Why Can Seasonal Allergies Cause A Sore Throat
Allergies happen when the body perceives a foreign substance as a threat, and the immune system produces antibodies and histamine in response. This creates an inflammatory reaction that makes you feel downright crummy. Common allergy symptoms include sneezing, congestion, runny nose, sinus pressure, and dark circles under the eyes . But under the right circumstances, allergy sufferers could develop a sore throat as well.
Why does this happen? Children with allergies often have increased mucus production in the nasal passages that drips down the back of the throat. This is referred to as postnasal drip, explains Sanjeev Jain, M.D., a board-certified allergist and immunologist at Columbia Allergy. As the mucus drips down the throat, it causes irritation to the mucosa that lines the throat, and this can result in the sensation of a sore throat.
Keep in mind that sore throat can have other causes as well. For example, it often appears with viral upper respiratory infections and bacterial infections , says Natasha Burgert, M.D., a board-certified pediatrician for Pediatric Associates in Overland Park, Kansas. Sore throat might also be a symptom of COVID-19 in kids. Contact your pediatrician if you dont know the cause of your childs sore throat they may need to diagnose and treat it.
Is It Allergies Or A Cold
Cold and allergy symptoms often overlap, so its easy to mistake cold symptoms for allergies, and vice versa. Understanding the cause of your symptoms helps you choose the right treatment. It also gives you a better picture of your overall health.
Clinicians use the 5 factors below to help distinguish between colds and allergies.
What Medications Relieve Nasal Congestion Sneezing And A Runny Nose
Nasal congestion, sneezing, and runny nose are common symptoms of a cold caused by a virus. The viruses that cause colds induce inflammation that increases the leakage of fluid from the blood vessels into the lining of the nose and even into the nose. This causes swelling of the lining of the nose, obstructing the flow of air, and a runny nose.
Symptoms of hay fever, or allergic rhinitis, are caused by allergens. Allergens are tiny particles that cause cells in the lining of the nose and the airways of the lungs to release histamine and other chemicals. Histamine and these other chemicals are responsible for the leakage of fluid, runny nose, sneezing, and nasal congestion, as well as the itching of the eyes.
For short-term relief of nasal congestion in older children and adults, nasal decongestants can be used. Nasal decongestants are chemicals that narrow the blood vessels in the nose, thereby preventing fluid from leaking and the lining from swelling. As a result, the lining shrinks and the nasal passages open. Nasal decongestants can be used topically within the nose or can be taken orally . Topical nasal decongestants act faster than the oral decongestants but have a shorter duration of action. Thus, more frequent dosing will be necessary. Oral nasal decongestants frequently are combined with an antihistamine, a cough suppressant, or an analgesic in treating cold/flu/allergy symptoms.
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Are You Treating Multiple Symptoms
For a cold, get extra rest and drink plenty of fluids, including water, tea, or soup with lots of broth. For allergies, it can help to shower and change your clothes often because allergens cling to skin, hair, and clothing. For both colds and allergies, over-the-counter antihistamines, decongestants, and pain relievers may help you feel better, although they wont make a cold go away any faster. And no matter what ails you, avoid medications that treat multiple symptoms, especially if you dont have some of the symptoms the medication is meant to treat.
Home Treatments For Postnasal Drip
You can turn to a number of home treatments to relieve the symptoms of postnasal drip. Over-the-counter decongestants like pseudoephedrine can help reduce congestion and eliminate postnasal drip.
Newer, nondrowsy antihistamines like loratadine-pseudoephedrine can work to get rid of postnasal drip. However, these are more effective after you take them for several days.
Saline nasal sprays can help moisten your nasal passages and reduce symptoms of postnasal drip. If you have continual problems with postnasal drip, your doctor may prescribe a cortisone steroid nasal spray. Sinus irrigation tools like neti pots or sinus rinses like those from NeilMed can also flush out excess mucus.
Sleeping with your head slightly elevated can also promote proper drainage.
Staying hydrated is just as important to prevent postnasal drip as it is to treat it. Drinking warm or hot liquid, like tea or chicken soup, can thin out mucus and prevent dehydration. And as always, dont forget to drink plenty of water. This also thins out mucus and keeps your nasal passages moistened, relieving discomfort.
