How Can You Tell If Your Sore Throat Is From Allergiesor Something Else
Sore throat, especially during the winter months, can also signal a cold or a virus, making it hard to tell what you’re dealing with. It can be difficult to differentiate between a cold and allergies, but the best way to differentiate between the two would be length of symptoms and past history of allergies, Dr. Li says.
“Both allergies and the seasonal cold can cause runny nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, watery eyes and cough,” he says. “However, cold symptoms typically last only a few days while allergy symptoms will often last several weeks to months.”
Allergy symptoms also typically flare up during the spring, summer and fall seasons, while colds usually come during the winter times, Dr. Li says. Allergy symptoms are also more responsive to oral antihistamine and nasal steroids while cold symptoms typically are more resistant to these types of treatments. Lastly, colds or viruses that can cause sore throat will usually will present with more fevers and body aches than allergies will.
Certain symptoms, such as runny nose or itchy, watery eyes, are more common with allergies than a cold, Dr. Simpson adds. If you’re also experiencing aches and pains or a fever, you most likely have a cold or virus. Thick yellow mucus is often more typical of a cold or virus.
What’s The Best Way To Manage A Sore Throat From Allergies
Fact: You dont need to suffer through this, and allergists say there are a few things you can do to try to relieve your pain. Ultimately, Dr. Wada says, the best treatment is a combo of tackling your nasal symptoms and sore throat. Try these treatment options.
- Use an antihistamine. Antihistamines block the effects of histamines, lessening the risk youll develop allergy symptoms, including a sore throat, Dr. Wada says.
- Try a nasal steroid spray. Nasal steroid sprays help reduce inflammation in your nasal passages, Dr. Wada says, and could help tamp down on post-nasal drip.
- Gargle with warm salt water. Not only does it feels soothing on your throat, Dr. Wada says, the salt in the water can help pull mucus out of the area and make you feel better.
- Have some honey. If a cough is behind your sore throat, consider having a spoonful of honey. Research has found that honey can reduce how often and how intensely you cough when youre sick. Honey can also be soothing for sore throats for anyone over age one, Dr. Wada says.
If you have a sore throat from allergies and this is a regular thing for you, Dr. Parikh recommends talking to your doctor or allergist about allergen immunotherapy, which are shots you can take to help reduce your reaction to allergens. These can make you less allergic to the trigger over time, Dr. Parikh says.
Is My Sore Throat Allergies Or Covid
Sore throat can be a symptom of allergies or COVID-19, and it can be difficult to tell which one you have. Although symptoms of COVID-19 and allergies may overlap, key differences include the following:
- COVID-19 often causes a system-wide response, while allergies cause a localized response. For example, COVID-19 symptoms range from sore throat and fever to respiratory problems. However, allergy symptoms may be limited to the nose, throat, and eyes .
- Itchiness is a common symptom of allergies that is usually absent in the case of infections including COVID-19.
Understanding the difference between these two illnesses can help. However, it is best to contact your doctor to confirm a diagnosis.
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How Do Allergies Cause A Sore Throat
In order to understand how allergies cause a sore throat, its important to understand how an allergic response happens.
The immune system works to protect your body from diseases, viruses and infections. But for people with allergies, the immune system mistakes harmless substances such as pollen, pet dander, dust mites, certain foods, mold and insect stings as a dangerous intruder. An allergic reaction occurs when your body is exposed to one of these harmless substances, known as an allergen, and the immune system overreacts.
In order to fight off the intruder, the immune system releases antibodies called Immunoglobulin E , which causes the cells to release histamine. Histamine increases mucus production and causes swelling and itching.
The excess mucus can result in postnasal drip, which is when mucus drains down the back of the throat, making it feel raw and irritated. In addition, inflammation can occur in the throat, adding to the discomfort.
How Allergies Can Cause A Sore Throat
The glands in your nose and throat make about one to two quarts of mucus every day, reports the American Academy of OtolaryngologyHead and Neck Surgery Foundation. This mucus has many important functions, such as keeping your nose clean and moistening the air you breathe, and you usually swallow it without realizing. Other times, people may notice mucus dripping down the back of their nose or pooling in their throat. This unpleasant sensation is known as postnasal drip, and it can be caused by allergies.
If you have postnasal drip, the trickle of mucus can irritate your throat and cause soreness and other symptoms, such as feeling a lump in the throat or swallowing more frequently. It may also make you feel the need to clear your throat more often.
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How Is Allergic Esophagitis Treated
Allergic esophagitis may not go away completely. Treatment may help relieve your symptoms.
- Steroid medicine may help decrease swelling in your esophagus. You will swallow the medicine so it coats your esophagus.
- Stomach acid medicine helps keep heartburn symptoms under control.
