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It's Spring, and the Allergies Are A'Bloom

Here's how to tell which is which

SATURDAY, April 19, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- Millions of Americans suffer from allergies in the spring, when airborne pollens are most plentiful.

While these allergies mirror the symptoms of a simple cold -- including sneezing, runny nose and watery eyes -- they also cause itchy eyes, which colds don't. Conversely, a fever can accompany a cold but not an allergic reaction.

Allergic rhinitis, also known as hay fever, is the most common type of springtime allergy, affecting about 35 million Americans. According to Inova Health System, a not-for-profit health-care system based in Northern Virginia, allergic rhinitis is an immune disorder that causes the body to react to airborne allergens such as pollen, dust mites, mold and animal dander. Those who suffer only during the spring months are probably allergic to tree or grass pollen.

Inova recommends checking with a physician to make sure your symptoms are an allergic reaction and not a cold or some other problem. The physician may run some tests to see which allergen is causing the trouble and then advise the patient to steer clear of the source as much as possible. This is difficult with tree pollen, however, because of the sheer volume of it in the spring air.

Springtime asthma is another common seasonal allergy. As the weather warms and people spend more time outdoors, exposure to outdoor asthma triggers such as pollens, molds and animals dander are increased. Inhaling these seasonal allergens can cause the airways of the asthmatic to become inflamed, produce mucus and constrict.

For both allergic and non-allergic asthma, experts recommend environmental control and avoidance of triggers, plus the use of anti-inflammatory medications.

More information

The allergy prevention center has more on springtime allergies.

SOURCE: Inova Health System
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