Health Day - ONLINE EDITION

Your Summer Cold May Actually Be an Allergic Reaction

Grass pollens and mold spores often trigger allergy symptoms during the warm-weather months

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SATURDAY, June 15 (HealthDay News) -- Sneezing, watery eyes, scratchy throat? What you think is a summer cold may actually be allergies, an expert says.

"Contrary to popular belief, seasonal allergies don't only strike in the spring and fall months," Dr. Richard Weber, president of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI), said in a college news release. "Allergies are also common in the summer and can even last year-round for some sufferers."

Grass pollens and mold spores are the most common allergy triggers during the summer, and mold can be more of a problem than pollen. Mold spores are everywhere and commonly outnumber pollen grains in the air even during peak pollen season, research has shown.

Summer allergies (or hay fever) can develop even in adults who have never had allergies. In such cases, it's easy to mistake allergies for a summer cold.

The ACAAI offers some tips on how to determine if you have a summer cold or allergies:

  • If symptoms last for two weeks or more, you likely have allergies.
  • If your symptoms become progressively worse, you likely have a cold.
  • Itchy eyes, throat and nose -- along with sneezing -- usually indicate allergies.
  • If you have asthma, you may be more likely to have an allergy than a cold. About 75 percent to 80 percent of people with asthma also have an allergy.

Although summer colds and allergies may not seem serious, both can progress and lead to other health problems, such as a sinus infection. If you have persistent symptoms, see an allergist for testing, diagnosis and treatment, the ACAAI advised.

There is no cure for seasonal allergies but avoiding triggers and getting treatment, such as medication or allergy shots, can provide relief and prevent progression.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about colds and seasonal allergies.

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