- Dilatation is a procedure used when the esophagus narrows from swelling. An endoscope is placed into your mouth and down your throat. Tools on the endoscope press against the tissues to widen your esophagus. Dilatation can improve your symptoms but will not stop allergic esophagitis from happening.
Talk With A Doctor Or Clinician To Create A Personalized Treatment Plan
If you arent sure if its a cold or allergies, or if your symptoms are severe or long-lasting, its best to connect with a care provider to get an official diagnosis and treatment plan.
If your allergy symptoms are left untreated, you could become more prone to getting sinus infections or other upper respiratory infections, or they may lead to poor asthma control.
Also, a common cold can turn severe. So if your cold has had you laid up longer than a day or two, get in touch with your doctor.
You have a couple options:
Make an appointment for face-to-face care from a primary care doctor or clinician. Whether you choose a video visit or in-person appointment, your doctor will listen to your symptoms, answer questions and work with you to create a tailored treatment plan including connecting you with an allergist or an otolaryngologist if needed.
Start a virtual visit anytime, anyplace through Virtuwell. With Virtuwell, no appointment is necessary and treatment is available 24/7. Getting started is easy. Well ask you a few questions, and youll get your diagnosis and treatment plan from a board-certified nurse practitioner. Each visit is just $59 or less, depending on your insurance.
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When To Seek Help From Your Doctors
If you suffer from allergies and neck pain at the same time, seek care for both ailments. Do not just treat your allergies, hoping that your neck pain will automatically go away. Similarly, do not assume that treatment for your neck pain will improve your allergies. The two problems might be unrelated.
See a general practitioner or an immunologist if:
- Your allergies persist after treatment with over-the-counter medications
- Your allergies interfere with your daily life, such as driving safely or work
Neck pain requires a visit to a pain specialist who can diagnose the underlying problem and offer you the best treatment.
See a pain specialist if:
- Neck pain does not improve with over-the-counter medications
- You have trouble turning your head while driving
- A doctor has diagnosed you with neck problems in the past
Anatomy Of Allergy And Anaphylaxis
Allergies typically develop for two reasons: first, genetic predisposition and second, environmental factors, especially in early childhood. According to the “hygiene hypothesis,” the immune system in people who aren’t exposed to a wide variety of germs early in life is more likely to incorrectly develop an allergic immune reaction to harmless foreign antigens.
Having an allergy means that your immune system reacts to an allergen as a threat and mounts a defense against it each time it comes in contact with it. Your first contact with the allergen may produce no obvious symptoms, but it stimulates the production of large amounts of an antibody protein called immunoglobulin E, or IgE. In allergy-prone people, IgE is produced in response to generally harmless substances, such as a food or medication. IgE locks onto immune cells to prepare for the next encounter with the allergen a process known as sensitization. Now, whenever you’re subsequently exposed to the allergen, IgE signals the mast cells and basophils to disgorge inflammation-causing chemicals called mediators. The symptoms depend on the mediator and the tissue in which it’s released for example, the mediator histamine can cause blood vessels to dilate and airways in the lungs to narrow.
Certain cardiovascular medications can lower the effectiveness of epinephrine, the key treatment for anaphylaxis so if you’re taking one of those medications and have allergies, consult your clinician.
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S For Managing Your Sore Throat
The first step in managing your allergy-induced sore throats is visiting a professional. From there, we can determine the root cause of your allergy, and help you create a personalized plan for removing the trigger from your life and/or ways to manage your allergies when removing the trigger isnt a realistic solution.
When To See A Doctor
It is best for a person experiencing any ear pain to see a doctor. They will be able to confirm if an allergy or infection is causing the ear pain. They will also be able to rule out other potential causes.
If the doctor believes that allergies are causing the ear pain, they may refer the person to an allergist or immunologist for a thorough diagnosis.
If a person has symptoms of an ear infection that do not improve over 48â72 hours, they should see their doctor.
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How Do Allergies Cause Ear Pain
When the body is exposed to allergens normally harmless substances that the immune system deems a threat it releases the chemical histamine, which causes inflammation, mucus production and itching. This primarily affects the eyes, sinuses, nose and throat, but can also affect the ears.
More specifically, allergies can cause:
- Blockage of the Eustachian tubes.
- Fluid buildup behind the eardrum.
- Development of an ear infection.
How Can You Tell The Difference Between Allergies And A Cold
This time of year, its especially tough to tell what might be causing your sore throat: Is it allergies, a cold, or the flu? And as the Omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, continues to spread, its more difficult than everone of its symptoms is a scratchy throat. Both allergies and viral infections can cause symptoms like a sore throat, runny nose, headaches, and congestion. How can you tell whats actually making you feel crummy?
