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1. Is it a cold or is it allergy? Sometimes it's difficult to tell. Allergy symptoms typically include sneezing, runny nose, nasal and sinus congestion, sinus headache, fatigue and itching of the eyes. Cold symptoms are due to virus infections. Cold viruses produce symptoms of runny nose, sinus congestion and headache and may also be associated with occasional fever, chills and muscle aches. However, viruses do not produce itching symptoms at all. In short, allergy does not produce fever and colds do not produce itching.

2. Seasonal hay fever, otherwise known as allergic rhinitis, results in over 10 million doctor visits yearly in the USA. Frequent symptoms of hay fever include itching of the eyes, sneezing, itching of the roof of the mouth, nasal congestion, sinus headaches and fatigue.

3. Airborne pollen and mold spores are common causes of seasonal hay fever symptoms. Avoidance of these sources of hay fever is most important in preventing you and your family from developing allergy and asthma symptoms. The easiest way to avoid these outdoor airborne sources of allergy is to not go outside. However, this is impractical for most all of us. So, when outside drive your automobiles with the car windows up and the air conditioning on. At home keep the windows close and the central air conditioning running. Air conditioning removes the pollen and mold spores from the air and may thereby reduce your chances of experiencing allergy and asthma attacks.

4. The best way to reduce your indoor mold spore exposures is to reduce indoor humidity by running your air conditioner or dehumidifier during the high humidity seasons.

5. Pollen from weeds and trees and grasses may travel several hundred miles in the air. Therefore, it may not be your neighbor's yard or tree that is a source of your hay fever or asthma symptoms.

6. Sinus headaches and sinus infections in the language of physicians is termed sinusitis. Sinusitis means inflammation of the sinuses. Infections of the sinuses frequently follow flare-ups of allergy since allergy immune reactions produce excessive mucus in the nose, sinus and middle ear.

7. Millions of Americans obtain relief on their own by purchasing over-the-counter antihistamines and decongestants to relieve the sinus headache symptoms. However, if the sinus headache and drainage down the back of the throat continue or are associated with fever, you should consult with your physician about the possibility of needing antibiotic therapy.

8. Sinus is an old Roman word which means "sewer". Humans have these sewers, or sinuses, to help humidify and warm the air which is taken into the lungs. When patients who suffer from allergy are under treated or under diagnosed, excessive mucus may accumulate within the linings and cavities of the sinuses which may result in sinus infections.

9. Children who have uncontrolled allergy or hay fever have more frequent ear and sinus infections. Think of it this way. If you have a wet head you are more likely to become infected by either virus or bacterial infections. The wet head gets sick, the dry head stays healthy.

10. Indoor allergens which are most often responsible for causing hay fever, sinus and asthma symptoms include the house dust mite, cockroach allergenic proteins, animal dander (cat, dog, guinea pig, hamster, rabbit, etc.), and mold spores.

11. Families who have the genetic predisposition toward the development of allergy and asthma symptoms should not have indoor pets. Also, these families should not have wall-to-wall carpeting in their homes due to the fact that the carpeting retains indoor allergens such as the house dust mite proteins. Also, wall-to-wall carpeting will provide an ideal nest for the house dust mites and molds to live in. Therefore, the allergy family home should be animal and carpet free.

12. The normal "cold" lasts 6.4 days. This means that if your symptoms of runny nose, sneezing and sinus congestion last for more than 7 days, you are more likely to have allergy as a cause for your symptoms. Consult with your physician and be certain to obtain an accurate diagnosis of your problems. Once an exact diagnosis is made, the treatment can be more exact as well.

13. Pollens may travel hundreds of miles through the air. So, it may not be your neighbor's oak tree that is making you sneeze. African tree pollens, for example, have been identified by an allergy specialist in Florida, Dr. Mary Jelks, to be present within the air over Florida. So you see, pollens can travel hundreds of miles.

14. Try to time your outdoor activities so that you are outside when the pollen and mold levels are at their minimum. Grass pollinates in the early morning hours between 6 and 10 AM. So, if you are going to exercise outside do it in the early afternoon.

15. Windy days will have higher pollen and mold allergen levels. You may wish to stay indoors on windy days. Outdoor activities for allergy sufferers are best during calm days.

16. Weeds pollinate at sunrise and sundown as air currents turn over. If you are allergic to weed pollen, calm mid-day activities should be best for you.

17. Drive your car with the windows up during the outdoor allergy season. Also, turn on your air conditioning in the car to decrease your exposure to these allergenic pollens. If you are driving your car with the windows down, then the car you are in is nothing more than a pollen collector.

18. Take your medications wisely. Some medicines, like the asthma drug albuterol, takes several minutes to become effective. If you have exercise-induced asthma and your doctor has prescribed this medication for you to use, you are probably best off using it at least 30 minutes before exercise. Don't use it two seconds before you are about to run outside and compete in an athletic activity.

19. Another asthma medication, Intal (cromolyn sodium), helps to prevent allergy cells from causing asthma symptoms. Intal works but only if you use it about 15 minutes before inhaling either cold air or air containing pollens and molds which might otherwise induce an asthma attack.

Remember, only you can prevent allergy and asthma attacks. If you have questions about how to use your medications, be certain to consult with your doctor at any time.