An allergy is an abnormal reaction or increased sensitivity to certain substances or “allergens.” The allergic individual experiences symptoms when exposed to these substances which are harmless to non-allergic people. While both colds and certain allergies share common symptoms, a cold is caused by a virus and an allergy is triggered by an allergen. Many people who suffer from allergic rhinitis or “hay fever” think that they have colds, when in fact substances in their environment are to blame.
Allergic rhinitis results from an inflammation and irritation of the lining of the nose in response to an allergen.
A cold is frequently accompanied by other symptoms such as sore throat and cough and only lasts 3-5 days, whereas allergic rhinitis tends to come and go and recur during the same season each year.
Common allergy symptoms are: sneezing, runny nose, red, watery or itchy eyes, eye discharge, chronic post nasal drip, congestion, headaches, chronic sinus infections, itchy skin, hives, and ear pain.
Do you experience one or more of these symptoms. How often do you have allergy symptoms? Is it several months of the year or just on a rare occasion? Is it seasonal (trees in the spring, weeds in the fall) or year round (mold, animals, cockroach, dust and dust mites)? Allergies are quite common. According to the American Academy of Allergy and Immunology, one out of every six Americans suffers from an allergic condition. More than 35 million Americans suffer from seasonal allergic rhinitis.
The best method for determining if you suffer from allergies and what allergens trigger your symptoms is allergy skin testing. With the results of this test, your physician can confirm the severity of your allergies and formulate a treatment plan.