The way your symptoms appear is often a big clue: Colds tend to creep up slowly, while allergy symptoms usually flare up shortly after youre exposed to an allergen, per the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma, and Immunology. Meanwhile, if you start to notice itching, stuffiness, or an annoying tickle in the back of your throat after spending some time outside, youre probably dealing with allergies.
If your sore throat tends to get worse or makes it hard to swallow, or you develop a fever, chills, or body aches, youre probably dealing with a cold or infection, Dr. Mehdizadeh says. And if your allergy medications dont seem to be helping, thats also a sign your symptoms could be pointing to a cold, flu, COVID-19, or something else.
Unfortunately, they arent mutually exclusive: Colds and allergies can exist at the same time, Dr. Reisacher says. So if you cant figure out what youre dealing with, talk with your doctor.
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Allergy Sore Throat Treatment
So, you have a sore throat, cough, runny nose and congestion. Have you caught a common cold or do you have allergy symptoms? Sometimes, it is even difficult for doctors to distinguish between the two, because their symptoms can be so similar. If you have persistent throat discomfort accompanied by other allergy symptoms, consider that you may have a sore throat due to allergies.
Can You Have Just A Sore Throat From Allergies With No Other Symptoms
Technically, its possible to have just this one symptom from allergies, but its less likely to be your only symptom, Dr. Wada says. Basically, if you develop a sore throat and dont have any other issues, like a runny, stuffy nose, you should at least consider that your pain might be due to something else.
Allergies And Body Aches
If you are suffering from joint pain, or any other type of general discomfort or pain, it could be caused by allergies. Remember that allergic reactions can cause inflammation. Inflammation can then cause joint and muscle aches. As a result, you can see that one sign of an immune system reaction can be chronic body aches.
There is often another issue at play as well: Allergies can cause physical symptoms from its symptoms. For example, one symptom is chronic coughing and sneezing. Both of these can lead to soreness if your body is repeatedly put through the paces.
Start With Some Home Remedies For Cold And Allergy Symptoms
When you start feeling icky, some simple home remedies can provide temporary relief. For starters, try to get more rest. Both allergies and colds can cause tiredness, so listen to your body and take it easy.
Also, take advantage of saltwater to soothe irritated nasal passages and scratchy or sore throats.
For your nose, use a neti pot. A neti pot can be picked up at any local drugstore or online, and typically comes with packets to mix with warm, distilled water to create a saltwater solution to pour through your nasal passages.
For your throat, simply mix a quarter or half teaspoon of table salt into an 8-ounce glass of warm water. Take a sip and gargle for a few seconds like you would with mouthwash. Then spit and repeat until the solution is gone. You can do this a couple times a day.
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Can You Get A Sore Throat From Allergies And What Causes It
Yep, and how you develop it all comes down to how your body reacts when its exposed to an allergen like pollen. If you have allergies, your immune system will react to being exposed to an allergen by releasing histamines, chemicals that cause allergy symptoms.
For many people with seasonal allergies, those histamines can cause a stuffy, runny noseand that can trigger post-nasal drip, i.e. mucus running down the back of your throat, explains Purvi Parikh, MD, an allergist with Allergy & Asthma Network. And that can cause irritation back there. Cue the sore throat. Often, first thing in morning it will be worse from laying down all night, Dr. Parikh says.
Post-nasal drip isnt the only reason you might develop a sore throat from allergies, though. Coughing and mouth breathing can also mess with the way your throat feels, says Kara Wada, MD, an allergist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
Of course, not everyone with allergies gets a sore throat. Allergies can affect each of us differently, Dr. Wada says. There are some things that might make you more prone to struggling with a sore throat from allergies, Dr. Parikh says, including how severe your allergies are and the anatomy of your nose.
Why Is Neck Pain So Common
Studies show that neck problems are common. Roughly 20-70% of adults experience neck pain that interferes with their daily activities, at some point in their lifetime.
Your neck contains the top part of your spinal column , a likely source for injuries and pain. The cervical spine needs strength to support the head. . It also needs flexibility in order to allow the neck to twist and bend.
The cervical spine has multiple parts:
- 7 back bones They provide strength to your neck and protect the spinal cord.
- 6 pairs of facet joints These small joints connect the backbones and provide flexibility in the neck.
- 6 discs These cartilage cushions act as shock absorbers between the backbones.
- 8 pairs of spinal nerves Spinal nerves branch out from the top of the spine to reach the head, neck, shoulders, arms, and hands. They receive touch temperature, and pain sensations from the skin and control upper body movements .
The cervical spine is like a finely tuned instrument, with its multiple parts working together to produce precise movements. If any of these parts wear out or suffer injuries, you will experience neck stiffness and pain.
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