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What Is Allergic Rhinitis
Allergic rhinitis is the medical term for hay fever or allergies. You have an allergy when your body overreacts to things that dont cause problems for most people. These things are called allergens. Your bodys overreaction to the allergens is what causes symptoms.
There are 2 forms of allergic rhinitis:
- Seasonal : Caused by an allergy to pollen and/or mold spores in the air. Pollen is the fine powder that comes from flowering plants. It can be carried through the air and is easily inhaled. Symptoms are seasonal and usually occur in spring, late summer, and fall.
- Perennial: Caused by other allergens such as dust mites, pet hair or dander, or mold. Symptoms occur year-round.
Hay fever is the most common form of allergy. Symptoms of hay fever are seasonal. You will feel worse when the pollens that affect you are at their highest levels.
The Best Medicine For Fever Sore Throat And/or Aches And Pains:
Acetaminophen, best known by the brand name Tylenol, is primarily used as a fever reducer, although research in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews suggests it may also relieve cold-related aches and pains. Acetaminophen is safe for most people if taken as directed. It is found in many combination remedies, such as Tylenol Cold + Flu Severe Caplets and Vicks Dayquil Cold & Flu Relief Liquicaps.
Because overdoing acetaminophen can cause serious harm to the liver, avoid using more than one product that contains it at a time to avoid exceeding the FDA-suggested daily dose of 3,000 milligrams for adults per 24-hour period.
Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs , which include aspirin, ibuprofen , and naproxen , reduce fever as well as inflammation throughout the body. Other research in the Cochrane Database of Systemic Reviews found that NSAIDs can greatly lessen discomfort due to headache, ear pain, muscle pain, joint pain, and sneezing.
If youre still having a hard time navigating the cold medication aisle, talk to the pharmacist. With a little customized guidance about ingredients, you may be able to enjoy better symptom relief.
Additional reporting by Nuna Alberts.
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How To Treat A Sore Throat From Allergies
According to Dr. Burgert, you can treat allergy-induced sore throat with over-the counter-pain medication like Tylenol or Motrin. Even better, you can eliminate the cause of the sore throat with antihistamines like Zyrtec, Claritin, or Allegra. Steroid nasal sprays can also decrease the production of watery mucus.
When To See A Doctor For Chronic Sore Throat
According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology, its a good idea to see a doctor if a sore throat lasts longer than five to seven days. If youve experienced a consistent sore throat for several weeks, you should consult with a doctor. Diagnosing the cause of a sore throat is often easy and treatment can be very effective, but its important to seek medical attention immediately if you experience any of the following:
- high fever
- swelling in the throat that makes breathing, talking, or swallowing difficult
- severe pain on one side of the throat
- severely swollen glands
- a lump or obstruction in the throat
Seeing a doctor is the best way to stop your chronic sore throat at the source. Home remedies can be helpful to soothe an irriateted throat, but a doctor will be able to diagnose the root cause and recommend a treatment to help you find lasting relief.
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How Do I Know If My Sore Throat Is Caused By Bacteria
You don’t unless a doctor has taken a throat swab and sent it away to the lab for culture. But there are a few clues to look for that can help you decide if your sore throat is more likely to be caused by a virus or a less serious cause such as an allergy or an irritant, or more likely to be caused by bacteria.
Viral sore throats are generally accompanied by cold symptoms, such as a runny nose, watery eyes, or a cough. Symptoms such as sneezing, red eyes, or an itchy roof of the mouth usually accompany sore throats caused by an allergy. Sore throats caused by pollutants generally get better once the cause has been eliminated whether it be smoking or bad air.
Bacterial sore throats tend to come on quickly and are more likely to affect children aged between five and fifteen rather than adults. A type of bacteria called Streptococcus pyrogenes is the most common cause of bacterial sore throats. People living in overcrowded environments such as boarding schools, military camps, or in damp homes are more at risk and the condition is more prevalent between November and April. Strep throat is very contagious and can be passed on from person to person by coughing, sneezing and close contact. Very rarely, the bacteria may be passed on through food. If somebody in your household has a Strep throat, there is a one in four chance you may also get it within two to seven days.
