Decoding Allergies: Symptoms, Differences, Diagnosis, and Treatments

Wyndly Care Team
Dedicated to giving everyone incredible care

How do I know if I'm having allergies?

Recognizing allergies involves identifying symptoms such as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, watery and itchy eyes, itching of the roof of the mouth or throat, and coughing. If these symptoms persist across seasons or in presence of certain triggers, it may indicate an allergy.

Get started
Wyndly Allergy

Beat your allergies forever.

Get Started With Wyndly

What Are Seasonal Allergies?

Seasonal allergies, also known as hay fever, are immune responses to allergens present in the environment at certain times of the year. Symptoms typically include sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and sore throat, among others.

Causes of Allergies

Allergies are caused by an overreaction of the immune system to substances deemed harmful. These allergens can include pollen from trees, grasses, and weeds, dust mites, mold spores, and animal dander. During certain seasons, the prevalence of these allergens increases, leading to seasonal allergies. For example, ragweed pollen is a common cause of fall allergies.

Allergy Season Duration

The duration of allergy season varies depending on the allergen and geographic location. Tree pollen allergies often occur in early spring, grass pollen allergies in late spring and early summer, and weed pollen allergies, such as hay fever, in late summer and fall. However, some individuals may experience chronic allergies, with symptoms persisting for several weeks or even year-round.

How Do Allergies Feel Like?

Allergies can cause various discomforts, from mild to severe. They can trigger physical symptoms like sneezing, runny nose, itchy eyes, and throat irritation, and they can also cause less visible effects like fatigue and "brain fog."

Signs of Seasonal Allergies

Seasonal allergies often manifest as sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, and itchy throat. However, they can also cause fatigue due to stress on your immune system and poor sleep quality. Some individuals experience "brain fog," a feeling of difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly. This is often due to the body's immune response to allergens and, in some cases, the sedating effects of certain allergy medications. If you're feeling unusually tired or having difficulty focusing during allergy season, your allergies could be the cause. You can learn more about how allergies can cause fatigue and brain fog on our blog.

Allergy Symptoms in Kids

In children, allergy symptoms may also include irritability, restlessness, and behavioral changes. These symptoms can sometimes be mistaken for a common cold. If your child has persistent or recurring symptoms, especially during a specific season, it could point to a seasonal allergy. Remember that allergy symptoms can cause significant discomfort and may impact a child's daily activities, including school performance. Therefore, it's crucial to seek medical attention if you suspect that your child might have allergies.

How Do Allergies Compare to Colds and Flu?

Differentiating between allergies, colds, and flu can be challenging as they share some similar symptoms. However, there are distinctive characteristics for each, such as onset, duration, and associated symptoms that can help distinguish one from another.

Allergies vs. Colds: Common Signs

Allergies and colds both can cause symptoms like sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, and sore throat. However, allergies often come with itchy, watery eyes, which are less common in colds. Additionally, colds may cause aches, fatigue, and sometimes fever, which are not typical allergy symptoms. Also, allergy symptoms tend to appear immediately after exposure to an allergen and can last as long as the exposure continues. On the other hand, cold symptoms usually take a few days to appear after infection and typically resolve within a week to ten days.

Difference Between Cold and Seasonal Allergy Symptoms

Seasonal allergy symptoms can closely resemble those of a common cold, but there are notable differences. For instance, seasonal allergies do not cause a fever or body aches, which are common cold symptoms. Additionally, seasonal allergies often cause itchy eyes, a symptom not usually associated with a cold. Furthermore, allergy symptoms tend to persist for longer periods, often for several weeks, especially during high pollen seasons. In contrast, cold symptoms usually subside within a week or so. Understanding these differences can help determine the cause of your symptoms.

Cold Versus Flu Symptoms: Distinguishing the Differences

Distinguishing between cold and flu symptoms can be a bit tricky. Both conditions can cause fever, aches, and fatigue, but these are often more severe with the flu. Flu often comes on suddenly and makes you feel quite ill, while a cold typically starts gradually with symptoms like a sore throat and runny or stuffy nose. Flu can also lead to more severe complications, like pneumonia, especially in high-risk groups, so it's essential to seek medical attention if you suspect the flu.

How to Diagnose Allergies?

Allergies are diagnosed by a healthcare professional based on your symptoms, physical examination, medical history, and results from allergy tests. The process involves ruling out other conditions that may cause similar symptoms such as a cold or flu.

Suspecting a Cold or Allergies: Diagnosis and Treatment Options

If you suspect you have a cold or allergies, a doctor can help you determine the cause of your symptoms. The diagnosis is generally based on the presence of common signs and symptoms, their duration, and any potential exposure to allergens. Treatment options for both conditions vary. Over-the-counter (OTC) medications are often recommended for symptomatic relief. For allergies, avoiding the allergen, using OTC allergy medications, and immunotherapy are common treatment options. If you're experiencing fatigue alongside your allergy symptoms, it could be due to allergies causing tiredness.

