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Summer is a time to relax by the pool, organize barbecues with family and friends, and make day trips to the beach. But summer sniffling, sneezing, and that itchy tickle in the back of your throat can throw a wrench in your plans for fun in the sun. When the symptoms that are making you miserable last long past the average two weeks of the common cold, allergies may be the culprit. While the end of spring signals the end of tree pollination, grass and ragweed continue to pollinate all summer long. Summer humidity also fosters allergy-triggering mold. Here is how to spot the difference between a summer cold and allergies, and how treatment can stop allergies before they ruin your summer.

If that sniffling and sneezing last way over two weeks, it is possible that you’re suffering from allergies rather than a common cold. However, there are several other signs, as well, that can indicate which one of these conditions is troubling you. First, while a cold may on occasion cause a fever, allergies do not. Second, the ache of a summer cold can make your entire body sore while allergy discomfort is restricted to where allergies affect you, your respiratory system and head. Third, though it may be unappealing, check the mucus in your tissues. Allergies aren’t caused by an infection, so your mucus should be clear. A cold’s bacterial or viral nature tinges your mucus a yellowish or green color, which is a sign of white blood cells fighting the infection.

Summer colds most often can be treated with rest and over-the-counter medications to manage symptoms until the infection leaves your system. Allergies, however, will persist until the underlying source is treated, which can lead to a cycle of symptom maintenance each summer with mountains of tissues, over-the-counter pills, and nasal sprays. Letting allergies go untreated can also have long-term consequences including chronic ear and sinus infections, growths in the nasal cavities, and inflammation of the sinuses. Fortunately, there are ways to determine the source of your allergies and treat them where they start.

Every allergy treatment plan begins with an allergy test to determine what your body is reacting to. Allergy testing exposes your skin to minimal levels of various allergens to determine if you have a reaction. If you’re allergic to one of these substances, your skin will react at the site of exposure.

Once your allergens are found, you can try to change your surroundings to help reduce your exposure to them. This doesn’t mean you should pack up and move, but you may consider having your home deep-cleaned and treated for mold, replacing old furniture that has built up dust, or changing your landscaping to remove plants that trigger your allergies. While these changes can temporarily reduce symptoms, we can never fully eliminate allergens from our lives. The only long-term solution is to treat allergies at their source.

Immunotherapy is a common allergy treatment form prescribed by a specialized physician. It treats the source of your allergies instead of managing your symptoms by introducing your body to small doses of what you’re allergic to. Over time, this small exposure helps your body adjust to the allergen’s presence, which can reduce your reaction to it. Immunotherapy can be an excellent treatment option for those who cannot avoid their allergens, or don’t respond well to medications that help manage their symptoms. Typically, immunotherapy is conducted via injection, but the allergy drops can also be absorbed under the tongue. This form of immunotherapy is called sublingual immunotherapy, and it is an excellent alternative for patients young and old who would prefer to avoid a routine visit with a needle.

Sometimes, conditions such as enlargement of the sinuses, a deviated septum, or growths in the nasal passages called polyps may be the underlying cause of your symptoms. These conditions can prevent the sinuses from draining properly, which may cause congestion, pain, and postnasal drip. Patients with one of these conditions may find that an in-office surgical procedure is the best long-term solution for their symptoms if other treatments prove ineffective.

Don’t spend another summer sneezing and sniffling! Seeking allergy treatment can put an end to your yearly battle with your allergy symptoms by treating your allergies at the source. Dr. Pasha provides comprehensive, individualized treatment for every patient, working with them to find the source of their allergies and the treatment that best meets their needs. Breathe freely again. Visit ear, nose, and throat specialist Dr. Pasha today and take back your summer.