If you’re suffering from congestion, have a gravely voice and headaches, there’s a good chance you can blame allergies.
“There are a lot of problems right now,” said Dr. Timothy Linehan, an allergist with Northern Michigan Allergy and Asthma Center in Petoskey.
“July and August can be a peak time for seasonal allergies.”
With Michigan’s climate, seasonal allergies are very common beginning in the early spring and continuing into the fall. And with the overlap between grasses and weed pollination, along with the recent rains and the spike in mold spores, many are coughing and sneezing.
Currently, Linehan said what is going on is known as “priming.”
“What happens is when spring rolls around, there is a high concentration of allergens to trigger symptoms. Then as the season progresses, some people make more allergic proteins in their blood and come July and August, there is a lot more of that protein in their blood so it can be a prime time for allergy sufferers.”
It’s estimated that one in five Americans have some form of allergy. Allergies can be genetic, and if both parents suffer from allergies, their child has a 70 percent likelihood of also being affected, Linehan said.
Allergies can also occur at any age or any time, and statistically peak at age 14. However, the tendency is that the older you get, the more allergies drop out. However, if you inherit the gene, you can develop allergies much later in life.
While many symptoms of seasonal allergies mimic those of colds and other viruses, there are some differences. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, nasal congestion, coughing, wheezing, watery eyes and a scratchy throat.
Another difference between allergies and the common cold or infection is the length of the symptoms. A cold is generally gone within two weeks, so if symptoms last longer, an allergen is usually the culprit.
“Those with allergy symptoms should see a physician so that we can recognize what is going on and determine what the triggers are,” Linehan said.
“Avoidance is key, and with avoidance it allows us to cut down on the need for medicines.”
You should see an allergist if you:
— Experience allergy related symptoms that last longer than two weeks;
— Have six or more sinus infections a year;
— Suffer from asthma;
— Have a child who suffers from chronic ear infections, asthma or eczema.
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