Fall cold or fall allergies? It could be either
September 23, 1996
Web posted at: 9:25 p.m. EDT
From Correspondent Rhonda Rowland
ATLANTA (CNN) -- Have you noticed in the last couple of weeks
that you just can't stop sneezing? An autumn episode of
sniffles and sneezing could be just a cold, or it could be
"If you're allergic, what gives it away is that the symptoms
last a long time," said Dr. Dennis Spangler of the Atlanta
Allergy Clinic. "A cold will last maybe a week or two, and
resolves itself. It will not be persistent, it will not be
Although most people with allergies have more trouble in the
spring, some only suffer in the fall. The main culprit is
ragweed, a yellow-flowering weed often seen growing in
agricultural areas or along highways.
"Ragweed causes just as much trouble as tree pollens and
grass pollens do, but it's a much briefer season, it's about
five weeks total," Spangler said.
Almost no place in the United States is ragweed-free, but
some areas have more than others. It is the most prevalent
in the Midwest and central United States, and less so along
the West Coast.
Meanwhile, in the East, mold may pose a bigger problem than
ragweed this year, because of "all the hurricanes and
flooding that we've had," said Spangler. The only thing that
will kill mold is a hard frost.
If you have allergies, you don't have to live in misery.
There have been a number of advances in treatment during the
last ten years. The first place to start: over-the-counter
However, Spangler advises against over-the-counter
decongestant nasal sprays. "They can aggravate symptoms," he
said. "But the antihistamines, there are a number of good
effective antihistamines that have gone over-the-counter over
the last few years that can work."
If OTC medications are no longer effective, or if you have to
use them all the time, or you can't tolerate the side
effects, you may need to see a doctor for relief.
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