably seasonal allergies. People with colds more commonly have coughs, you may have body pains or aches, and you may be more likely to have a sore throat. The biggest difference between the two is that cold symptoms typically last less than 2 weeks, while seasonal allergy symptoms can last 4 to 6 weeks, or longer.
How are nasal allergies diagnosed?
The history of your symptoms is very important in helping your healthcare provider determine if you are experiencing nasal allergies or some type of infection, like a sinus infection. Your physician may choose to perform an allergy skin test. During this test, a small sample of blood may be drawn or small amounts of allergens (like animal dander or dust) are scratched or pricked into the skin so the physician can observe for signs of an allergic reaction. An allergy skin test can help you know what allergens to avoid.
What are the consequences of nasal allergies?
Nasal allergies do not get nearly the respect they deserve. It is not a trivial condition. Nasal allergies can greatly impair the quality of your life. Consider the following facts on nasal allergies:

  • Nasal allergies add $5 to $6 billion in direct costs to the nation’s annual health care bill.
  • Nasal allergies account for over 15 million physician office visits per year.
  • Nasal allergies account for over 4 million lost work days per year.
  • Nasal allergies account for over 1 million lost school days per year.

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