Can Allergies Cause Swollen Glands
Allergies have different forms, from mild to even life-threatening ones. They can make your life very miserable. The symptoms of an allergy become noticeable when the immune system overreacts to an allergen. Common known allergens include pollen, molds, dust mites, insects, strings, food, etc. Hives, skin redness and skin itchiness are common, accompanied by a stuffy and watery nose, eye redness, eye itchiness, etc. But, do allergies cause swollen glands as well?
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When To See A Doctor About Throat Pain
Dr. Allan says to use common sense when deciding whether to seek out medical care. Call a doctor if you:
- Have throat pain thats severe, prolonged or not improving, or stretches into your ear.
- Have trouble swallowing, breathing or opening your mouth.
- Are coughing up blood or have blood in your saliva.
- Feel enlarged lymph nodes, or lumps, in your neck.
- Have white patches on the back of your throat or a rash, possible signs of strep throat or scarlet fever.
- Have a high fever.
- Lose your voice for more than a week or two.
And remember, when it comes to illnesses, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of hot toddies. Wash your hands often. And if you do get sick, Dr. Allan advises immediately replacing your toothbrush with a fresh, germ-free one.
What Should I Know About Topical Sprays Decongestants And Expectorants To Treat A Cough
- Topical nasal decongestants act more quickly than oral nasal decongestants. However, the effects of topical nasal decongestants are short lived. Topical nasal decongestants should be used for only three to five days at a time since more prolonged use can lead to rebound congestion with worsening nasal congestion. Patients with rebound congestion complain of stuffy nose despite frequent applications of the nasal decongestant. Treatment of rebound congestion involves the slow withdrawal of the nasal decongestant and applying saline nose sprays or drops to provide moisture.
- Nasal decongestants can aggravate high blood pressure and should not be used in people with uncontrolled high blood pressure without permission from the doctor.
- Oral nasal decongestants can interfere with the action of a class of antidepressants called MAO inhibitors.
- Oral nasal decongestants can affect diseases such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, and coronary artery disease. Oral nasal decongestants and antihistamines can also precipitate urinary obstruction in patients with enlarged prostates . Patients with these conditions should consult their doctors before using OTC products.
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The Best Medicine For Runny Nose Sneezing And Itchy Watery Eyes:
Antihistamines, as noted above, are often found in combination cold and flu medication because they help treat sniffling, sneezing, itchy, and watery eyes and are the best meds for drying up a runny nose. Options include doxylamine , brompheniramine , and diphenhydramine . Some antihistamines also help you sleep through the night because they can cause drowsiness.
Its Best To Choose Cold And Flu Medication By Symptom
The key to picking the right product or products to help you feel better faster is to zero in on your symptoms. Also important: Whenever possible, stick to single-ingredient remedies to reduce the risk of side effects, says Nate Favini, MD, an internist and medical director of the nationwide healthcare system Forward.
Choose a medication thats going to directly address the symptom or symptoms that are bothering you rather than a cocktail that may include things you dont need, he says. For example, if the label of a cold or flu medication says that it treats fevers, coughs, and runny noses but you have only a cough, choose a simple cough suppressant instead.
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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.
How Can You Tell If Your Sore Throat Is From Allergies
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.
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When To See A Doctor For Treatment
If youre suffering from other allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes and a stuffy nose, over-the-counter medication may help your ears as well. Antihistamines can reduce the inflammation caused by the allergy, while decongestants will help with a clogged nose and ears. Because ear pressure can be a symptom of many other problems, its advisable to see a doctor if the pressure doesnt go away or becomes painful. Continued pressure can lead to hearing loss.
Also, if your allergy symptoms include ringing in the ears or vertigo , a visit to a hearing care provider is in order.
As many as 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of children reportedly suffer from some type of allergy. Because allergies can cause temporary and in some rare cases permanent hearing loss, its important to know how allergies impact hearing and to address any problems early on.
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