We associate allergies with Spring and Fall, and cold viruses with Winter months. But in fact Summer colds and allergies are common, and knowing whether your symptoms are caused by one or the other is Key to getting the right treatment.
Health experts note that colds and seasonal allergies can cause many of the same symptoms: runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, fatigue, and coughing. But a common cold typically lasts no longer than 10 days, while allergies can linger on for months.
Viruses also tend to bring on fever, chills, and body aches that allergy sufferers do not generally experience.
They are best treated with rest, drinking plenty of fluids, boosting your immune system, and using over-the-counter remedies to manage symptoms until they have run their course and go away.
Allergies, on the other hand, tend to cause watery eyes, itchy throats, and wheezing, these are symptoms not caused by viruses. Treatment usually requires identifying what’s causing them and limiting your exposure to them, which may require a doctor’s care.
Robin Wilson, author of “Clean Design: Wellness for Your Lifestyle” and a representative of the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, notes that Summertime is high time for allergies and colds, and offers a handful of tips for treating your symptoms.
“With the hot and humid weather of summer, the symptoms of allergies are in full swing for many,” she says. “If you suffer from the wheezes and sneezes, there are 10 things you must be aware of.”
Below is Ms. Wilson’s 10-Point guide to identifying and remedying Summer allergies, as follows:
- Fruit: A common allergy trigger. Surprisingly, many favorite fruits, apples, bananas, peaches, and plums can cause symptoms similar to grass or tree pollen reactions. But there are ways to reduce the risk of an allergic reaction. “If you are sensitive, place the fruit in the microwave for 10 seconds to deactivate the proteins, and never eat the peel,” Ms. Wilson advises.
- Cleaner is not always better. A little exposure to dirt and germs is actually a good thing, because it strengthens the immune system, many studies show, so resist the urge to use heavy chemical cleaners to sanitize your home. Doing so can lower your immune system’s ability to fend off pathogens and allergens, Wilson notes. “When cleaning, always use a non-toxic cleaner, and remove excess books, magazines and other clutter from the sleeping area to reduce dust build up,” she adds.
- Wash or toss that pillow. If your pillow is older than 3 years and has not been washed, it’s probably loaded with dust mites that can cause allergic reactions. “Use hypoallergenic pillows over down pillows, and use a zippered pillow protector that you wash weekly for a double barrier,” Ms. Wilson says. “Wash your pillow twice a year and replace pillows every three years.”
- There’s no hypoallergenic dog. Poodles, Labradoodles, and Yorkshire terriers are considered hypoallergenic because they do not shed hair, but there is no scientific proof that these breeds produce lower amounts the most common dog allergen. The best bet for reducing allergic reactions: Avoid exposure to pets, never allow them on the bed and always wash your hands thoroughly with soap and hot water after playing with an animal.
- Tear out the carpet. Tile and hardwood floors are less likely than carpet to harbor allergy-producing dust and allergens. But they must be vacuumed on a regular basis, with a HEPA filter, which captures more microscopic airborne particles, such as dust, pollen, and pet dander.
- Use a nylon shower curtain liner. Allergy sufferers are told to shower often to remove pollen and pet dander from their bodies. But the phthalate chemicals in vinyl shower curtains off-gas with humidity and heat, and also attract mold and mildew. Replace your vinyl liner with a nylon shower curtain liner.
- Watch for indoor mold. Mold is a huge trigger for allergies and asthma, and it’s quite common. “Watch for mold in the dishwasher and refrigerator pan which can build up quickly and with very little warning; on your air conditioning system; and on any wood, paper or cotton materials that sit in water for too long,” Ms. Wilson says.
- Freeze stuffed animals. Children’s toys, especially stuffed animals can harbor dust mites that can trigger allergies and asthma. To eliminate them, freeze all stuffed toys for 24 hours in a Ziploc bag to prevent buildup at least once a month.
- Take care with sunscreen. Some Sun-protection products can cause a photo-allergic reaction in sensitive individuals. To reduce your risk, buy products that contain zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which do not produce such reactions.
- Keep the outside world from coming in. Always take off your shoes before going indoors, and keep all outdoor tools and toys in a garage or shed. “If not, you will be dragging in the outdoor dirt and pollen into you living area, and provoking allergies and asthma,” Ms. Wilson notes.
Again, Summertime is high time for allergies and colds, so take good care.
Eat healthy, Be healthy, Live lively
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