Springtime Colds In Southwest Ohio Can Often Be Seasonal Allergies

Properly identifying the problem can help manage symptoms before they get out of control

DAYTON, Ohio (March 12, 2013) – It might be time to re-evaluate the cold that seems to mysteriously appear every time March rolls around because the runny nose and irritating cough may actually point to something else.

Springtime allergies often share symptoms presented in a cold, but the two are significantly different. “Properly diagnosing allergies is important so individuals can receive the best treatment and avoid uncontrolled symptoms that can turn into bigger problems,” said Roberta Kern, MD, at EduCare Family Medicine in Springboro, a Premier HealthNet practice.

“Allergies usually aren’t as severe as a cold,” Dr. Kern said. “With allergies you’re going to get watery eyes, a runny nose, and a non-productive cough. When you get a cold you can get all that, but it’s worse. Things really start to back up: you get sinus pressure, often along with a headache, ear pain and sore throat. Allergies can be a gateway to a cold, but they are different from each other.”

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, Southwest Ohio is one of the most challenging places to live for those with spring allergies. In 2012, Dayton, Ohio, ranked No. 10 on the foundation’s annual spring allergy list for having a worse-than-average pollen count. The foundation also found that the area’s population has a lower-than-average use of allergy medication.

The best way to treat allergies is to get them diagnosed early. Much like any other allergy, seasonal allergies can develop at any point in life. Just because individuals had a childhood free of allergy issues doesn’t mean it won’t hit in their adult years. Pinpointing the environmental reason for allergy issues can sometimes be easy although there are various reasons as to why they may develop during different stages of life, according to the American College of Allergy Asthma and Immunology. And while allergy issues can pop up anytime of the year, it tends to be worse in spring.

Dr. Kern recommends individuals to see their physician to discuss their symptoms and determine if they are indeed experiencing allergies.

“When I have someone come in who doesn’t really know what is going on I spend time learning about their history,” she said. “If they say, ‘Yes, this time of year I always get a head cold,’ then I look deeper into their symptoms and once a pattern is established we can pretty much say that it is probably more than a cold.”

Medication and lifestyle changes can play a big role in minimizing allergy symptoms. Over-the-counter medications often provide the relief most patients are looking for but sometimes prescription medications can be more effective. Most importantly it helps to know what triggers the allergic response and to avoid it. Staying indoors during peak hours on a day that has a high pollen count is one way to do that. Making other healthy choices – such as not smoking – can help the body better handle those kinds of triggers.

“If you think you are suffering from allergies then seeing your primary care doctor is important,” Dr. Kern said. “Doctors can provide the guidance you need to best help treat your allergies.”

Learn more about seasonal allergies

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