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The one telltale sign someone is suffering from seasonal allergies, not illness

Cold and flu season is shifting into high gear, and while you may not feel like eating when you're sick, TheDailyMeal.com compiled a list of "super foods" that can help make you feel better.
Cold and flu season is shifting into high gear, and while you may not feel like eating when you're sick, TheDailyMeal.com compiled a list of "super foods" that can help make you feel better. (Uberphotos/iStock)

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Spring has officially started, but in the midst of current public health concerns, it’s important to be able to distinguish allergy symptoms from other illnesses.

Cleveland Clinic allergist Dr. Alice Hoyt said there’s one telltale sign that shows if someone is suffering from seasonal allergies.

“The biggest symptom someone should think about is itchiness. So, does their nose itch? Is that something that really prompts sneezing? Do their eyes itch? And then are they noticing these kind of itchy, congested, kind of itchy, drippy, sneezy, is what I call it,” she said. “Do they notice those symptoms, especially when the seasons are changing?”

Hoyt said many seasonal allergy symptoms can be treated effectively with over-the-counter products. However, she admits it can be overwhelming to see an aisle of boxes labeled ‘allergy relief.’ She said one of the most effective ‘go-to’ treatments for seasonal allergies is a nasal steroid spray.

“The way it works, is by suppressing the inflammation in the nose using steroids,” said Hoyt. “They’re not an immediate effect type of medication – you do need to use it, for at least a few days, to really start to see some effect.”

When it comes to oral medications, she said it’s key to know the difference between decongestants and antihistamines.

“I encourage my patients to avoid anything that has the ‘D’ in it, because that means it has a decongestant,” said Hoyt. “And typically, even with severe cases of seasonal allergies, you don’t need the ‘D’ medication every day.”

Hoyt said people who are unsure which ingredients are best for symptoms, should consult their doctor or pharmacist. If allergy medications are not helping symptoms, it’s best to call your doctor to further discuss the situation.