How to Know If You Have a Seasonal Allergy

Is it a cold, or are you allergic?

The symptoms are pretty clear: sneezing; a clear, running nose; itchy or dry eyes; headache; stuffy, inflammed sinuses. The only question is whether it’s a cold or an allergy. Colds come on more slowly, and often what comes out of your nose is white or greenish. Allergies come on quickly, and usually at the same time each year, or after a long time outside during allergy season.

To be certain, doctors have developed extensive and accurate tests for allergies. If you think you have one, ask to be tested.

Allergies usually cannot be cured. Once your body marks something as harmful, there’s no simple way to change that. The one cure that’s been proven effective is called immunotherapy, and involves getting a shot once or twice a week for six or more months. It works by progressively desensitizing your immune system to the allergen. Few people are willing to go through such a challenging and expensive process, however. Instead, we rely mostly on medicines and methods that reduce the impact of allergies.

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Originally Published in Reader's Digest