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the dr. is in:

tips on treating hay fever in spring

We are excited to head into spring, but along with this time of year often comes drainage, coughing, sneezing, and watery, itchy eyes. Spring fever? Maybe literally! The official term for the symptoms from which people suffer is “hay fever”, affecting anyone who suffers from allergies. Apparently, it is also very common and widespread across the United States, as more than 3 million cases are reported each year. The good news is that it is usually self-diagnosible and you can treat it at home, with no doctor appointment necessary (of course, should you have a severe case causing other uncomfortable symptoms like a sinus infection, see your doctor for treatment). The bad news is that it occurs either seasonally or year round (depending on where you live), and that it can be a lifelong condition with which you must learn to cope. But what is “hay fever” and when is it just a cold? 1) Let’s be clear --- hay fever is NOT a fever. The name can be misleading 10

multiplicity

by dr. preeti parikh

because hay fever is also known as “seasonal allergic rhinitis”, which has nothing to do with a fever at all. It is an allergic reaction to usually pollen-producing plants in certain times of the year and places in the country. Tree pollen is usually highest in the early spring; grasses are often the cause during late spring and early summer. Weeds are most often the cause of allergies during the summer and fall. This is how some people can be affected year-round. 2) Colds are caused by viruses and are contagious. Your immune system is triggered and it tries to fight the virus. Allergies are caused by exposure to allergens and your body’s immune system overreacts and sees it as foreign substance and attacks it. This is how they are different --- allergies are annoying, but not contagious. 3) Symptoms that may be similar to a cold such as nasal congestion, sneezing or watery eyes can be present in both. However, with allergies you may have itchy eyes and an itchy nose with no fever. 4) With allergies, it usually lasts as long as the exposure, so it could be weeks, whereas with an infection, it usually lasts only a couple of days. 5) In both cases, allergies and the common cold can make you feel miserable. Check with your doctor if you are not feeling well so that they can help you determine what you have and get you the help you need.

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