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Allergic Rhinitis


This past winter season has done its part in confusing even medical professionals. When it comes to preparing our patients for avoiding sickness, drastic changes in weather can present a challenge.

Now that spring is officially upon us, we are all excited at the opportunity to spend more time outdoors. But with embracing the mild weather and blooming tulips there comes loads of powdery pollen swirling in the air to avoid.

Colds vs. Allergies?

Achoo! Achoo! So is it a cold or allergies? Well, sometimes it is hard to tell the difference.

Is it possible to have both a cold and allergic rhinitis? Yes!

As a matter of fact, the allergen (in many cases pollen) can often trigger a cold.

Shared Symptoms of Colds & Allergies

Both seasonal allergies and the common cold share similar symptoms including:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose
  • Coughing
  • Nasal congestion
  • Head pressure
  • Sore throat
  • Scratchy throat

Common Allergy Symptoms

Symptoms that are more than likely to prove you are suffering from allergies and less likely a cold include:

  • Red, swollen, watery or itchy eyes
  • Darkness around eyes
  • Sensation of itchy ears
  • Post nasal drip

Other Considerations

  • Allergies typically last longer than a cold.
  • Allergies do not come with fevers.
  • The mucous produced during a cold is usually thicker than the thin, clear mucous produced during an allergic response.

Tulip blossoms

Finding Relief from Allergy Symptoms

If you experience any of these allergy symptoms, it is best to try an over-the-counter anti-histamine.

The nasal pressure and congestion can be relieved with nasal rinsing and decongestants. Avoid using the nasal sprays or decongestants for more than 3 days.

Neti pots are a great treatment to clear out the bacteria and viruses harboring in your sinus passages. You can make your own Neti pot by following the simple instructions below. It works wonders!

Make Your Own Neti Pot

  • Combine 1 cup of boiled water for sterility
  • Add a half tablespoon of Kosher salt and a pinch of baking soda
  • Stir the ingredients together.
  • Use a clean container with a spout to pour your solution into one nostril, and allow it to flow out the other nostril.
  • Use up to three times a day.

6 Tips for Fighting Allergic Rhinitis

Here are some other tips for fighting allergic rhinitis during Spring Season:

  1. Check for your local pollen forecast.
  2. Try to bathe before bed to wash pollen and other allergens off your body and hair.
  3. Stay inside when pollen is predicted to be high or visible, especially on dry, windy days.
  4. Keep windows and doors shut, and use an air conditioner at home and in your car.
  5. Wash your car regularly during pollen season. Remember, even though you cannot see it, there may still be pollen on your car.
  6. Wash your hands frequently.

If your allergy symptoms do not improve, make an appointment with your doctor!

About Elizabeth Lee, MD

Dr. Elizabeth Lee is a primary care physician with WakeMed Physician Practices in Downtown Raleigh. She is board certified in family medicine and osteopathic manipulative treatment (OMT), specializing in lifestyle medicine. Schedule an appointment with Dr. Lee. You can also follow Dr. Lee on her personal blog.