Yes… It Could be a New Allergy

Do you have those pesky symptoms that may signal the beginning of a cold? The bothersome tickle in your throat or the itchy and watery eyes? How about a repeating sneeze you can’t seem to get rid of? If your symptoms have been hanging around longer than those of the common cold, guess what? Your symptoms may be a sign of adult onset allergies. Yes, allergies can show up for the first time at any age.

Allergies often appear first in childhood… but not always. Lots of folks are not diagnosed with allergies until much later in life. Some newly diagnosed older adults actually have been experiencing allergy symptoms for decades before being diagnosed, but others never had any allergy symptoms whatsoever until reaching later adulthood.

In the course of our lives, we are all exposed to a variety of outside forces (or allergens) with the potential to cause an allergy. Why do some of us end up with allergies while others do not? Well, in some individuals, the immune system sees allergens as a threat and starts emitting chemicals meant to protect the body. The release of these chemicals causes allergic reactions and symptoms.

The immune system can mistakenly overreact to anything and mislabel it as a threat, from dust mites or mold to venom, insect bites, and certain foods. Even if you never had any allergy symptoms to any of these triggers, it is possible for your body to suddenly start reacting to one or more of them.

Allergy symptoms can run the full gamut from barely noticeable to quite severe. Although not common, there are instances when an allergic reaction can become life-threatening. Anaphylactic shock is an allergic reaction that can cause air passages to swell and make breathing difficult or even impossible. If anaphylactic shock is not treated immediately, there is the chance it could be fatal. Although unusual, it is important to be aware of the dangers of anaphylactic shock. Immediate medical attention is vital.

If you are experiencing allergy symptoms that are new to you, make sure to let your doctor know as soon as possible. Most likely, your symptoms will not lead to a serious health concern, but they may be needlessly affecting your quality of life by making you feel miserable and zapping your energy.

A healthcare professional will be able to help figure out if your symptoms are from an allergy and identify the best way to deal with your symptoms. Your doctor may recommend allergy testing to identify the source of an allergy and/or refer you to an allergy specialist.

Some allergy triggers can be avoided completely, thereby reducing or eliminating allergic symptoms. Milder allergy symptoms are often relieved using over-the-counter medications. More severe or long-lasting symptoms may require prescription medications or even allergy injections.

Is it a Cold or an Allergy?

Colds and allergies often produce similar symptoms. According to the American College of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology (ACAAI), answering the following questions can help you tell the difference. For more information, visit acaai.org/allergies.

Symptoms for two weeks? If you answer yes, you most likely have allergies. While colds might seem to linger on forever, they are not as long-term as allergies.

3 Important Questions

  • Escalating symptoms? If your symptoms progress and worsen rather quickly, you might have a cold. Colds evolve. They often start with a stuffy nose, throat irritation, and perhaps even a low grade fever. Next comes the sneezing and runny nose, with thickening mucus.

  • Green or clear mucus? Colored mucus probably isn’t the most pleasant symptom you want to think about. Mucus that turns yellow or green tends to indicate an infection, but could also be seen with severe allergies. Clear mucus is usually present with either the common cold or milder allergies.

  • Itchy or wheezing? Itchy eyes, throat, and nose, along with sneezing can signal either a cold or an allergy. But, if you also have asthma-like symptoms, you are probably more likely to have an allergy. An estimated 75 to 80 percent of asthmatics also have an allergy.

* Make sure to inform you doctor about your symptoms.

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