How Do COVID-19 Symptoms Differ From a Cold or Allergies?

COVID-19 symptoms can overlap with those of a cold or allergies, making it difficult to distinguish between them. COVID-19 often presents with fever, dry cough, and shortness of breath, symptoms not typically associated with allergies. Unlike a cold or allergies, COVID-19 can lead to severe respiratory illness. Therefore, it's essential to get tested if you experience symptoms like loss of taste or smell, difficulty breathing, or persistent pain or pressure in your chest. It's worth noting that allergy testing can help clarify if your symptoms are allergy-related or potentially due to another cause, such as COVID-19.

What Are the Treatment Options for Allergies?

The treatment options for allergies depend on the type and severity of your symptoms. OTC remedies to prescription medications and immunotherapy.

Allergy Treatments Available

Several treatments are available for managing allergies. OTC options include antihistamines, decongestants, and nasal sprays. Prescription medications may include corticosteroids, leukotriene modifiers, or allergy shots (immunotherapy). Allergy shots work by gradually exposing your body to increasing doses of the allergen, helping your immune system to build up a tolerance.

Managing Allergies Without Medication

It's possible to manage allergies without medication by avoiding known allergens, maintaining a clean environment, and using natural remedies. Nasal irrigation, a balanced diet, regular exercise, and staying hydrated can all help alleviate allergy symptoms.

Sublingual Immunotherapy

Sublingual immunotherapy works similarly to allergy shots, but instead of injections, you take a small dose of the allergen under your tongue. This treatment can be effective for pollen, dust mite, and pet allergies. It's a convenient option as it can be done at home, but it should always be supervised by a healthcare provider.

When Should You Consult a Doctor for Allergies?

You should consult a doctor for allergies when symptoms persist, intensify, or interfere with your daily activities. OTC remedies are ineffective or cause unwanted side effects, a healthcare provider can offer alternative treatments or refer you for allergy testing.

If your allergies lead to recurrent sinus infections, ear infections, or other complications, medical attention is necessary. Also, seek immediate help if you experience severe reactions such as difficulty breathing, chest tightness, or swelling of the throat.

For those with asthma, allergies can exacerbate symptoms and increase the risk of asthma attacks. Regular check-ups with your doctor can help manage both conditions effectively. It's important to remember that allergies are not just a nuisance but can significantly affect your quality of life. Timely medical intervention can help you manage your symptoms and enhance your overall well-being.

Live Allergy-Free with Wyndly

If you want long-term relief from your allergies, Wyndly can help. Our doctors will help you identify your allergy triggers and create a personalized treatment plan to get you the lifelong relief you deserve. Start by taking our quick online allergy assessment today!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I tell if I have allergies or a cold?

Distinguishing between allergies and a cold can be tricky. Allergies often cause itching of the eyes and nose, and symptoms last as long as you are exposed to the allergen. Colds, however, usually include body aches and fever, and symptoms typically dissipate within one to two weeks.

What do bad seasonal allergies feel like?

Bad seasonal allergies can be quite debilitating. They often feel like an intense cold with symptoms like constant sneezing, runny or congested nose, itchy or watery eyes, and a scratchy throat. Additionally, they may cause fatigue, sinus pressure, and headaches, which can affect daily activities.

What is the overview of allergies?

Allergies refer to an overreaction by the immune system to substances that usually cause no harm in most individuals. These substances, called allergens, can include pollen, dust, foods, and pet dander. Symptoms vary widely, from mild reactions like sneezing to severe ones like anaphylaxis.

How does your body feel when you have allergies?

When you have allergies, your body may feel tired and weak. You might also experience headaches, sinus pressure, and body aches. Specific symptoms can include itchy/watery eyes, sneezing, runny or stuffed nose, and itchy throat. These symptoms can vary in severity depending on allergen exposure.

What are the 7 allergy symptoms?

The seven common allergy symptoms include sneezing, runny or stuffy nose, itchy or watery eyes, itchy throat or ears, postnasal drip, cough, and fatigue. These symptoms can occur due to various allergens such as dust, pollen, mold, pet dander, and certain foods.

How does allergy medicine make you feel?

Allergy medicine can relieve allergy symptoms, making you feel better. However, it can also cause side effects like drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, and nausea. Different types of allergy medications will have varying effects, and individual reactions can also vary significantly. Always consult a healthcare provider for personalized advice.

What does an allergic reaction to medication feel like?

An allergic reaction to medication can cause symptoms like hives, rash, fever, swelling, shortness of breath, or anaphylaxis (a severe, potentially life-threatening reaction). It might also cause stomach upset, diarrhea, or headache. The severity and type of symptoms can vary significantly among individuals.

Is Wyndly right for you?

Answer just a few questions and we'll help you find out.

Get Started Today